My summer vacation: The Tower of London and Kensington Palace

Raymond Chen

Raymond

During our trip to London, we planned to visit Kensington Palace and the Tower of London. It turns out that for many family configurations, an annual membership costs about the same (sometimes even less) than separate tickets to the two venues.

TicketSeparateMembership
1 adult42.2053.00
2 adults84.4082.00
Child20.40 
1 adult + 3 kids76.9076.00
2 adults + 3 kids106.80108.00

(Prices are as of summer 2019.)

Plugging the above values into common configurations yields this table:

ConfigurationSeparateMembershipNotes
1 adult42.2053.00 
2 adults84.4082.00 
1 adult + 1 kid62.6073.40Child buys separate tickets.
1 adult + 3 kids76.9076.00 
2 adults + 1 kid104.80102.40Child buys separate tickets.
2 adults + 3 kids106.80108.00 
4 adults + 3 kids191.20190.00(This was our group.)

The only case where the membership is significantly more than buying separate tickets the single adult (with or without one child).

Sorry, single adults.

Getting an annual membership also gets you a 10% discount in the gift shop and cafe and (more important when traveling with young children) the freedom to show up whenever you like, rather than having to book a specific date and time.

It did feel weird buying an annual membership for something we were going to use once and throw away.

Some of my friends have found themselves in the same situation at other venues: It ended up being cheaper to buy an annual membership than to buy individual one-time tickets, especially if the annual membership comes with perks like guest passes.

Bonus chatter: If you’re going to do the annual membership thing for Historic Royal Palaces, do so far enough in advance that you can receive your membership card in the mail. Otherwise, you have to stand in the regular ticket line at the venue in order to pick up your membership card.

Bonus bonus chatter: Having an annual membership means that I get monthly newsletters about all the exciting things going on and exclusive member events at a venue I cannot get to. I enjoy seeing all the great things going on, but it’s frustrating not being able to attend any of them.

 

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

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5 comments

  • Avatar
    Oliver Atkins

    It seems as though quite a few UK attractions only offer an annual membership. This seems odd at first, but many museums don’t really anticipate that you will come back regularly, so I think it’s a way to entice you to do so (and spend money anyway in the shop, cafe, etc.). IIRC, Bletchley Park gave annual memberships instead of day-tickets.

    • Avatar
      smf

      It’s not just about spending money in the cafe and gift shop, there is also the “I must take you to this cool place I found” factor. If I’d already got free admission then I’m more likely to drag someone along. In fact they ought to pay me commission.

    • Avatar
      Ian Yates

      Our local theme parks offer annual passes, but only to those kicking within the state (Queensland, Australia)
      Their thinking, I believe, is to make it an easy weekend thing to do so you go several times per year. The food & drink prices are extortionate so that’s their big money spinner.
      They used to police what you could bring in, but last I went (probably 5 years ago now) they didn’t bother looking. It also helps if you have young kids and a stroller since they really don’t check into the nappy bag, etc 😉

    • Avatar
      Sam Holloway

      It’s for tax relief reasons. Charities can claim tax back on donations via the Gift Aid scheme. Some time ago, this was extended to charitable ‘donations’ in return for admission to an attraction or museum. But there are caveats for this to be allowed: either an additional donation has to be made (so there is a higher admission fee), or the charity has to give an annual membership. This is why you see this scheme offered so widely – Bletchley Park is one such example! Further notes can be found at https://www.museumsassociation.org/campaigns/museums-and-tax/gift-aid-on-admissions

  • Avatar
    Chris Crowther

    If you go to Tankfest at the Tank Museum in Bovington you get an annual membership as part of the cost of the festival ticket, iirc. I think a lot of museums here like to encourage you to come back more often so you spend more money at the shops, which is probably where they make most of their money.

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