Half term fun with our Merlin Annual Passes

Having just been away to Bournemouth for Harry’s birthday and making use of our Merlin Passes twice while we were there by visiting the Weymouth Sealife Centre and LEGOLAND on the way home, it got me planning a more local family fun adventure over the half term.

So yesterday we headed off on a surprise adventure – the children knew we were off to London but didn’t know what I had planned.

Forward planning saw me booking a timeslot for Shrek’s Adventure, now as we have our Merlin passes this attraction is free for us but as it is new and half term booking a time slot is advised, you can do this on the website and it costs £1 per person per merlin pass and is definitely worth doing unless you go early in the day and don’t mind being booked into a later show in the day.  You are then emailed a booking reference number which you need to take with you – the easiest option is to show the staff this on your phone or take a print out with you.

I booked a later showing as I planned on also visiting the Sealife Centre and taking the kids on the London Eye at night, something they hadn’t done yet.

They were very excited upon arriving in London and finding out what we were doing, although I only revealed each surprise just before we headed into that attraction (just incase plans had to be changed).

We had a time slot of 3.45pm for Shrek’s Adventure so joined the queue at around 3.15pm, we had to go inside to claim our tickets and then head back outside to queue.  We were told we were too early to join the queues yet so sent away and asked to return at 3.45pm – we went and found a mini arcade  for a while to kill time, I regret listening to the staff here as our time slot came and went, as did the next few.  We actually finally got inside an hour later with Emmy desperate for the loo, a downside to taking children to attractions on your own as you can’t just leave the queue for a pitstop and the children did get bored with all the waiting around.

Once inside you break off into groups of around 40 to do the tour together, today the bus was broken so instead of watching the beginning film in 4D we watched on a normal screen (not a huge deal as it’s only about 3 and a half minutes long but it would have been nice to experience – it is out of action all of half term at least).

During the film you manage to run over a witch in the bus (or you should if it was working) and then you have to escape the witches and find Shrek.  You are led through into different rooms during the tour, each decorated to look like different parts of Far Far Away and you will meet various characters along the way from the swamp to the bakery, to Cinderella to The ugly step sister in the Poison Apple.

The rooms and corridors are dark, with special effects to help set the scene.  Emmy loved this although gripped my hand when the lights went out completely, Harry however was terrified – usually he isn’t at all bothered by this type of thing however he was tired and it was late so he cried he wanted to go home a fair bit and I felt awful for him.  In the lighter rooms he was fine as long as he could see where I was, adults are encouraged to stand at the back to allow children to see all the action at the front – I completely agree with this however it made him uneasy.

What actually surprised me was Emmy joining in – she just doesn’t do this even in a familiar environment, yet she was shouting out the jests and cheers along with the other children happily and as usually happens with these type of attractions adult visitors are pulled into the action and encouraged to join in – and at times too pulled into the show and onto the stage – be warned!

Being claustrophobic the hall of mirrors was particularly horrid for me, especially as Harry was clinging to me for dear life and some children had raced ahead without their parents as they were at the front and closest to the door – this provoked a mild panic in both parents and some of the children (although they seemed to care a lot less than the parents).

Overall this experience was really good and Emmy had fun, it is still new and has a very kinks to iron out such as the queuing system as also in my queue were people with 4.30 time slots who wanted to queue early so they could visit other attractions (yes I’m nosey and end up talking to those around me) so perhaps there needs to be separate lines for the time slots, this would also help the lines move faster as we were all let through together today).

Photo opp with Dream Works Characters, neither would go near Shrek

You can’t take photographs or videos once inside so I am lacking those to share with you and I would advise that it is scary for younger children even those who are never worried or scared by anything (I would never have imagined Harry to be worried or upset here or I wouldn’t have taken him in – he didn’t dislike it all thankfully).

After this we then headed straight into the London Aquarium, it was around 6.15pm by then and there were NO queues at all and of course with Merlin passes you bypass the ticket lines anyway – we walked straight in!  It is open until 8pm so it is a great time to visit, inside was really empty too.

I let the children take the lead, they ran off to the tanks they wanted to see, showed their Shrek toys the big fish and really enjoyed the freedom they’ve not had in this attraction before.

We have visited around 5 times at least with the kids and each time during the day and it is always busy inside, I usually have to steer them around people and they have to wait to get to the front of the tanks but not on this occasion.

This was our quickest visit, now this could be that they’ve been so many times, or it could be that they could actually see everything straight away (except their favourites, the Penguins who had been put to bed and the lights turned off).  We were out again in an hour – this was enough for the kids though.

After a quick bite to eat we headed to the fast track entrance of the London Eye and were aboard our pod in less than 5 minutes – it was really quiet at this time and the views across London we spectacular at night.

The children had an amazing day out, were treated to an ice cream at around 8.15pm while we wandered back across to see Big Ben and then caught the train home.

It was a long and busy day for them both, arriving home at almost 9.30pm but boy did we have fun.

We are planning this again soon so that Paul can join us too.

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One thought on “Half term fun with our Merlin Annual Passes

  1. Reading this really makes me miss our Merlin cards which we had for 3 years. We were always off on an adventure. Great review about the new attraction but totally agree they need to sort the queuing system out. I bet the London Eye was amazing in the dark x

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