‘Appalling’ Harrogate winter wonderland forced to close

A Christmas tourist attraction in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following an avalanche of complaints from disgruntled parents.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 12th December 2014, 11:33 am
Editorial image
Editorial image

Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland only opened its doors on Wednesday, but was forced to pack up just 24 hours later due to its “appalling” quality.

Despite promising a winter walk, a Frozen singalong and a chance to feed Santa’s reindeer, excited families were faced with a desolate scene of disappointment after paying £20 per ticket.

Mum-of-one Laura Bamforth, who is also 30-weeks pregnant, from Pontefract, said: “We spent a total of 20 minutes in the building and we were totally appalled with the entire event.

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“The event itself was nothing more than a fairground. The rides was overpriced and the so-called Christmas market was a total of four stalls.

“When leaving the event feeling very let down we told the staff on reception who also was very rude and never tried to apologise.

“I would like a refund for all the money I have spent because the treatment is unacceptable.”

The Yorkshire Magical Winterland, set up at the Great Yorkshire Showground, advertised the event as having “fantastic features” and offered visitors the chance to “focus on losing yourself in our Magical Winterland”.

But the grim reality of the Christmas-themed event was that of rubbish-strewn hallways, poorly-constructed exhibitions and sombre-looking reindeer surrounded by a sprinkling of straw.

Disappointed mum-of-two Leanne Potter said it would take a “miracle” to make the experience worthwhile.

She said: “It was truly awful. The event was clearly just planned to make as much money as possible. They weren’t bothered about the quality of the event.”

The attraction responded to visitor’s complaints by closing down the event, just hours after opening, without giving any warning to people who had pre-booked tickets.

Kat Manson, from Skipton, who booked to take her niece Evie to the event, said: “We’ve had a family ticket booked for a long time for this special event.

“The journey there was full of excitement and wonder, Evie was going meet Santa.

“We checked the website this morning to see what we were going to be doing but there was no mention of any closure. We were all excited.

“We arrived at a near empty car park and a lonely car park attendant ushered us into a car parking space without saying a word.

“We were met at the desk by two female staff who said sorry we are closed.

“They explained that our tickets were valid for the other days but so many people had complained that it was a waste of money that they were closed.

“How were we supposed to explain to a four year old girl that she couldn’t see Santa after all. She was devastated. She thinks Santa didn’t want to see her.”

The closure of the Winterland comes less than a month after a winter attraction designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen also closed after just a day.

The “Magical Journey” attraction in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, shut its doors after complaints about cheap toys, long queues and disappointed children.

Organisers behind Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland this morning said they had closed to allow their design team “to do extra work”.

A message placed on the Winterland’s website explained the attraction is due to open again today, and promised to be “better than ever”.

The note reads: “The design team are currently working to ensure that this event meets the high standards that we expect for our guests.”

At Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland, we have decided to close our doors from 3.00pm today (Thursday).

The design team are currently working to ensure that this event meets the high standards that we expect for our guests.

“All tickets will be valid as per booking when this event will be better than ever.”