With the half-term holidays just around the corner, cash-strapped Brits will be looking for ways to save money on days out with the family.
As the weather remains chilly in February, some theme parks and attractions stay closed until the spring sets in, but others such as Chessington World of Adventures, LEGOLAND Windsor and Drayton Manor open their gates early to invite visitors to stay and play.
For visitors to London, British Entertainment company Merlin also has some great deals lined up for Valentine’s Day and half-term, offering 2-for-1 deals and super savings on Sundays for some of the capital’s biggest attractions including Madame Tussauds, The London Dungeons, SEA LIFE London and more.
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Merlin is offering customers 40% off standard tickets as part of its Sunday Savers promotion. Available for bookings up until March, 24 (Excluding February, 11) and the deal is calculated on the door pricing on the day when using code SUNDAY40 at the point of purchase
Sunday Savings offers reduced entry to:
- Madame Tussauds London
- The London Dungeon
- SEA LIFE London
- Shrek’s Adventure London
For loved-up couples who want to share the fun with their significant others, Merlin is also offering 2-for-1 entrance just in time for Valentine’s Day. The deal can be used at all of the above venues as well as The London Eye using the code VAL24.
The 2-for-1 deal is available from February 9 to 14, with tickets redeemable until June 30, 2024. Excluding dates include March 29 to April 13, and May, 15 to June, 2. Other deals you can make the most of during the half term and ahead of the springtime openings, include:
Chessington World of Adventures
The 128-acre theme park and zoo is one of the UK’s best-loved attractions with its very own SEA LIFE aquarium also on site.
While the park closed over the winter months, February has limited opening times available, including the half-term week for access to the Zoo and SEA LIFE only with the rides and attractions closed. March also sees the park open on weekends and selected days only, before the whole park springs back to life on April, 1.
Guests are invited to get up close and personal with over 1,000 ROARsome animals at Chessington this winter, with fun-filled animal talks and an activity trail available on selected dates until March, 10.
There are also all the usual experiences to enjoy in the park including the world’s first Jumanji-themed land of fun and thrills, as well as overnight stays in the onsite hotels or glamping tents from April onwards.
Prices start from £35 for visitors over 90cm tall, little ones under 90cm go free.
Find out more at chessington.com
Legoland is going all out to entertain visitors of all ages with its popular Brick Days events from February, 10 until March, 11.
Available on selected dates including the half-term holidays, Lego fans of all ages can meet their favourite LEGOLAND characters, and take part in a range of LEGO brick-building activities and build challenges.
From March, 15, the park will open fully in spring 2024 seeing the launch of the park’s fastest rollercoaster and a brand new holiday park called Woodland Village.
The park also remains home to over 30 rides and attractions including LEGO MYTHICA on Flight of the Sky Lion, the LEGO City Driving School, LEGO® NINJAGO® The Ride and many more.
Brick Day tickets start from £34 per person. Find out more at legoland.co.uk.
Alton Towers Resort
As one of the UK’s best-loved attractions, there is always plenty to see and do at Alton Towers.
The park is holding a Pirate Takeover event for younger children from February, 10 until February, 25 before reopening the park on March, 16.
During the half term, visitors can explore Mutiny Bay, CBeebies Land and Towers Street as well as take in new live entertainment and swashbuckling shows.
With a theme park, waterpark and golf on-site Alton Towers can take more than just a day to explore, with many visitors choosing to stay overnight.
Short breaks start from £49 per person, and day tickets are available during half term starting from £35 for the theme park and £18 for the waterpark.
Find out more at altontowers.com.
With over 30 high-octane rides, family attractions and unique events, Thorpe Park is one of the UK’s most thrilling theme parks, with something for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
While the Chertsey-based attraction is closed throughout February, it opens its gates to visitors again on Sunday, March 24. This year the park will be hosting Mardi Gras, Oktoberfest and Fright Nights for Halloween, as well as short breaks in themed hotel rooms and Shark cabins.
Standard ticket prices start from £34 when booked online, with overnight stays currently available for just £60 per person.
Find out more at thorpepark.com
Little ones will love the half-term fun at Drayton Manor this year, as the park opens for Dinosaur Breakout and Thomasland Rides only between February 10 to 20.
The theme park has its very own Viking Land of Discovery, Adventure Cove with its river rapids and tidal towers, a zoo, Thomasland and a selection of rides, shops and restaurants.
Tickets for Dinosaur Breakout start from £15 for 2-3 year olds and £23 for visitors 4 years and over. The park reopens in March with prices starting from £23 per person if you book online.
Find out more at draytonmanor.co.uk
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
The world-famous pleasure beach re-opens for 2024 on March, 2.
Visitors to the coastal resort can take a ride on the Fairy World Taxi Spin, enjoy an epic adventure looking for the Backyardigans Pirate Treasure or prepare to take a soaking at SpongeBob’s Splash bash at Nickelodeon Land.
There are also lots of family-friendly rides to enjoy as well as the UK’s scariest amusement park rides including Infusion, The Big One and Icon.
Tickets start from £35 for adults and £30 for juniors.
Find out more at blackpoolpleasurebeach.com
Little ones will be able to pay a visit to Peppa, George and all their friends and family this half term, with Paultons Park opening from February, 10.
Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park is the UK’s only Peppa Pig Theme Park with 9 fun rides, where toddlers and children under 1 year old can go free.
Visitors to the park can also see yeh-haw to the American theme park at Tornado Springs, greet the dinosaurs in The Lost Kingdom, discover the mini-beats at Critters Kingdom and meet the animals at Wild Lands.
The park is opening during half-term as well as on selected dates and weekends throughout March, before opening fully in April.
Tickets start from £43.50 in advance or £58.50 on the day.
Find out more at paultonspark.co.uk.
How to pay less for your 2024 theme park visits
Even with the discounts available online, entry to many of the UK’s best attractions can be pricey.
Follow these top tips to get the cost down further.
Use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers
Tesco Clubcard members can exchange their Clubcard vouchers for a Tesco Clubcard Reward Partner Code giving reduced or even free entry to a range of theme parks and wildlife parks throughout the UK.
Members will receive two times the value of their accumulated club card vouchers which can be used when purchasing tickets for Chessington World of Adventure, Oakwood Theme Park, Pleasurewood Hills, Alton Towers, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Drayton Manor, LEGOLAND Windsor, Thorpe Park and Wicksteed Park.
Travel with National Rail
Pre-booking your train tickets can help to save money with the National Rail 2for1 Days Out promotion that is available at selected times of the year, you could save even more.
Funseekers simply need to register with Days Out Guide and buy a National Rail ticket to get 2for1 entry to more than 80 UK attractions, including Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and LEGOLAND Windsor.
The full list of eligible attractions can be found here.
Invest in a Merlin Pass
Regular visitors to theme parks including LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Madame Tussauds Blackpool, The Dungeons, Blackpool Tower, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Alton Towers could save big by investing in a Merlin Annual Pass.
Covering entry to 29 UK destinations, the Merlin Pass offers free or heavily discounted entry for a selected number of visits. All but the most expensive Platinum Pass have some restrictions on the dates they can be used and each pass is priced per person.
Discovery Pass £99 – provides 200 days of off-peak entry making it a good choice for families with children under school age.
Silver Pass £169 annually or £10.99 per month (plus £39.99 joining fee) – Includes over 300 days of entry as well as selected additional benefits including 10% off food and drink and discounted friends and family tickets.
Gold Pass £239 annually or £15.99 per month (plus £49.99 joining fee) – Giving over 340 days of entry, this pass includes free parking, £5 off Fasttrack vouchers and 20% off selected retail, food and beverage. It also comes with fewer exclusion dates.
Platinum Pass £299 annually or £20.99 per month (plus £59.99 joining fee) – This range-topping pass comes with 364 entry days and also includes free parking, £5 off Fasttrack Vouchers, and discounts and money-off promotions.
With entry tickets for most UK attractions costing between £25 and £38 per person, the Discover Pass would pay for itself if you made three or four visits a year. In contrast, the Platinum Pass requires a little more dedication to the cause and as many as ten visits to cover the initial cost.
Find out more about the Merlin Annual Pass, here.
Look for deals on Wowcher
Deal site Wowcher offers reduced prices on a selection of days out and attractions across the UK.
At the time of writing, the voucher website had discount deals available for Chessington World of Adventures, Gullivers and Hoo Zoo and Dinosaur World.
Dates are available throughout the year, with some packages including overnight accommodation.