Monday, December 16, 2013

Winter Wonderland with young, thin Santas and plastic ice rink closes after barrage of criticism

A Winter Wonderland event in Milton Keynes has been cancelled on its second day after complaints from visitors. The attraction at Campbell Park, which included paid-for events such as ice skating, opened on Saturday. But its Facebook page was deluged by people angry at what was on offer. Santa's Grotto was said to be staffed by young, thin men and an ice rink was described as "a few plastic sheets".

Wonderland organiser Lorenzo Franco said he was sorry if anyone was "disappointed in any way", adding that it was the firm's "first event". He said: "I am very sorry to disappoint people. It was not my intention. It was meant to be family fun event." Mr Franco claimed he had cancelled the event due to the weather and said those who had bought tickets would have their money refunded. Following a barrage of criticism from parents, the Winter Wonderland MK Facebook page was taken down on Saturday.

Those who had paid £6 to take their children to Santa's Grotto found it was closed for much of the day and, when it did open, the Santas were described as being young, thin men in Santa suits. Grandmother Lesley Keys, from Bedford, took her seven-year-old grandson on Saturday. She had paid in £65 in advance for various attractions including a visit to Santa's Grotto. "When we arrived we were told Santa wouldn't be there until after 4pm. We were told we could walk through the woodland, which turned out to be a tent with some statues," she said.

"The fairground rides were poor and the ice rink was a few plastic sheets. My grandson was very disappointed." One mother writing on a parents' blog site said her family had paid £42 to book tickets only to find "Men dressed in Santa outfits from Poundland that looked nothing like the photos in the adverts. This was definitely no Wonderland." Another mother who had paid £18 for her three children to meet the Santa, said: "Not exactly ‘magical’ and our children asked where the real one was."

There's a photo gallery here.

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