Merlin Annual Pass have today confirmed the full changes to their Annual Pass packages for new Standard and Premium Passes for 2017/18.

One of the largest changes being made is the introduction of additional restrictions to the validity of the Standard Annual Pass. Passes purchased from 28th November onwards will now not be able to be used for entry into Alton Towers Resort; Thorpe Park Resort; Chessington World of Adventures Resort; Legoland Windsor Resort; and Warwick Castle on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during August, as well as 1st and 2nd September. This is in addition to the previous restrictions which excluded entry to the London Cluster of attractions throughout the month of August; on UK Bank Holidays; and also did not allow entry to the Coca Cola London Eye on 14th February or to London Dungeons on selected dates around Halloween. The price of a Standard Pass is set to remain unchanged.

For Premium Annual Passes, Merlin have increased the cost of the pass by £10 for both new and renewing passholders. Minor changes have also been made to the ‘Share the Fun’ vouchers which are distributed in the Premium Passholder Packs allowing passholders to take a friend for a reduced cost, with it now being explicitly stated that the vouchers are not valid for Alton Towers Resort Fireworks.

Another addition to the new Terms and Conditions also appears to allow for the Merlin Annual Pass Team to add further restrictions to both Standard and Premium Passes at any time with point 11.3 stating: “Merlin may, at any time, in its absolute discretion, add any further exclusions which shall be applicable to the Standard Merlin Annual and/or the Premium Merlin Annual Pass as determined by Merlin.” Whilst some will interpret this as a standard clause to cover for any eventuality, many passholders will worry that this will be used as a way to introduce further limits to the passes at very short notice.

These changes to the Merlin Annual Pass packages have been met with dismay from many in the passholder community, with many expressing their disappointment and anger that weekends in August have been removed from the Standard pass arguing that they have lost a key visiting time for those with families. In responses on social media, the Merlin Annual Pass Team have stated that “We review the Merlin Annual Pass benefits every year, taking into account Passholder feedback”, and that families with Standard Passes are still able to visit other, non-restricted, attractions and that the pass still offers “excellent value for money” plus passholders “also get a range of other unique benefits and offers. In 2018, they will also benefit from the significant investment in new rides and activities, including SW8 at Alton Towers Resort, Tiger Rock at Chessington World of Adventures and other soon to be announced attractions!”

What are your thoughts on these changes to the Merlin Annual Pass packages? Will these new terms and conditions be influencing your decision to purchase a pass? Share your thoughts over on the Attraction Source Forum.
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