Magic Garden Frequently Asked Questions
The Magic Garden will close for winter from 30 October until spring 2017
Why does the Magic Garden close for the winter?
The Magic Garden was always planned to be a family friendly feature aimed as those who chose to visit during the Spring, Summer and autumn months. The closure period will enable any remedial maintenance work to be carried out and helps to ensure that when open, all areas are accessible to everyone who wishes to enjoy this unique addition to the Hampton Court Palace offer. As this is our first year of opening, much of the work due to take place is in response to your feedback received. Thanks to the time taken by those who have provided feedback, the moat area will be re-designed during the winter months to provide a feature which can enjoyed by all next year. As the health and safety of our visitors is at the forefront of everything that we do, the area will be undergoing considerable works and will only be accessible to those carrying out these works in a controlled environment.
Does that mean that the Magic Garden will only close for winter 2016?
Sadly not. The Magic Garden will always close for the winter months. This is to ensure that everything can be maintained and allows time for areas of vegetation to rejuvenate and recover following a period of intense footfall and use experienced during the months of opening. We do also need to consider the safety of those using the garden during the winter months when there is an increased risk of snow and ice as well as the lower light levels.
Why do you not close the Maze?
Whilst our Maze is a popular attraction too, the features contained do not require the same levels of maintenance and attention as required In the Magic Garden. As you can appreciate, although children (and adults!) do enjoy running around the Maze the fact it doesn’t include slides, sandpits and towers to climb also mean that any adverse weather has much less of an impact on the area.
What can I do with my children? They only like the Magic Garden
There are plenty of family activities which take place in Hampton Palace itself. You may be surprised about how much is on offer! Please check the family activities section on our website, or ask a member of staff for more details. If you haven’t experienced a digital mission, completed a family trail, come into Clock Court to see our Christmas Tree, visited the BBC Festive Food Fayre or dressed up in one of cloaks to come and meet the king, then winter is definitely the time!
When will the Magic Garden re-open?
We plan to re-open the Magic Garden in mid-March once all our maintenance is completed and our new water fountain play-feature is installed. Clearly we need to complete these works and all the necessary testing before the new season, but as soon as we can re-open we will.
How do I get tickets for the Magic Garden?
There are a number of options.
Palace Ticket – the palace ticket will give you access to everything on site. This includes the Palace itself, formal gardens, Maze and Magic Garden. You can book palace tickets in advance online or you can arrive on the day and purchase your ticket on arrival.
Magic and Maze – this gives you access to the Magic Garden, and also includes entry to the world famous Maze. Magic Garden and maze only tickets are not available online and must be bought at the palace.
Membership – Historic Royal Palaces Membership is a great value way to visit Hampton Court and our other sites, and offers unlimited entry. Please note that members are subject to the same time limits for play on busy days as all our other visitors. (The garden is designed for a range of age groups. It is at your discretion to decide if something is too challenging for your child.)
What age is the Magic Garden suitable for?
The Magic Garden is aimed at children of all ages and we actively encourage families, friends and carers to play together. The wide variety of different play experiences on offer means there is something for all but we consider our main age group families with children from 2 to 13 years old, and Early Years and Key Stage 1 school groups. Our play areas are all fun, challenging and exciting.
How many children can I bring?
Children under 5 are permitted free entry to the Magic Garden. In order to ensure the safety of children playing we do require a minimum of 1 adult for every 5 children visiting.
Is the Magic Garden wheelchair accessible?
Every effort has been made to make the site as accessible as possible, however there are some areas such as the aerial walkways and some of the wild wood paths that are not accessible. Further information on accessibility is available on our website.
What facilities are there when temperatures rise in the summer?
As the Magic Garden is in its infancy, there is currently limited shade available in garden. In order to ensure a safe, comfortable visit, please limit the time spent in direct sunlight, keep hydrated using the drinking water fountains available and ensure that you bring suitable protection from the sun (hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, loose clothing). Remember that you are able to leave the Magic Garden to find areas of shade elsewhere in the Palace grounds and can re-visit later. In very hot weather all surfaces will get hot (sand, astro-turf, metal slides etc.) which means that it will on occasion be necessary to close the large slide. On such days, it is advisable to try and ensure that suitable footwear is worn.
Are there any safety rules and regulations we have to follow?
The garden does contains a range of play equipment and different experiences from sand and water play, Tiltyard Towers, aerial walk-ways, slides, climbing frames and magical beast’s lairs to an amphitheatre, wobbly bridge and a regal crown all making our garden exciting and challenging. Children should be supervised by an adult at all times.
Is the garden supervised?
The entry and exit kiosk is staffed at all times with only one way in and out of the garden and trained staff based there to help you enjoy your visit. We do not staff the garden itself and ask that children are supervised by accompanying adults.
What if I lose my child?
There is only one exit and entry point to the Magic Garden. Should you lose your child please alert a member of staff by the entry kiosk. Please be assured that children are not permitted to leave or enter the Garden without a responsible adult and that the area is covered by CCTV. If we are unable to find the child within 20 minutes we reserve the right to use our public address system to make an announcement requesting the parent returns to the entry kiosk. If a child is found to be unsupervised and cannot be reunited with their parent or carer within 30 minutes we will contact the local authority, reporting that the child has been abandoned.
Will I have to queue for ages to get in?
The Magic Garden does have a limited capacity. This is to ensure that those inside can enjoy their visit safely. Throughout the day there are quieter periods but at peak times we operate a timed exit system issuing wrist-bands allowing entry for a limited period, we ask visitors to leave once this time is up so that others have the opportunity to play. Our staff will be happy to advise you of the best times to visit to avoid the rush.
Can I leave and re-enter?
Yes you can. As with tickets to any area of the palace you can come and go as often as you wish during the day – just hang on to your ticket.Please note that it is not possible to leave a child in the garden while you ‘pop out’ to another area of the palace!
Autumn closing times
Now that the nights are longer than the days, and particularly as we approach the clocks changing, the Magic Garden will close at 17.30. This will mean that we will start clearing it earlier than previously so although last entry remains at 17.15 families will only have quarter of an hour before they will have to leave.
Catering and facilities
Is there drinking water available in the Magic Garden?
Yes, as well as the café which provides a range of hot and cold drinks and snacks there are two drinking water fountains. Do bring your own drinking bottle so you can top up while you play.
Can we bring a picnic to the Magic Garden?
The Magic Garden is very busy and has been built as a play space. On quieter days it may be possible to picnic in some areas of the garden but we find that this limits the space for people to play. Staff at the entrance can let you know where best to picnic in our beautiful grounds. We don’t permit the setting up of picnic tables and chairs within the play areas. We do not permit school groups to picnic in the garden for capacity reasons.
Is there a café in the Magic Garden?
There is. We have a small café serving a limited range of hot and cold drinks and snacks. The larger Tiltyard café is located just next door and offers a wide range of options.
Are there toilets nearby?
Yes. There are a limited number of toilets and baby changing facilities within the Magic Garden itself. Further toilets are available in the neighbouring Kitchen Garden.
Will my children get wet playing in the garden? Do I need to bring any special equipment or clothing?
There is a lot of water-play in the garden, including fountains and streams so you may want to bring a change of clothes and a towel, especially if you are hoping to visit the rest of the palace later. There’s also lots of climbing, sliding and sand to play in so you might want to wear some older clothes that you aren’t worried about getting a little dirty!
Is there a dress code?
Yes there is. Children should be clothed or in swimsuits at all times. For health and safety reasons we ask that younger children are dressed in a nappy or swim nappy when playing in the area.
Are dogs allowed in the Magic Garden?
Sorry, dogs are allowed on other parts of the estate such as Home Park, Barge Walk or in the Wilderness gardens but not in the Magic Garden itself. However, as with the palace and formal gardens, registered assistance dogs are welcome to accompany their owners into the Magic Garden.
Can we bring our bikes and scooters inside?
We’d prefer you to leave them at the bike racks located in the nearby car park, or near to the main palace itself. However, if you have scooters or children’s bikes then you can park those up inside the garden.
What if we need first aid?
There are first aid trained staff on site and based in the area of the garden itself – simply find one of the team at the entry kiosk and they can call a first aider for you.
Is smoking permitted in the Magic Garden?
No, we do allow smoking in the adjacent Kitchen and Tiltyard gardens but not in the Magic Garden itself.
Is alcohol permitted in the Magic Garden?
We don’t permit alcohol in the Magic Garden itself – you are welcome to picnic elsewhere in the grounds.
Can we play ball games in the garden?
You could do – but it would be a little tricky as the garden has many beautiful spaces that have been created to explore and uncover. Although the whole area is quite large it really doesn’t lend itself to ball games. If you are looking for somewhere nearby we would advise the Green which is opposite the palace.
Where’s the best spot so I can keep an eye on my children?
The Magic Garden has been designed with children in mind, and to create a sense of adventure and exploration. This means it isn’t really possible to see your child playing everywhere in the space without moving around with them. There are seating areas throughout the garden and only one way to enter and leave but we would advise you to explore with your child rather than assume you can watch them from one space alone.
Can I drop my children off and pick them up later?
No, you can't. All children under the age of 16 will need to be supervised by an adult. As with the rest of the palace we will not allow unsupervised children into the garden.
Does the garden ever get full?
The garden is very popular with our visitors, especially on a sunny day. If you are visiting the palace as a one-off trip we advise timing your visit to the garden either earlier or late in your day. We are particularly busy around the lunchtime period between 12.00 -14.00.
On occasions the garden does get full and at those times we will close for a period until we can allow more people in to play safely.
Do I need to book tickets for the garden?
No. If you are planning your visit you can book palace tickets in advance online or you can arrive on the day and purchase your ticket on arrival. If you are considering visiting the garden frequently you might want to look at the Family Membership we offer which will give you free access to all six of our palaces as often as you want to visit throughout the year.
We are bringing a school group – can we book a session in the Magic Garden?
Please contact the Historic Royal Palaces Visitor Services Contact Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that the Magic Garden is only suitable for KS1 and pre-school children