Merlin Entertainments has released a further two new annual passes for its UK attractions.
The Gold and Platinum passes follow the launch of the Merlin Discovery Pass last month.
The three passes replace the former ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ Merlin Annual Passes, which were withdrawn in September.
The Gold Pass allows access to Merlin’s 30 attractions in the UK, with some date exclusions. In 2021 it will not be valid on the following dates:
- 13-14 February
- 2-5 April
- 1-3 May
- 29-31 May
- 28-30 August
- 30-31 October
- 5-7 November
The Gold Pass costs £199 until 4 January next year, when it will change to its standard price of £219.
It also includes standard car parking and a 20% discount on purchases at the attractions.
The Platinum Pass is widely comparable to the former Premium Annual Pass in terms of its access and benefits.
It features no date restrictions during the main season other than the attractions’ operating calendars.
The Platinum Pass will retail for £239 until 4 January 2021, after which it will be sold for the standard price of £299. This is £70 higher than the former Premium Annual Pass.
The new Platinum Pass does not permit entry into Christmas events, concerts or charged attractions-within-attractions.
Like the Gold Pass, it also includes standard parking and 20% off purchases at Merlin’s attractions.
Merlin has confirmed that all pass-holders will remain required to pre-book admission in advance of their visit.
These measures were introduced earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic leading to capacity restrictions at tourist attractions.
There was considerable controversy earlier in the year when numerous dates sold out for pass-holders, but remained available for those paying individually for admission.
Merlin today said: “We’re pleased to confirm that these new passes have been created with your freedom of visitation at the forefront of our thinking.”
Only three future pre-bookings can be made per attraction per Discovery or Gold pass at any one time. Platinum passes may make up to six future bookings per attraction.
These numbers represent the maximum number of advanced reservations for one attraction that can be held at any one time. More bookings become available to pass-holders once they have attended or cancelled existing bookings.
These changes are likely in response to the reported bookings and ‘no shows’ Merlin cited as reasons for introducing short-live pre-booking fees earlier this year.
It is not clear when – or if – the requirement to pre-book will be relaxed.
Discounted family options for all passes have also now been removed in what Merlin says is in response to “valuable feedback”.
Following the pass launch promotion period, a family of four would therefore pay £876 for Gold passes, or £1,196 for Platinum versions.
Merlin said it will be launching pay-monthly ‘membership’ options in Gold and Platinum form next year.