Merlin’s new VIP annual pass: Worthy of £500?

Air at Alton TowersMerlin Entertainments has announced a £500 ‘VIP’ annual pass, which offers an extensive number of benefits at its attractions.

But how popular will uptake of the product be? We take a closer look at the new pass and its offered benefits.

As well as the obvious unlimited entry to all of Merlin’s UK attractions, the pass actually provides access to all of the company’s attractions globally.

Unlimited food and drink was widely expected as being a perk of the new VIP pass, following many months of market research by Merlin.

However, the product only includes unlimited drinks – something available to lesser ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ annual pass holders for a modest surcharge.

The on ride-photo inclusions that had been a feature of marketing questionnaires, have also failed to materialise.

‘Unlimited Fastrack’

The biggest selling point in the VIP pass’s list of benefits seems to be the inclusion of what is described as “unlimited fastrack”.

Worth £90 per visit at Alton Towers, £70 at Thorpe Park and £60 at Chessington World of Adventures – this is where the new £500 could really be taken advantage of.

However, doing that may not be entirely straightforward.

Unless you are a family of pass holders (in which case the passes can be yours for £400 each), you will need to have another VIP pass holder as a guest, or talk your party into forking out for the above prices.

The Swarm at Thorpe ParkAlternatively, you could ride alone – and with this product being targeted at the most die-hard of fans, that is not beyond the realms of possibility.

It should be noted that the new pass’s terms and conditions have not yet been released, and it is not actually confirmed that the “unlimited fastrack” will be for one use at each of the parks, or is truly unlimited across them all.

The ‘exclusive’ 1,000 of the passes being made available are theoretically capable of generating half a million pounds of income.

The product’s launch – set for March next year – is likely to be the first of many shareholder-pleasing introductions in 2014 now that Merlin is a public company.

It remains to be seen how popular the passes will be, with a ‘waiting list’ of interested people being compiled by people signing up for email updates on the new product.

With some details remaining a little sketchy, it may be too early to assess the true worth of the new product – but it can be said that owning a VIP annual pass could at times be a lonely venture.