Customers fear for refunds as Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland goes bust

Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents.  Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency
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Customers who paid to go to the doomed Yorkshire Magical Winterland attraction fear they may not get their money back after the firm announced it was going into liquidation.

The Harrogate event closed its doors last week after it was branded a disaster by disappointed visitors.

Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents.  Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Insolvency practitioners working on behalf of the operating company, YNM 2014 Ltd, told The Yorkshire Post it was “impossible” to know at this stage if people owed money would get it back.

The tourist attraction was initially forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents, who despite being promised a winter walk, a Frozen singalong and a chance to feed Santa’s reindeer, were faced with a desolate scene of disappointment. But despite adding extra decorations, it closed for good at the weekend, and said it planned to refund anyone who bought tickets in advance.

Mother-of-one Sue Schmidt, of Wakefield, who paid £26 for tickets to take her four-year-old son Connor to the attraction, said she had very little faith that she would get a refund.

“It looked fantastic on the website, and when it first closed down I was hopeful that it would come back even stronger,” she said.

Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents.  Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

Yorkshires Magical Winterland in Harrogate was forced to close less than a day after opening following a barrage of complaints from disgruntled parents. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency

“We were supposed to go on Monday, but instead I’ve had to pay out again to take my son to another Father Christmas. I can’t imagine I’ll be getting the money back.”

A Facebook group, Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland Forum, contains many posts from disgruntled parents anxious about getting a refund.

A message posted on the Winterland website instructs customers and staff to contact corporate recovery specialists Walsh Taylor, who are assisting in placing the company into voluntary liquidation.

A statement from Walsh Taylor said it understood a number of exhibits for Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland were not delivered on time, “which caused disappointment for visitors and the company and its staff” and which ultimately led to its early closure.

Walsh Taylor is working with credit and debit card companies to determine whether those who have paid via this route can claim a refund on their purchase.

It said: “Our primary objective is to ensure that anybody affected by the situation is contacted to establish if there is any possibility of a return to them as creditors.

“At this stage it is impossible to determine whether there will be sufficient funds to repay creditors.”

It’s not just visitors that have been left out of pocket. Yorkshire Event Centre, where the attraction was based, is owed money.

Managing director Heather Parry said the event was booked in July.

“Everything looked good - they had good ticket sales, good marketing, but it didn’t work,” she said.

“We have ran events here for 21 years and never had this problem before. It’s shocking.”

The fall-out from Yorkshire Magical Winterland’s failure has also affected The Christmas Adventure, at Stockeld Park, Wetherby. It had to put extra staff on at the weekend to take calls from members of the public who believed it was Stockeld Park that had closed, as it markets itself as a Harrogate attraction.

It has offered Winterland ticket holder ten per cent off tickets.

“When it opened we were anxious because it was on our doorstep. It has had an impact, especially with the national press, it is hard to separate the two.” general manager Amy Thornton said.

“We work 365 days a year to make this a success - this ‘pop up’ idea doesn’t work. Years of development go into it.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Trading Standards said it was investigating complaints, “which it continues to receive” about Yorkshire Magical Winterland.

It advised people who have bought tickets to contact Walsh Taylor in the first instance to request a refund.

Creditors of the company should email creditors.ymw@walshtaylor.co.uk, while staff should contact employees.ymw@walshtaylor.co.uk

PIC: PA

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