I take a look at annual passes for child-friendly attractions to help Tilly enjoy her final year before school.
At the weekend I decided at short notice to take Tilly to the Enchanted Museum event at the nearby Chiltern Open Air Museum, while ShireMum got on with some marking. The event, held unusually in the late afternoon, was every bit as magical as I had hoped for, featuring a unicorn, dragon plus all manner of other characters and Tilly loved it.
Our visit was made possible by our annual pass for the museum, which allows us to visit as often as we like. As we approach our last year before Tilly starts school, I’m taking a look at the range of annual pass options to see what we might enjoy in those quiet term-time days before they’re gone.
We currently have annual passes for the Chiltern Open Air Museum (COAM) and the National Trust and we make regular use of them both. Although COAM only reopened for the season in March, we’ve already visited around half a dozen times. Often it’s for special weekend features like the Enchanted Museum but sometimes we just take ourselves away for a quiet afternoon. Tilly runs around the site and loves exploring the buildings, greeting the animals, playing with the vintage toys and clambering around the playground and should we feel virtuous we’ll indulge in a visit to the friendly museum cafe.
The COAM offers one of the best value season tickets I’ve come across at just £55 for two adults with Tilly being free as an under four. Depending on the size of the attraction, an annual pass can run into hundreds of pounds but some destinations do offer many hours of activities and entertainment. If you’ve got a local attraction, visiting it regularly with an annual pass could make more sense than paying out for individual trips to other venues.
Season pass prices 2016 for Bucks, Herts, Beds, Berks, London and UK
Prices from low to high
Chiltern Open Air Museum, Buckinghamshire
Two adults (children under 4 go free) £55
Two adults and a child £70
English Heritage, UK-wide
Two adults (all children free) £92.50
Two adults (children under 2 go free) £98
Two adults and a child £125
National Trust, UK-wide
Two adults (includes up to 5 children under 17) £105
ZSL Whipsnade, Hertfordshire, and London Zoo
Two adults (children under 3 go free) £169
Two adults and up to 5 children £229
Odds Farm, Buckinghamshire
Two adults (children under 2 go free) £192
Two adults and a child £282
Two adults (children under 3 go free) £200
Two adults and a child £300
Pre-school adult with child pass: £60
Willows Activity Farm, Hertfordshire
Two adults (children under 2 go free) £282 / £204
Two adults and a child £435 / £318 (weekday term-time)
Merlin Annual Pass, UK-wide
Two adults (children under 3 go free at many sites) £338
Two adults and a child £387
Choosing an annual pass
It’s good to have some variety in activity options, possibly mixing up somewhere convenient and local with a bigger attraction for more occasional visits. I have to say that the Legoland pre-school pass looks appealing, although I’d need to check the terms as it states access can be limited and we normally do pre-school each morning. Whatever you choose, do make sure the attraction has the appeal to keep your child entertained on visit after visit. Tilly can spend hours at the large activity farms but she’s also happy in the more passive explorable space of the open air museum.
Do you have an annual pass for your preschooler? Let me know your experiences and recommends in the comments section.
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