Top tip for cheap activities with kids in London
When we first moved back to the UK from France we were staying with my parents who live quite close to Windsor, so I suggested to Hubs that we take L to Legoland for the day. Fortunately we didn’t actually mention it to L because when I went online to look at prices I was shocked to see that it would cost us around £100 just to get in, we would then need to add travel costs, parking costs, lunch etc. We decided then and there that Legoland would just have to be a one-off very exceptional treat for a birthday in the future.
Shortly after, we moved to London, got jobs, got settled and started looking around for activities to do with L. I am delighted to say that in London you are so totally spoilt for choice when it comes to children’s activities, for all seasons and all budgets, but that will have to wait for another post another day. Because the one thing that I did discover through one of my local Twitter followers, and that has changed our family social life, is the Merlin Annual Pass.
Merlin Entertainment Group is the company behind many of the top attractions in London and the surrounding areas. What I found out is that if you go to one of these just for the day you can expect to pay around £100 (for our family of 3), however if you get the annual pass you can go an unlimited number of times* making it incredibly cost-effective.
So where can you visit with your pass?
Chessington World of Adventures, as we did yesterday to make the most of our lovely late summer’s day.
Legoland in Windsor.
Madame Tussaud’s in London.
The London Eye.
The Sea Life London Aquarium.
It also gets you in to the London Dungeon (which we did one weekend when we were child-free), Thorpe Park and for those wanting to go further afield there is also Alton Towers and more.
Like all these types of annual pass it is only economical if you are going to use it regularly, which we do. The current online price for a family of 3 is £315.90, however renewals are cheaper and we paid just £256 for the 3 of us for our second year. The added bonus for us is that Baby n°2 gets in free until he/she is 3 years old.
We used our pass 12 times in the first year, which worked out as £26 the day out. So far this second year we have used it once a month, and at the lower rate of £256 that means just £21 for a fab day out for the whole family. We tend to go to the same attractions as they are closest to us, but I find you can go time and again. For example I took L on the London Eye just the two of us one day when Hubs was busy, then Hubs and I went on it one evening after work at dusk before going out for dinner which was very romantic; we have been to Legoland 3 times now but still have at least a quarter of the park that we haven’t covered and we haven’t tried out Thorpe Park yet.
I don’t work for Merlin or have anything to do with them and they haven’t provided anything for me for free, but we use this so often and the whole family loves these days out that I just wanted to share. I’m so glad it was shared with me.
* There are some restrictions depending on what type of pass you go for. The above prices refer to the standard annual pass for a family of 3 which has some date limitations, for example it doesn’t work for the London attractions in August.