IT WAS a Christmas scene that not even the Grinch would attempt to steal.
Rubbish-strewn hallways, a vast warehouse and “creepy” models at Yorkshire Magical Winterland in Harrogate drew so many complaints that it was forced to shut its doors in attempt to inject some magic into the festive attraction.
The attraction, at the Yorkshire Events Centre, re-opened today after owners made “a number of changes” after carefully reviewing feedback, a statement on the attraction’s Facebook page said.
Visitors had claimed the “truly awful” experience was “nothing more than a fairground” despite promises of a winter walk, a Frozen singalong and a chance to feed Santa’s reindeer.
It closed on Thursday afternoon less than a day after opening after a barrage of complaints from parents, who said the ticket price, £20 for a family of five, was overblown.
Mother-of-one Laura Bamforth, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, who visited before it closed, said: “We spent a total of 20 minutes in the building and we were totally appalled with the entire event.
“It 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.”
Despite more decorations being added overnight, visitors to the Magical Winterland yesterday remained disappointed. Yesterday staff inside the attraction, dressed as elves, tried their best to raise Christmas cheer, by encouraging children to throw snowballs made from white paper, and the constant sound of Christmas tunes attempted to get everyone in the festive spirit.
But the fairground rides, sparse Christmas market and a theatre weren’t enough to please some visitors. A pair of reindeer with a small heap of hay for warmth waited in one corner of the warehouse, but a three-hour wait to see Father Christmas put some families off.
Richard and Danielle Taylor, both 34, who brought their son Jacob, two, from Sheffield, said they would be making a complaint and asking for a refund following the visit.
Mrs Taylor, an environmental consultant, said: “We read about this place on the Internet and the website was fantastic, but it’s been terrible.
“It’s expensive, we paid £18 to get in and then as soon as we got through the door we were being asked for extras.
“We were promised donkey rides and live music but there’s been none of that.
“We didn’t get to see Santa because we didn’t want to wait. It’s been a complete disappointment for all of us.”
Mother-of-one Suzie Smith, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, who brought her daughter Heidi, two, to the attraction, said: “I had a vision in my head of a really magical place for kids to come before Christmas but to be honest it’s just a bit depressing.
“There’s nowhere near as much stuff here as they claim on the website and what is here is a let down. It’s very, very sparse and I feel sorry for the staff and stallholders who are having to deal with it being so awful.”
Meanwhile mother-of-one Becky Numm, 31, from Harrogate, said: “I get the impression that the staff are being a bit more enthusiastic today to make up for how bad it is. I came thinking it would be great but my expectations were clearly too high.
“The area is too big and they haven’t been able to fill it. It’s been advertised as a magical place to come and it just isn’t.
“However it has put a smile on my daughter’s face which is a relief given how much it has cost me.”
A statement posted on the attraction’s Facebook page this afternoon said: “We would like to kindly thank all guest that have been supportive to us over these issues and hope everyone attending this event from this point forward has a fantastic time.”