/ Money, Parenting, Travel & Leisure

Theme parks cost children the same as adults: are you kidding?

Our satisfaction survey of visitor attractions shows that there are many quality tourist sights across the country to choose from this half-term. But should school-age children really have to pay the same as adults?

With the half-term holidays just getting underway for many UK families, this week will be the last chance to have a day out at visitor attractions before their winter closedown.

And with thousands of tourist sights to choose from, Which? Travel magazine has recently revealed the best and worst visitor attractions in the country, based on a survey of 3,001 members of the public.

It’s no great surprise to see that those with the highest scores are free of charge, with London’s Imperial War Museum, Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden and Cardiff’s St Fagan’s National History Museum all achieving a customer score of 85% or more.

When does a child become an adult?

But many of the 72 attractions in the survey – including several theme parks – do charge for admission. And, we found they have wildly differing policies on the age at which a child must pay the same as an adult.

18 year-olds visiting Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral can still get in paying a child price, and visitors to the Eden Project and Cardiff Castle only have to pay an adult price once they turn 17.

On the other hand, parents will have to fork out the full adult price for their 12 year-old when they turn up at Warwick Castle, or at theme parks such as Thorpe Park and Alton Towers (£40 rather than £32 for a one-day pass).

Even more extreme, Flamingoland charges pre-schoolers (over three years old!) the same entry price as adults – £27 for the day. Although it offers a family ticket discount, it’s no good for two adults bringing just one youngster – the total will be £81. Still, at least this adult price is cheaper than a child paying on the gates at Alton Towers. But is this fair, when the park includes extreme rides that young children can’t go on?

Should children pay more than adults?

Perhaps it all depends on how much of the attraction’s entertainment is suitable for children. At Wicksteed Park, children actually pay a third more than adults do for a rides wristband.

The park explains that this is because its paid-for rides are largely aimed at younger children and so not suitable for adults, so adults in fact get a discount. But Legoland is geared mainly to children, and yet it offers cheaper admission for children all the way up to the age of 16. That’s more like it!

Of course, this doesn’t only apply to tourist sights, as parents buying airline tickets for their twelve year-olds can testify. Do you think this inconsistency over age limits is wrong?


On the Which? page about the best and worst attractions it mentions: “the Science Museum were among others scoring top marks…”

Could you let me know Which Science Museum it is referring to as I would like to add to the visitor numbers and visit some of the identified attractions.?


Just to add to my comment above: I sometimes think with some attractions children should pay more as they benefit more from those attractions that are aimed at children. At some attractions the adults are just excess baggage but they still pay full price.


I can whole-heartedly recommend Manchester museum of science and industry, all but special visiting attractions are free, it takes a very full day to get around everything and don’t forget the aircraft hangar across the road, which is also part of the site.

A shining example of just how good an attraction can be, instead of the overpriced, money-grabbing half bake priced rubbish that’s on offer for families.

Thanks Jonathan and Frugal ways ( great screen name by the way)

kester gillard says:
18 November 2011

My worst experience has been today at the Cinema Museum in London. The museum itself has an interesting and eclectic mi of material, but the guide was obsessed with the French couple on the tour and ignored the rest of us, had a condescending attitude, sneered about the yearly Home Movies Day that they hold there, and was incredibly uninfornative about anything except Pathe. My mate and I had done as was requested on the website and booked our tour in advance, yet even though in the end thee were only 5 of us, we had no interest shown in us at all. Very disappointing as I am a film buff and had been excited about going there. I did complain and didn’t have to pay, but that’s not the point. I also got the feelingt that we were begrudged as visitors and I had wanted to go to the shop, but it wasn’t open. The guide never even gave us his name or engaged with anyone except this couple. Shameful.

Charged full price today at Crealy Cornwall for a 9 year old who is over 1 metre tall.
Since when has height been a measure of Adulthood????
Absolutely furious especially as half the rides were closed.
Avoid this place like the plague