How to Avoid Queues and Fast Track at Jorvik Viking Centre, York

I’d planned to write a review of the much loved Jorvik Viking Centre, which reopened its doors in early April 2017 after the catastrophic flood damage it suffered in late 2015. But, here’s the rub, getting in there wasn’t easy, and as the school holidays approach I think this post, on doing your best to avoid the queues will be much more helpful – anyone with kids knows that usually queuing is not their favourite pastime.

Travelling from Aberdeen we arrived late Friday afternoon and went straight to our accommodation. Tip One, if you can visit late Friday before all the other weekend tourists arrive then do it! This wasn’t an option for us.

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Viking Animatronics – Bring it On!

Totally oblivious and admittedly ignorant to how popular Jorvik might be, we casually ate brunch and rocked up at 10.30am on Saturday morning, along with the rest of the world. We had our fantastic York Pass, offering entry into over thirty attractions and tours, as well as shopping and restaurant offers, but the queue for Jorvik was approximately 45 minutes long. It’s Fast Track queue was virtually empty but I didn’t have a Fast Track ticket. I pitied the parents with little tots in the normal queue and we opted to visit York Castle Museum instead (which is excellent by the way). Tip two, if you are going to visit on a Saturday turn up very early!

We returned on Saturday at 3.30pm thinking we were being cunning but the queue had just got longer. A coach load of tourists with Fast Track passes had created a huge queue in the Fast Track lane. Tip Three, buy a Fast Track pass online for a small additional fee which skips you to the front of the queue. Bear in mind that even with Fast Track you could end up standing behind a busload of other Fast Trackers. Worse, you could get to the front of the normal queue, having waited forty minutes, only for a load of Fast Trackers to gazump you. I’m very British about queuing and I think this would break me. Again, we headed to visit something else – York Minster this time, delightful.

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Jorvik Viking Centre

That Saturday evening I tried to buy Fast Track tickets online using my York Pass and failed miserably. Phoning first thing on Sunday morning I was told that you can’t obtain Fast Track tickets using a York Pass, you’d have to buy brand new tickets. The moths in my wallet didn’t like the sound of that so we did something else, a York Cycling Tour which was fantastic. So Tip Four is bear in mind you can’t combine York Passes with Fast Track and work out your finances accordingly.

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Excavations under a glass floor at the Jorvik Viking Centre

Then … Sunday evening … 5.30pm … we returned to Jorvik. There was one couple, ONE!,  in the normal queue!!!!!!! Nobody in the Fast Track queue. Hallelujah!!!!!!! We sauntered in, using our York Passes, utterly delighted with ourselves. Tip Five, if you can visit late on a Sunday or on a less obviously popular week day period then do it. We almost had the place to ourselves.

The downside was that by 5.30pm on Sunday we were shattered, having walked and explored all day. Tip Six, if you do visit at a slightly anti-social time try not to arrive exhausted, especially with little ones. We spent five minutes examining the archeological excavations in the first room, but for kids and big kids the focus is getting on the carts that drive you round the Viking animatronics so we’d swiftly boarded our ride.

As you journey round the acutely lifelike dummies you hear voiceover through your personal speakers. I’d selected the kids narration which was ideal for mini tourists as a male child narrator explained things simply and clearly. As we ventured from early settler to cobbler, market stall, slave merchant and everyday housing you did get a sense of the sights, sounds and smells of the era. The gentle fifteen minute ride is great fun and educational for all ages and I’m sure most customers would like to go round again and again. Once we’d disembarked we explored a more traditional section of the museum housing artefacts from armour to jewellery. Tip Seven, we spent about 45 minutes in total in the centre, the highlight of which is definitely the fifteen minute ride, so balance out how long you’re prepared to queue with how long you’ll potentially spend inside.

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Artefacts within the Centre

All credit to the Jorvik Centre for being so popular, it’s a problem many attractions would love to face, and people are so excited about the reopening about this iconic York attraction. But if you don’t want to let your mini-Vikings down then it’s something to consider before heading off. Tip Eight is preparing your children (and your partner) for queues in advance, setting their expectations. Perhaps bring some toys, a flask, some snacks, hey go to town with it!

Ultimately I felt I had to see the centre, I couldn’t leave York without visiting Jorvik, in the same way I couldn’t leave Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Of course the difficulty of gaining access altered the experience but I did thoroughly enjoy it once I finally got my go in the karts.

LOWDOWN – We used the YorkPass for our long weekend. One, two or three day passes are available. An adult pass is currently £38 for one day, £50 for two. A child’s pass is £24 for one day, £28 for two. As most attractions welcome under 5’s for free it’s generally a false economy to buy a pass for this age group. The Jorvik Viking Centre also runs a Pastport scheme which includes Fast Track, discover more here.

To find out more click on VisitYork, for a York/Yorkshire adventure take a peak here, and watch the new destination video for inspiration here.

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If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebooktwitterpinterest and instagram at Tots2Travel. Tots2Travel received complimentary passes for review purposes. Vikings always get us stirred up. For any queries or opportunities please email tots2travel@hotmail.com. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.

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22 Comments

  1. Reply

    The Daisy Pages

    May 20, 2017

    This is a really helpful post, pinned for later. I hope we can plan a weekend to York this summer x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 22, 2017

      Delightful city with SO much to do. Hope you schedule time for it.

  2. Reply

    joylovestravel

    May 20, 2017

    Good tips – we’ve visited years ago when it first opened, I fancy returning with our son this time so good to know the tricks to get around too much queuing.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 22, 2017

      It’s proving so popular that some tactics are needed!

  3. Reply

    Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel)

    May 23, 2017

    Useful post – hate long queues, and as I have bad legs long waits can also be painful. Cheers for the tips! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 23, 2017

      The ride inside might work especially well for you as it is a relaxing way to take in history.

  4. Reply

    Jane the Raincity Librarian

    May 23, 2017

    I absolutely can’t handle queue jumping, even when it’s official, so I’d be spluttering with rage if, after a 45 minute wait, a tour bus full of people jumped ahead of me!! Of course, I’m also not particularly patient, so I can’t imagine waiting that long for any attraction – I’ve got the patience and attention span of a toddler! 😉

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 23, 2017

      I’m very British about queuing so I’m glad I simply turned up on Sunday late afternoon and walked in at my leisure. What a difference. Really enjoyed my ride round the animatronics.

  5. Reply

    Anabel Marsh

    May 23, 2017

    Like Joy, I visited this years ago when it first opened and was really impressed – it seemed far ahead of its time. I hadn’t realised it had got so amazingly popular and I’m not sure I would have the patience to queue now.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 23, 2017

      After the floods people are so keen on seeing it. It’s come back fighting fit after the terrible flooding.

  6. Reply

    Alex - My LIfe Long Holiday

    May 23, 2017

    Aw man, this brought back so many memories. Never again do I want to step into the Yorvik Viking Centre in my life – far too many abysmal school trips. And does it still smell weird in there? However, for all your other readers – excellent advice! Great tips and very useful information! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 23, 2017

      I enjoyed it once I got in, and I’d heard about strange smells and was actually looking forward to them as part of the experience but it smelled fine to me. The animatronics were so lifelike. But I couldn’t just write about that and ignore my 3 attempts to get in as it wouldn’t be fair.

  7. Reply

    WanderMum

    May 23, 2017

    Lots of very useful information. I had no idea the Viking Centre was so popular. I’d have done the same as you and rocked up late morning. Not now! Thanks to this post. Not sure my girls would cope with the late afternoon slot so FastTrax it would have to be. Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 23, 2017

      It’s newly opened so hugely popular. Great excitement about it too.

  8. Reply

    Katherine

    May 23, 2017

    This looks like it’d be the perfect place for my significant other. He’s all about vikings etc. I’m glad that it’s really popular as well, it looks and sounds fantastic! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 24, 2017

      He also might enjoy the Saga museum in the Faroes. He’d probably enjoy the Faroes full stop!
      Jorvik had actual excavations under a glass floor which visitors walk over. Another level if he’s also into archaeology.

  9. Reply

    Cultural Wednesday

    May 24, 2017

    Top tips! I have very fond memories of York Castle Museum from when I was a child, do they still have the cobbled Victorian street? #CityTripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      May 24, 2017

      Yes. Isn’t it fantastic? Spent 15 minutes talking with a Victorian haberdashery attendant – but of course!

      • Reply

        Cultural Wednesday

        May 24, 2017

        No attendants in the 70’s but a wonderful place that lingers in my memory

  10. Reply

    Nikki

    June 13, 2017

    That helped a lot thanks

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      June 17, 2017

      So glad to hear it. Very popular place!

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