Merlin Entertainments Group has moved to clarify issues raised by its decision to introduce parking charges for Annual Passholders across its range of UK theme parks.
The company enraged existing passholders when it revealed the plans to begin charging Standard Annual Passholders for parking at Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, LEGOLAND Windsor and Chessington World of Adventures. To try and soothe disgruntled commenters on its Facebook page, Merlin has sought to present other changes as negating the effect of the parking charges.
According to Merlin, existing Standard Annual Passholders will continue to receive free parking for the duration of their current pass. They will then have the option to upgrade to the Premium Annual Pass at a cost of less than £150 (the 2010 price of a Standard Annual Pass), with full details due to be released today.
The cost of Standard Annual Passes will be reduced to reflect the introduction of the parking charges, falling to £145 for individuals and £95 each for families of 3, 4 or 5 members. For 2011, holders of the Standard passes will now be able to gain entry to Madame Tussaud's Blackpool (which is due to open in April) and the Blackpool Tower. However, some additional terms and conditions have been introduced, such as restricting entry for passholders to LEGOLAND Windsor during August to after 2pm.
Meanwhile, the Premium Annual Pass has been reduced in price to £175 for individuals and £125 each for families of 3, 4 or 5 members following the furore. The pass includes all of the benefits of the Standard Annual Pass, plus free parking at all of Merlin's attractions.
The response from Merlin has done little to calm the anger on social networks and forums such as Towers Times, which continue to be inundated with negative feedback on the parking charge changes.
What do you think of Merlin's decision to introduce parking charges for Annual Passholders? Let us know through the comments section below.