When booking a Center Parcs holiday there’s a number of additional items you can add to enhance your trip. These include items such as the starter park, activities as well as early access to your lodge, known as early arrival.
Center Parcs early arrival is worth the cost if you’re travelling with young children, or if you’re planning on visiting for the weekend. However, if you love activities and want to save money I’d skip the early arrival costs, I’d explore the resort and take part in some of the activities instead.
While early access to your lodge costs money, early access to the resort doesn’t. So you can park your car in the car park and wander around before going back to drive to your lodge and unload when the time comes.
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What Does Early Arrival At Center Parcs Mean?
Center Parcs early arrival allows you to drive to your lodge to unload your belongings at 2pm rather than at the standard check-in time of 3pm.
All guests are welcome at the resort from midday, whether they have an early arrival pass or not. From this time guests are welcome to wander the village, visit the pool and take part in the many Center Parcs activities.
However, only guests with an early arrival pass will be able to drive to their lodge to unload their belongings at 2pm. Everyone else has to wait until 3pm.
As you might imagine, around 90% of guests wait until 3pm which leads to extensive queues around the village and back beyond the check-in area with guests driving to their lodge, and back from their lodge to the central car park. It certainly adds an additional layer of stress to the trip in some cases.
If you have the early arrival pass you can simply drive to your lodge at 2pm with the other 10% or so of guests who’ve also picked up the pass and are checking in the same day.
As a result, you’ll find there’s little to no queues and if you time the unloading just right you should make it back to the car park before 3pm at which point the general public gain access to the lodges with their cars.
Of course, at this point, you’re all unpacked and ready to start your wonderful holiday at Center Parcs while everyone else is moving at a snail’s pace around the one-way system of the resort desperately trying (and failing) to find their lodge number.
How Much Does Center Parcs Early Arrival Cost?
Early arrival at Center Parcs isn’t cheap. The actual cost often varies depending on the exact resort you’re visiting, lodge you’ve booked and the time of year however it’s often between £20 – £50.
That’s a lot of money for a saving of just one hour, especially considering the already somewhat expensive rates of visiting Center Parcs.
Is Center Parcs Early Arrival Available At All Villages?
Early arrival is available at all Center Parcs villages in England. As far as I’m aware there’s never any blackout dates, nor have I ever seen the ‘pass’ sell out.
It’s, therefore, something you could certainly add onto your booking at a later date, should you decide that it’s going to be a worthwhile investment for your party.
How Do You Book An Early Arrival At Center Parcs?
Booking an early arrival at Center Parcs can be done during the booking process. It’ll be included as one of the selections you can add on-to your booking prior to check out.
However, you can add the cost of an early arrival at Center Parcs on at any time up until around 48 hours prior to your check-in (I assume this is to ensure they have enough accommodation clean and ready to meet the demand, although I’m sure these times could be adjusted in the off-season when the resort doesn’t sell out).
You can do this through the Center Parcs website, logging in using your booking details and adding on and paying for the check-in much like you would an activity (more info on that here).
However, you can also book an early arrival by contacting the Center Parcs team customer service team over the phone. The current phone number is 03448 267723 for all bookings made in the United Kingdom.
You’ll be asked for your booking reference, and will be paying on the phone so be sure to have a payment method ready in advance.
Is Center Parcs Early Arrival Worth It?
Back to the question on hand, is the early arrival at Center Parcs worth the cost. An ultimately, much like I said in the introduction it depends on a number of factors;
- How many people you’re travelling with – can you split it with other members of your party
- Who you’re travelling with – I personally think this is a worthwhile investment if you’ve got kids
- How far you’re travelling – If it’s a 2 hour or more drive, sometimes you just want to get in and pop the kettle on rather than queueing, especially when on holiday.
- Whether you’ve been to Center Parcs before – are you familiar with the check-in process? if not you may want to give yourself the additional time to figure it out.
Personally, I love to travel on a budget and can’t justify the additional cost of early arrival. I’d much rather spend that money on one of the fantastic activities.
For us, it’s a better investment. However, I can just as easily see why many choose to book an early arrival pass to take away the stress of a trip to Center Parcs.
If you don’t book early arrival at Center Parcs, but do have the day off from work and want to make the most of your visit consider turning up at lunchtime and going swimming, after swimming grab a bite to eat and then go back to your car and drive to your lodge a little later (around 6pm) when the majority of folks have checked-in and unpacked.
This way you’ll get the benefit of not having to queue, without the cost of early arrival, while maximising your all-important holiday time.