9 April 2021. Following the death of His Royal Highness, there will be changes to opening hours for the gardens at Hampton Court Palace and Hillsborough Castle. For further information, please read our FAQs page
The Magic Garden will reopen on 31 March, 2021.
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.
Please see our Magic Garden page for the latest opening hours.
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:
No closures planned.
Unfortunately, the Maze remains closed for now.
A visit to the Magic Garden requires a palace admission ticket to ensure we can meet capacity reductions for social distancing guidelines. Palace admission prices are available on our Tickets and Prices page.
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 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 5 years and over you can purchase either a Family 1A membership or a family group 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 5 of our sites and 10% discount at Kew Gardens, which enables you to visit Kew Palace. Please visit the member’s page or speak to a member of staff when you arrive.
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.
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.
In order to speed up your entry and enhance your experience, please do remember to have your valid, signed membership card with you when entering. Not having your card could cause delays as you will need to be re-issued with a temporary ticket, resulting in delayed entry. Thank you for your invaluable support.
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.
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.
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. SEND school are also welcome to book. Please contact [email protected] 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.
Please be aware Rise and Road sessions and tickets are unavailable until further notice.
Rise and Roar sessions are ticketed sessions which run monthly on a Sunday between 09:30 and 11:00 to enable those people that live or care for someone with autism spectrum disorder to enjoy the Magic Garden with some simple measures put in place to aid visitor comfort and enjoyment. Capacity is reduced, hand dryers are switched off, all radio users wear an ear piece and the tannoy is not used. Anyone who has any other sensory needs is also more than welcome to attend, along with their family and/or carer.
Please be aware Rise and Road sessions and tickets are unavailable until further notice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Magic Garden is a large open space with plenty of room to run and play. The water features are the perfect way for your little ones to cool off, but there is minimal shade in the Magic Garden and the queueing area.
When trying to find a suitable place to sit in the shade, please do keep the paths clear at all times. As the surrounding 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.
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.
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!
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.
The Magic Garden does have a limited capacity. We manage this by asking visitors to pre-book timeslots for your admission tickets. This is to ensure those inside can visit safely.
If you or a member of your group experiences sensory overload and has a hidden disability, please make a staff member aware and they will be on hand to assist.
We are having to strictly enforce a maximum stay of 90 minutes for all our visitors, including Members, to the Magic Garden. With such a reduced capacity, it is the fairest way for everyone to get a chance to play and enjoy the area.
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.
By abiding these simple rules, we are able to ensure that as many people as possible are able to experience this unique play area during their visit. Any adult found inside the garden without a wristband will be asked to leave (along with their family), as we will not know how long you have been in the area. This applies to both members and ticket holders.
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 school holidays, 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.
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!
During term time, the Magic Garden is considerably quieter. If you and your children would benefit from visiting outside normal peak times, you will find that visitor numbers are lower and often there is no limit on the amount of time you can spend inside.
This may be particularly beneficial to those who have, or look after someone with sensory needs, who are unable to attend one of our Rise & Roar early morning sessions.
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.
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!
No, unfortunately our drinking fountains and The Café will remain closed for now.
Our café within the Magic Garden remains closed. However, our Tiltyard Café will be open daily for visitors to enjoy before of after their visit to the Magic Garden. There is also a kiosk in the Wilderness serving drinks and ice-creams.
The use of picnic blankets, and setting up picnic tables and chairs is not permitted and if seen, may be eaten by our dragon. This is to ensure that everyone can use the space safely.
The consumption of food or drink on play equipment or in the playground area is banned under current government guidelines.
If you do wish to picnic please make use of the areas in the Wilderness and Tiltyard café. Please be aware that anyone refusing pack away picnic blankets and chairs etc. in the Magic Garden will be asked to leave. We also kindly ask that you keep all of the pathways clear at all times.
Yes. There are a limited number of toilets, including an accessible toilet and baby changing facilities within the Magic Garden itself. 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.
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.
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!