Winter Wonderland cancelled after one day when parents complain about ‘Poundland’ Santa and an ice rink with no ice
Winter Wonderland in Milton Keynes opened to customers yesterdayParents claimed that Father Christmas was too thin and event did not live up to promises‘We would have had more fun on a frozen puddle’, says one customer
Organisers announced today that the event would be cancelled after partner charity withdrew
By Hugo Gye
PUBLISHED: 15:24 GMT, 15 December 2013 | UPDATED: 17:34 GMT, 15 December 2013
A Winter Wonderland event has been forced to shut down early after parents complained that its Santas were too thin and the ice rink did not contain real ice.
The event in Milton Keynes, which opened only yesterday, was advertised as a chance to pet reindeers and huskies, go skating and meet Father Christmas.
But furious customers bombarded the organiser’s Facebook page claiming that they had been misled, and today it was announced that it would close immediately.
A charity which was due to benefit from the proceeds had earlier said that it was withdrawing from the event following the string of complaints.
Disappointment: The ice rink, which apparently did not contain real ice and was made of plastic instead
One mother writing on a blog for the Natal Company said her family had paid ?42 to pre-book tickets to find ‘men dressed in Santa outfits from Poundland’.
‘This was definitely no Wonderland,’ she wrote. ‘It felt like an opportunity to rip off parents who had hoped to have a magical day out with their children.’
Parents paid ?8 per child to enter Santa’s Grotto – but they claim that when they got inside, the workers playing Father Christmas were skinny young men whose beards kept falling off.
Other complaints were that the advertising suggested more than two husky dogs and two reindeer would be at the event and that the ice rink was nothing but a plastic sheet, the BBC reported.
One parent, commenting on the Natal Company blog, said: ‘We would have had more fun on a frozen puddle.’Animals: Two reindeer were present at the event, but they apparently had no antlers
Empty: A pen apparently meant to hold ‘reindeer and huskies’ at the Winter Wonderland event
Skating: The organiser of the event insisted that the rink was never supposed to feature real ice
Another wrote online: ‘My daughter trod in dog poo and was told by one of the events team it was actually reindeer poo.’
Yet another disappointed parent said: ‘I’ve never in my life been to such a poorly organised and falsely advertised event.
‘We had four kids with us who were really excited for the day out, to get there and see a pathetic excuse for a few stalls in a field. It was so bad my four-year-old started crying because she thought we were taking her back!’
Customer Harriet Armes said she was worried that some families would miss out on festive fun due to the poor quality of the event.
‘I can afford to take my daughter to another Santa and await the refund, but many can’t so might not see Santa this year,’ she told MailOnline. ‘For a kid that is so sad – my daughter asked me why Santa didn’t want to see her, and that nearly made me cry.’Cancelled: The Milton Keynes Winter Wonderland closed after just one day, and on the website all the event information was simply crossed out
Promise: But the event did not live up to the impression given on its website, according to parents
The website for the event, which was apparently inspired by the Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park, showed images of traditional festive activity, promising ‘all the magic of the holiday season right here in Milton Keynes’.
But organisers later posted a message online, stating: ‘We regret that this event has been cancelled’, and promising to refund anyone who pre-ordered tickets.
The website is still available, but with all of its promises about the event simply crossed out.
The event, which was free to enter but cost money for most of its attractions, was due to be officially opened this afternoon by local MP Iain Stewart.
The Papworth Trust, a disability charity which had been a partner of the event, said it had decided to withdraw after hearing about the many complaints.Festive? The site of the Winter Wonderland event pictured while the event was going on last night
Packing up: The scene outside the Winter Wonderland area, which included a circus tent
‘As the benefiting charity associated with the Winter Wonderland MK event, we have been concerned to hear about the issues on the opening day,’ a spokesman said.
‘We are sorry to hear about people’s experiences of the day. After consulting with our volunteers and listening to the public’s feedback, we have sadly decided to withdraw our volunteers and our association with the event.’
A spokesman from The Parks Trust, which runs the venue where the event was held, said: ‘We are very sorry to hear that some people have had such a disappointing experience at Winter Wonderland MK.
‘We have been in touch with the organisers Winter Wonderland MK who have advised us that regrettably they have now cancelled this event.
‘Winter Wonderland MK have told us that they will be contacting all the customers on their database to arrange refunds and that people should get in touch with them via their website or by email.
‘We are saddened that Winter Wonderland MK did not meet some customers’ expectations.’Comparison: Some have drawn parallels with Lapland New Forest, pictured, which angered customers with its shoddy offerings such as a few dogs chained to sheds
Letdown: The park was nicknamed ‘Crapland’ for its poor displays and fake animals
Organiser Lorenzo Franco admitted that the Winter Wonderland had suffered ‘teething problems’ as it was the first event that his company had put on.
However, he said that 200 people had already had their money refunded, adding that he had never promised there would be ice in the ice rink.
The event has drawn comparisons to Lapland New Forest, a winter theme park in Hampshire which earned the nickname ‘Crapland’ thanks to its poor-quality attractions.
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