The Magic Gardens: FAQs

Hampton Court Palace's Magic Garden is open for the 2018 season. 

These are some of our most commonly asked questions - you are welcome to get in touch before you arrive, or ask a member of staff on-site, if you have any concerns regarding your visit. 

Opening dates and hours

  • When is the Magic Garden open?

    The open hours are:

    • 30 March to 27 October 2018- 10:00 to 18:00 (last entry 17:15)
    • From 28 October 2018- 10:00 to 16:30 (last entry 15:45)
  • Why is the Magic Garden only open in summer?

    A closure is required for our resident Dragon and mythical beast to enjoy a winter hibernation. During this time our Gardens and Estates team work tirelessly on essential maintenance after a busy season.

  • Will there be closures during the summer?

    We know we will experience a higher number of visitors than normal over key periods such as Easter and the summer holidays.  To help us keep the Magic Garden in the best possible condition we will close for planned maintenance on:

    • 10 September 2018

     

  • Why do you not close the maze?

    Whilst our Maze is a popular too, the features contained do not require the same levels of maintenance as the Magic Garden. As you can appreciate, although children (and adults!) enjoy running around the Maze, the fact it doesn’t include slides, sandpits and towers to climb also means adverse weather has much less of an impact.

Ticketing

  • How much does it cost to visit the Magic Garden and Maze this 2018 season?

    The prices are all available on our Tickets and Prices page. 

    • Please note that Palace ticket holders and valid membership cards holders are not required to purchase tickets for children ages 5 years and under.
    • Magic Garden / Maze combined tickets can only be purchased in person on-site.

    The most cost-effective way for families to enjoy the Magic Garden throughout the year is to upgrade to our family membership scheme, which offers unlimited entry to all of our sites, including the Magic Garden. By issuing tickets to younger children we can also keep a better record of the numbers of people in the garden at any time and hope to manage numbers more effectively.

  • If I only want to visit the maze, do I have to pay for my 3 or 4 year old child?

    No you don’t. Unlike the Magic Garden, it is highly unusual for someone to spend between 90 and 120 minutes in the Maze. If this does happen, our staff will get concerned someone really is lost and they’ll probably come and look for you!

  • 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 – Playing your Part.

    If you and your children have had so much fun you will definitely be coming to see us again, we recommend purchasing an Historic Royal Palaces annual membership. If your children are aged under 5 years, you can purchase either an individual or joint adult membership. If you pay by direct debit, you get 15 months for the price of 12 for your first year of membership and 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.

  • Why aren’t Palace ticket holders required to purchase tickets for children aged 3 and 4 years?

    A Palace ticket enables everyone to enjoy everything the Palace and gardens have to offer. The ticket allows unlimited entry on the day of your visit to all paying areas including the Magic Garden and Maze, and the opportunity to enjoy the daily programme which takes place throughout The Palace. In addition to this, a Palace ticket enables our visitors to enjoy special events such as the Tudor Joust and the BBC Good Food Festival which take place in July and August respectively. We recognise different areas of the whole site appeal to different age groups and our ticketing aims to reflect this.

  • 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.

  • As a member, can I bring guests?

    As a valued member we are more than happy to welcome your guests. Unless members themselves, they will be required to purchase a ticket. Your membership card is not transferable and is a benefit for the named card holder(s) only. Members will be subject to the same entrance policies as palace visitors such as limited dwell time and queuing on busy days. If you have a family membership, please only bring those children who you registered when taking out your membership.

  • 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 currently no education rate available, however adults who form part of the required adult / child ratio in the group are free of charge. Additional adults will be required to purchase a ticket. 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 and must also complete and return a risk assessment prior to any payment being taken, before your planned visit.

Inside the Magic Garden

  • What features does the Magic Garden contain and who are they suitable for?

    The Magic Garden contains a range of play equipment and different experiences from sand and water play, Tiltyard Towers, aerial walkways, slides, climbing frames and magical beast’s lair to an amphitheatre, a regal crown, our resident dragon  and a new fountain plaza area. All of these make our garden exciting and challenging.  We strongly encourage parents and guardians to explore the garden with their children in order to identify the many hiding places and to determine which features they feel comfortable with their children using. We ask that children are supervised at all times.

    The Mount is one of the most popular activities in the Magic Garden is sliding down the mount and is enjoyed by both children and adults alike. This may result in friction burns, a result of the astro-turf slowing the rate of acceleration. To minimise this, we recommend that suitable clothing is worn when sliding down the slopes, to minimise the amount of exposed skin making contact with the astro-turf.

  • 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. Further information on accessibility is available on the website. We kindly ask that when trying to find somewhere to settle down in the shaded areas that the path ways are kept clear at all times.

  • 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 have experienced some hot, dry weather over the last 2 years, there are no additional areas of cover. When trying to find a suitable place to sit in the shade, please do keep the paths clear at all times. 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. This year measures have been put in place to minimise the need to close the slides, but if we do, please remember that this is to ensure the safety of yourself and children.

    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. Please remember to check if your child requires changing regularly. We understand that accidents can happen, however to ensure we have a clean, hygienic area available for everyone’s enjoyment, if your child has an accident, out of consideration for others, please do make the team aware, especially if it results in a feature having to be closed temporarily whilst the area is cleaned.

Entrance procedures and time limits

  • Will I have to queue to get in?

    The Magic Garden does have a limited capacity. This is to ensure those inside can visit safely. If capacity is reached it may be necessary to suspend entry until people inside leave. The Admissions Team will be on hand to advise.  We know children can get bored when queuing however our concern is visitor comfort and enjoyment along with the health and safety of those inside.

  • Will you limit the time we can spend in the Magic Garden?

    At weekends, bank holidays and during school holidays as with previous years, 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 you are welcome to come back later in the day if capacity allows. Remember to explore and enjoy other parts of the site including the maze (included with a Magic Garden / maze ticket) and the Palace and formal gardens (included in the palace ticket and membership).

  • May half-term ( 26 May to 03 June 2018)

    During May half-term, Hampton Court will again host the hugely successful and popular Horrible Histories: The Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians in our East Front Gardens. This is a separate ticketed event. During this week, the Palaces, ground, maze and Magic Garden will be very busy. If we are blessed with good weather, this does mean that waiting time to enter the Magic Garden could be up to an hour and the dwell time limited to up to 90 minutes. Our staff will ensure as many people as possible are able to enjoy the Magic Garden during this busy time, but need to ensure our capacity within the garden is not exceeded. Our prime concern is your enjoyment, health & safety and comfort. During this period re-entry later in the day may not be possible.

  • 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 our team 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. 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?

    Subject to the number of people in the Magic Garden at any one time, where possible we will always endeavour to accommodate those that wish to re-visit later in the day. During peak times when we know that visitor numbers will be high, the ability to re-enter may not always be possible. This particularly applies to the May Half term, public holidays and weekends. 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 and May Half Term 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 15:00.

    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 20 minutes so whilst you may have to wait, you will get in!

    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!

  • When are the school holidays?

    The schools holiday periods vary according to county and status of the school however the periods below are when the Magic Garden could be busier than normal and relate to our local schools – especially if the weather is good. Any unplanned school inset days will also result in the Magic Garden being busier than normal.

    • 26 March to 15 April 2018
    • 07 May 2018
    • 26 May to 03 June 2018
    • 21 July to 02 September 2018
    • 20-28 October 2018
  • 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.

  • My child has a scooter. Can they ride this inside the Magic Garden?

    Scooters can be taken into the Magic Garden but please do not allow your child(ren) to ride their scooter in the Magic Garden. We like to think that with all the exciting features inside, the scooter will not be required until it is time for you 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 2 drinking water fountains. Do bring your own plastic bottle so you can top up and play. The dragon kindly requests 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 which is located next door reached easily.

  • Are we able to picnic in the Magic Garden?

    Anyone who has visited and enjoyed the Magic Garden before will know it gets incredibly busy. The area is designed as a play space and we received complaints from visitors because some areas, especially the amphitheatre area were not able to be enjoyed by their children due to the large number of picnic blankets! If you do wish to picnic please make use of the areas in the wilderness and Tiltyard café.  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, and you can always return to the Magic Garden later in the day! Please be aware that anyone refusing pack away picnic blankets and chairs etc. will be asked to leave. We also kindly ask that you keep all of the pathways clear at all times.

  • 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 you notify a member of staff in the event the facilities require some attention. We kindly ask that you refrain from flushing wipes, sanitary products and nappies and use the bins provided in the toilets. This will prevent blockages occurring, and the facilities being unavailable for use.

  • Are there bins inside the Magic Garden?

    Yes there are. Out of respect for others and at the dragon’s request, we ask that all litter is placed in the bins provided and nappies are disposed of in the nappy bins inside the toilets. This will ensure the cleanliness of the Magic Garden is maintained for everyone’s enjoyment.

  • 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
    • We understand that young children can have accidents if they are unable to reach the toilet facilities in time. Please do make a staff member aware, especially if a feature needs to be closed off.
    • 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.
    • Ask staff for a copy of the new Dragon Rules Leaflet. This year we will be running a competition, with the chance to win an annual family membership
    • Have fun!

    Our 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!

10 top tips from The Dragon

  • Become familiar with the Magic Garden and decide where you would like your children to play.
  • Listen to announcements and adhere to staff advice.
  • Keep your wristband on whilst inside. 
  • Keep the space clean for all by using bins and nappy bins provided.
  • To avoid congestion do not picnic in the Magic Garden and keep all pathways clear.
  • Do not use scooters or play ball games.
  • Do not smoke, vape or consume alcohol.
  • Respect the many plant species and vegetation inside the Magic Garden and in surrounding areas.
  • Do not leave children unaccompanied!
  • Most importantly, have fun!