Today was the worse day I’ve ever experienced here and we have been coming here for years. We really love this place and have had Merlin passes previously but due to recent hikes in prices and an ever shrinking household budget plus the fact we only ever really used them to visit here was excited by the prospect of getting season passes for £55. If it wasn’t for the fact that we live 40-50 mins away and my eldest has an ambition to become a roller coaster designer/engineer in the future (she would love to do her work experience here) then we would not be returning!! I have never had to wait to get into the actual place but had to wait 45 mins in a traffic queue. We should have turned back home then. Granted it was the height of the arrival period so dismissed this and was happy to be parked near to the walking path but to then have to wait an additional hour to be served just to get a ticket to get through the turnstiles is bloody ridiculous!! Once in the park we avoided the big queue for the box office to actually get our passes knowing from previous years how long they take to actually serve customers and print them so went to Galatica (which was the shortest queue at 30 mins). I love the fact you get the option now of riding it without VR. After waiting more than stated time due to the amount of fast track passes bumping up the time we headed for food as we had been in the park for nearly 3 hours and was famished. There are no eating places in the area apart from the rollercoaster restaurant so had to walk over to the food stands near the wicker man. We then queued for nearly an hour to ride the smiler only for it to break down. At this point my youngest child (who is autistic) was getting distressed at all the walking and waiting around. We had settled for the fact that it was busy as it was a nice day and wouldn’t get on many rides but would have our passes to come back. Even planning for a day next week. We gave up on the smiler so headed towards the box office knowing it would now shut at 6pm and wanted to get in the queue for wicker man before it shut as this was the one ride my eldest wanted to go on and was prepared to queue a long time but again the box office queue was long and it was half 3 so headed towards thirteen (our favourite ride) which had gone down from 120 mins to an hour. We took the sky ride as the youngest one was complaining about her legs only for it to keep stopping!! Thirteen was brilliant as ever even if it did seem painfully slow to get going and get off! At this point we knew we had to get our passes. The dilemma was we wouldn’t make the wicker man queue before closing!! We had to wait an hour to get the passes and my eldest was distraught and in floods of tears as the time ticked away and we got served at 6:05. Some rides were saying closed and others saying the waiting times so asked if some rides were still open but they as told the ride queues closed at 6pm. I have now promised my eldest that we will go back tomorrow afternoon to avoid traffic queues so we can go on wicker man ( in the hope it doesn’t break down). We have the luxury of living nearby and kept on telling her that there were people there that had travelled a greater distance and got the same amount of disappointment as us. I feel sorry for those people and having read a lot of the reviews from all week can see why a lot of people are turned off returning. I can’t believe a big company such as Merlin did not foresee the problems with the new system!! Why can’t there be a season/annual pass turnstile near the car park?? Why is the monorail and sky ride not running till later?? Why the staggered times? Surely you can afford to pay more staff the amount you’re taking each day!! Can’t you limit the number of people visiting on nice days or limit the number of fast pass and disabled passes which bump up queue times?? Why only 13 out of 17 ticket windows open on a busy day? And surely there must be an easier way of getting the passes?? Hoping this place can get back to being the family orientated magical place it once was!
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