How much money will a family ticket save you at the UK’s top attractions?
A family day out can be a fun and enjoyable experience for kids and adults alike. However, things can often get a little stressful for the parents, as it can be challenging to keep their little ones happy and entertained for the whole day. No one enjoys a chorus of “are we there yet?” from the back seat.
So, putting aside the toys, cuddly teddies, dolls’ pushchairs and the rest, there’s still one thing that can cause unwanted stress and detract from the family fun, ticket prices. Many UK attractions can put a parent out of pocket, especially when paying for the whole gang.
Thankfully, family tickets are now commonplace at all sorts of family-friendly attractions and venues, helping to ease the financial burden, but just how good value are they? And do they make financial sense for single parents, who don’t need a spare adult ticket in the first place?
To help answer these questions, we’ve delved into the ticket prices at many of the UK’s favourite family day-trip destinations. We’ll be comparing the value of family tickets against buying them individually, as well as looking at how prices have changed over the last five years.
Family tickets: are they worth it?
Family tickets are designed to help parents take their children out to all sorts of different attractions. These can be historical sights, cultural experiences, or just some good fun for the whole family.
We wanted to find out how much on average you can save with a family ticket, as well as whether outdated or traditional pricing structures leave single parents at a financial disadvantage.
Family ticket savings: 2 adults vs single parent
The table above shows the average costs and savings that families can expect when purchasing a family ticket compared to individual tickets at UK attractions. This is based on data from 23 popular family-friendly UK attractions.
The table shows us the costs and savings for a family of four, with two adults and two children, compared with a family of one adult and two children. This highlights the most affordable option for each family and indicates how much they can expect to save.
On average, the family of four will save 13.34% by purchasing a family ticket instead of individual tickets. Yet, for a single-parent family of three, a standard family ticket is usually more expensive than purchasing the tickets individually, costing approximately 17.06% more.
However, many venues and attractions have started implementing family tickets intended for a single adult and several children. This helps make family days out more affordable for single parents, who would usually be paying a premium to give their kids a fun experience.
Where family tickets for single parents are available, they will save approximately 15.11% on average.
The rising cost of tickets at UK attractions
We looked at some of the country’s most well-known child-friendly attractions for a family day out, and compared their current ticket prices to those in 2016, five years ago. In order to compare prices more effectively, we only looked at attractions that had a family ticket option available.
Adult tickets have had the smallest increase in price over the past five years. However, they have still increased in value by a substantial 29.17%, up to £18.29 from £14.16 on average.
Child tickets are the ticket type that has increased in value the most since 2016 and are now worth 32.58% more on average. While this might only represent a small average increase of £2.90, these expenses can quickly add up, especially if you’ve got an excitable child to keep entertained.
Family tickets have grown in price by 31.62% to £52.16 from an average price of £39.63 in 2016. Despite this sizable increase, they remain the best value option for families that include two adults and two or more children. Families with only one adult benefit most from family tickets designed for a single adult, otherwise purchasing individual tickets can often work out to be the cheapest option.
The UK attractions with the biggest price increases
Here we take a closer look at the ticket prices of individual attractions in the UK. These are all child-friendly and offer a family ticket as an option for parent and child groups.
Top ten most-increased adult ticket prices (%)
1 – Carlisle Castle – Five-year price increase: 110%
Carlisle Castle had the greatest price increase of the attractions we looked at, with prices rising by a whopping 110% over the last five years. However, this only accounts for an actual price increase of £6.60, as it now costs £12.60 for an adult ticket compared to £6 in 2016.
2 – Tintagel Castle – Five-year price increase: 80.46%
Another famous fortification, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall is the attraction with the second-highest price increase for an adult ticket, with prices rising 80.46% since 2016. In real terms, this reflects a £7 increase from £8.70 in 2016 to £15.70 today.
3 – The Roman Baths – Five-year price increase: 80%
The Roman Baths, which give the city of Bath its name, experienced the third-highest price increase, at 80%. Prices rose from £15 in 2016 to £27 today, so it’s cash you’ll have to splash to experience these baths.
Top ten most-increased child ticket prices (%)
1 – Carlisle Castle – Five-year price increase: 111.11%
Carlisle Castle is also the attraction with the biggest rise in child ticket prices, up by 111.11% from their 2016 levels. However, these tickets are relatively affordable in real terms, costing £7.60 per child.
2 – The Roman Baths – Five-year price increase: 105.26%
The Roman Baths experienced a greater price increase for children’s tickets than it did for adults, as prices rose by 105.26% in the last five years. This equates to a £10 increase from £9.50 in 2016, to £19.50 in 2021.
3 – Kew Gardens – Five-year price increase: 100%
Kew Gardens takes third place with childrens’ tickets doubling in value since 2016. Yet, this only reflects a £2.50 rise up to £5, so you won’t need a magic money tree to explore these gardens.
Top ten most-increased family ticket prices (%)
(Minimum 2 Adults & 2 Children)
1 – Carlisle Castle – Five-year price increase: 107.59%
Carlisle Castle is also the attraction with the biggest increase in the price of a family ticket, costing 107.59% more than five years ago. This reflects a £17 increase from £15.80 to £32.80.
2 – Tintagel Castle – Five-year price increase: 80.53%
Tintagel Castle’s family tickets have increased by 80.53% since 2016, the second-highest rate of all the attractions in our study. A family of four can now expect to pay £40.80 for a family ticket, £18.20 more than they would have done five years ago.
3 – Clifford’s Tower – Five-year price increase: 79.82%
Clifford’s Tower in York takes third place with a family ticket having increased in price by 79.82%. However, this only represents a comparatively modest increase in real terms, with ticket prices rising from £11.40 in 2016 to £20.50 in 2021.
We wanted to find out whether family tickets really are good value for money, and whether single parents can also benefit from the savings they offer. To do this, we compiled a list of some of the top UK family destinations. We looked at various online sources such as articles and Tripadvisor to build our list of destinations.
We then visited each attraction’s website in order to find out how much a family ticket would cost. If the attraction offered a family ticket, we took down its price along with the price of an adult ticket and a child ticket for comparison. If the attraction also had a family ticket available for single adults, we took the price for this down as well.
Once we had the current prices for the various tickets at the attractions, we wanted to collect the historic ticket prices as well. This would allow us to see how much the value of a ticket had changed over time. To do this, we used the Wayback Machine at web.archive.org to visit each attraction’s website at points in time when it was previously crawled. We chose to find ticket values from 2016 as this data becomes more scarce the further back you go, and 2016 data would represent a 5-year price difference.
We used the historical data to form a picture of how prices have changed over time, indicating which tickets are becoming more expensive. Historical data was not available for all attractions, so we were unable to use all of the attractions for the price comparison.