Merlin annual pass questions

Found 23rd Nov 2017
I plan on getting merlin annual passes for my children (and me) for Christmas, but have a couple of questions if you can help.

1, are the passes valid from the day of purchase or the first time they are used? So should I wait till we make our first trip to buy them?

2, I am separated from the children's dad. If I was to get family passes for each of us, will we be able to take the children out separately or do all family members have to go together.

3, if not all family pass holders have to be present. So if their dad decided not to pay for a pass for himself (I'm not planing on paying for his, only mine and the children but would give him the option if we can use them separately) can a non family pass holder take two children to an attraction and they use their passes?

trying to work out if it may be better to just get individual passes if it means they can benefit from their dad taking them out when it's his weekend.

sorry if that doesn't make any sense and thank you for the help :
Community Updates
1) it used to work that you bought them, they send you the paperwork then you visit the attraction to pick them up (have your photo taken etc...) and that was the date they start from

2) & 3) not all family members have to be together. You have to buy the passes together to benefit from the family rate, but then can use them independently. So if your kids were invited by friends to go with them, their friends Mum could buy Day tickets for her lot and your kid use their pass.

We used to have them and live near Alton Towers - it was great as we’d just pop in for a few hours.

Other tip is it might be worth upgrading one to platinum in order to get free parking - not sure how the other sites work but I seem to remember at Alton towers you still pay the £4 charge even if you are a pass holder but it was free for platinum. Staff there renewing my passes suggested doing just one of them for the freebie parking.
Thank you
By all means check - it’s been a couple of years since I had them
As bluep said, the passes are valid to be exchanged up to 6 months after purchase (there is usually a sale early Jan if you can hold out til then?) They start from the day you go to a venue to have them made up.
A single premium pass will give you free parking at sites which could save you a few £s if going regularly.
Bear in mind that if you only get 1 premium pass, other pass holders will have to pay an uplift to use the London attractions throughout the summer - and this now applies to all parks too, on Friday / Saturday / Sunday throughout August.
Yes I was planning on going premium on them so we got the extras. I also can get 20% off through my work so no need to wait till the sales.

thank you for your help, I will ask the girls dad if he wants to join in and get a family pass with us, but if not he might opt to take them a couple of times if he only has to pay for himself and they get in with their passe
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