The Magic Gardens: FAQs

Ticketing changes

What has changed?
During the winter months, a lot has been happening inside the Magic Garden. The Moat has been replaced with a fountain plaza in response to feedback received last year. The area will contain eleven fountains and is fully accessible. We expect this area to be popular with our younger visitors, offering even more choice of features to be enjoyed by all ages, but particularly those between 3 and 5 years old. Bench seating is now provided in the Wild Wood area and additional planting has been carried out on the Mount along the stairs leading from the crown

Why has the age been lowered for which children are now required to purchase a ticket?
In its first year in 2016, the Magic Garden proved very popular with families. We welcomed 1800,000 visitors during the opening season.  This year, we’ve added even more exciting new features suitable for under 5s and our pricing now reflects this.  

If I only decide I want to visit the Maze do I have to pay for my child who is aged 3 or 4 years?
No you don’t. 

What if I decide to upgrade my Magic Garden / Maze combined ticket to a Palace ticket?
If you wish to spend longer at Hampton Court we strongly advise you purchase a Palace ticket online. You can choose to have your Palace tickets posted or collect onsite from the ticket office. This will save you money and time as you will not have to return to a ticket sales point to upgrade. If you do purchase a Magic Garden / Maze combined ticket and then decide you wish to enjoy the Palace and formal gardens, the ticketing team will be happy to advise.

What if I plan to visit the Magic Garden several times?
If you and your children have had so much fun you will definitely be coming to see us again, we recommend purchasing an annual Historic Royal Palaces membership. If your children are aged under 5 years, you can purchase either an individual or joint adult membership. Should you chose to pay by direct debit, you get 15 months for the price of 12 for your first year of membership and this entitles you to unlimited entry to our sites. Please visit the member’s page or speak to a member of staff when you arrive. If you wish to pay by direct debit, this can be done either in person at the main ticket office (not the Magic Garden kiosk) or by printing the form online, completing and posting to our membership office.

Have there been any other ticket changes applicable to just the Magic Garden?
All our prices remain unchanged; however we are now only offering a concession to seniors. We recognise the important role seniors play in providing childcare so it seems only right that the concessions rate is available to those affected.

I am a member. Does this mean that I need to purchase a ticket for children aged 3-5 years?
As a valued member, you will not incur extra costs if you bring children under 5 years to the Magic Garden, but we would like to capture the details of all children living at your address who you wish to be included in your membership. This will enable the membership team to contact you about family activities and events at all our sites. Upon renewing your membership, please provide us with the names and dates of birth of all children you wish to bring. 

I'm a member. Who can use my membership card to visit the Magic Garden?
Please remember that membership entitles only those named on the card to enter. Any additional or unnamed guests will be required to purchase additional tickets.

How many children can I bring?
In order to ensure the safety of children playing we require a minimum of one adult for every 6 children. If children are aged under 5, we advise a ratio of 1 adult to 5 children.

I am a teacher and interested in bringing a school group. Is this possible?
The Magic Garden is suitable for pre-school and KS1 aged children as it meets the learning through play criteria of the National Curriculum. A ratio of 1 adult to 5 children is required. There is no education rate available, however the adults in the group are free of charge. Please contact hamptoncourt@hrp.org.uk  for further information and a booking form. Bookings must be made in advance and must be booked during term time, excluding weekends. You will be asked to select from a choice of four timeslots.

Arriving at the Magic Garden

On busy days all everyone arriving will be required to queue. Please have your tickets and/or membership card ready for scanning. If you have a membership card, please remember that only the named people on the card are permitted to enjoy the benefits this brings. You and your guest may be asked to provide ID. Any adult guest who is not named on the card will be require to purchase a ticket prior to entry.

I am planning to meet with friends at the Magic Garden, what do you advise?
If you are planning to meet friends and wish to ensure that you are all able to enjoy the garden together, please arrange a suitable meeting place (e.g. rose garden) before joining the queue to enter the Magic Garden. This will ensure that you are all able to enter together. If you are arranging to meet people but have been held up, we will try to get you in as soon as possible, however on busy days, you will have to wait until people inside are called out.

Inside the Magic Garden

Is the Magic Garden wheelchair accessible?
Every effort has been made to make the site as accessible as possible; however there are some features such as the aerial walkways and some of the wild wood paths that are not accessible. The new fountain area is accessible and can be enjoyed by everyone. 

What happens if I lose sight of my child?
There is only one entry / exit point at the Magic Garden and the ticketing team ensure that unaccompanied children (anyone aged up to the age of 15 years) do not enter or leave the Magic Garden. If you lose sight of your child please be assured they will be inside hiding somewhere and they are probably watching you whilst you hunt for them in the towers, the wild wood and the grotto area! We strongly recommend all adults walk around the Magic Garden with their children to familiarise themselves with the layout and to identify those places where you know your child may hide.

Can I leave my child in the Magic Garden?
No. The Magic Garden is an unsupervised play area. Whilst we have staff positioned by the entrance and Magic Gardeners inside their role is to provide advice, care for and maintain the garden and keep an eye out for any child or parent that looks lost. All our staff are happy to help locate lost children and provide first aid assistance but they are not responsible for your children. In the event a child is found on their own and the responsible adult cannot be found, staff will follow our safeguarding procedure and if the responsible adult cannot be found the relevant social services department will be contacted.

What if I need first aid?
There are first aid trained staff on site and based in the area of the Magic Garden itself – simply find one of the Magic Garden attendants or one of the team at the entry kiosk and they will call a first aider for you.

Have you provided any additional shade?
Whilst we experienced some exceptionally hot, dry weather last year, there are no additional areas of cover. As the vegetation matures over the years, available shade will increase but unfortunately we will need to let nature take its course! When visiting on hot days, please ensure you bring adequate water resistant sun protection (hats, sun screen, sun glasses, loose clothing), follow the government health guidelines and avoid being in direct sunlight between the hours of 11:00 and 14:00. If you bring a plastic water bottle you can refill this using the drinking water fountains to prevent dehydration. In very hot weather, surfaces will get hot including the encampment area, astro-turf and metal slides so please try to ensure that suitable footwear is worn at all times. Staff will be able to recommend area of shade outside the Magic Garden and please remember you are able to re-visit later in the day.

What happens if we experience extreme weather conditions?
If you visited last year you will remember that on a few occasions we had to close the slides due to hot surface temperatures. This was to ensure the health and safety of our visitors. Should we be fortunate enough to experience a long hot, dry summer again, the temperature of the slides will be monitored and appropriate action taken. If we experience very cold wet weather conditions the fountains will be turned off until conditions improve. It may also be necessary to close the slides, as wet conditions result in people travelling much faster! Whilst this may cause some disappointment, again our main concern is visitor comfort and enjoyment.

Will my children get wet playing in the Magic 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 wish to bring a change of clothes and a towel, especially if you are planning on visiting 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. Adults must not wear swimwear.

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 visit safely. If capacity is reached then it may be necessary to suspend entry until people inside leave. The Admissions Team will be on hand to advise.  We know that children can get bored when queuing however our concern is visitor comfort and enjoyment along with the health and safety of those inside. As with other popular attractions, during the holiday periods, queuing is not uncommon. The ticketing team will endeavour to get you into the Magic Garden as quickly as they can. If you have to wait please understand our priority is visitor enjoyment and your health and safety. Anyone who is rude or abusive towards staff may be refused entry and if already inside the Magic Garden will be asked to leave.  We really want all our visitors and staff to have the best experience possible!

Will you limit the time we can spend in the Magic Garden?
At weekends, bank holidays and during school holidays as with last year, if we are busy we will need to limit the time you can spend in the Magic Garden. This is for visitor comfort and to ensure everyone has a chance to enjoy the garden. Don’t forget that you are welcome to come back later in the day!

How will I know when I have to leave?
All visitors will be issued with a wristband, the colour of which will vary according to the time you arrive. The wristband is not a ticket. It is purely to enable the Magic Garden attendant to identify those people whose timeslot has come to an end. When you are given your wristband, and had your ticket or membership card scanned, a member of the Ticketing Team will advise you of when you may be asked to leave. Please retain your tickets and membership cards as these will need to be scanned at every entry point, and also when you re-enter.

We understand your child may get upset if they are asked to leave before they wish however the procedures we have in place worked well last year. Please do not challenge staff if you are asked to leave. They are simply doing their job and if at any point staff are made to feel threatened or exposed to rude or abusive behaviour you will be asked to leave and no refund will be given.

What can I do with my children? They only like the Magic Garden!
There are plenty of family activities which take place in Hampton Court Palace itself. You may be surprised by how much is on offer! Please check the family activities on the website, or ask a member of staff for more details. If you haven’t experienced a Digital Mission, completed a family trail or dressed up in one of the cloaks to come and meet the king, then now is the time!

Will I be able to come back later in the day?
Where capacity allows, we will be more than happy to welcome you back! During peak times, this may not be possible but we will do our best, whilst ensuring the comfort and safety of those already inside. When leaving please leave your old wristband in one of the bins provided. You will be issued a different coloured wristband when you return later in the day.

What are the busiest times and when may I be asked to wait before entering?
The popularity of the Magic Garden is dependent upon many things including the weather, day of the week (weekends and bank holidays are busier than week days) and whether or not you are planning to visit during the school holidays.  On weekends which fall outside of the schools holidays with favourable weather conditions, the Magic Garden is at its busiest between 10.00 and 14:00. During school holidays, when weather is good, the Magic Garden is busy all day so please be prepared to queue. This applies to all ticket holders and members. On bank holidays and during school holidays, if the weather is hot and sunny, it may be necessary to suspend entry until people inside the garden have left. On these days, people will be asked to leave approximately every 30 minutes so whilst you may have to wait, you will get in!

Can I bring bikes into the Magic Garden?
On quiet days we may be able to accommodate a few small children’s bikes.  Adult bikes must be kept at the cycle racks and are left at the owner’s risk. Cycle racks are located in the lower on-site car park, at the rear of the ticket office and along Tennis Court Lane near the visitor reception office.  We are unable to allow any bicycles, regardless of size into the Magic Garden at weekends and during school and public holidays. This also applies to small trailers.

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 2 drinking water fountains. The dragon kindly requests that these fountains are not used to clean children when changing nappies etc.

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. For more choice, the larger Tiltyard café, located next door, can be reached easily.

Are we able to picnic in the Magic Garden?
The use of picnic blankets, and setting up picnic tables and chairs is not permitted and if seen, may be eaten by our dragon. We understand that in lovely sunny weather, everyone likes to picnic however you will find other parts of the gardens in the non-ticketed areas will be more relaxed and quieter. Please be aware that anyone refusing pack away picnic blankets and chairs etc. will be asked to leave

Are there toilets nearby?
Yes. There are a limited number of toilets, including an accessible toilet and baby changing facilities within the Magic Garden itself. Further toilets are available in the neighbouring Kitchen Garden. As the facilities inside are limited and the Garden gets busy, we kindly ask that should you notify a member of staff in the event that the facilities require some attention.

What can you do to ensure that the Magic Garden can be enjoyed by everyone?

  • Become familiar with the Magic Garden and all of its features so you can decide which features you are comfortable with your child using.
  • Listen to any announcements made so you know when it’s be time to leave.
  • Please keep your wristband on whilst inside the Magic Garden. Anyone found without a wristband may be asked to leave as we will not know how long you have been in there.
  • Please place all litter in the bins provided.
  • Please use the nappy bins in the toilets to prevent blockages.
  • Please do not use picnic blankets in the amphitheatre. You will be asked to put these away and failure to do so could result in you being asked to leave.
  • Please do not allow your child to use their scooters inside the Magic Garden.
  • As the Magic Garden gets busy, please don’t play ball games inside the Magic Garden.
  • Please do not leave your children in the Magic Garden!
  • Please do not smoke or vape in the Magic Garden or by the kiosk entrance area.
  • Please do not consume alcohol inside the Magic Garden.
  • Please do not bring any glass containers into the Magic Garden.
  • Please ensure the behaviour of both yourself and your children does not affect the enjoyment of others.
  • Please respect the many plant species and types of vegetation both inside the Magic Garden and in the surrounding areas.
  • Have fun!

Out staff are here to help and advise and to ensure that the area does not get too busy and that everyone has a great time. Please treat them with respect. Behaviour or language that causes upset to either staff or visitors will not be tolerated and you will be asked to leave and tickets will not be refunded. If you are a member, the membership team will be contacted and appropriate action taken.

By doing all of the above, you and your children will have a fun in the Magic Garden and hopefully return again to claim your crown!

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Explore what's on

Come face to face with mysterious mythical beasts, storm the battlements and discover the secret grotto in the Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace.

Open daily until 29 October 2017