Bangor winter blunder-land closes after just one day - irate parents seek refunds for ‘terrible’ festive event
Irate parents seek refunds for ‘terrible’ festive event
A Co Down Christmas "wonderland" has been shut down after a disastrous first day provoked a furious backlash from angry customers.
Instead of queuing up to see Santa Claus at the Winter Wonderland at the Clandeboye Estate in Bangor, outraged parents were lining up for refunds following a shocking experience on Saturday.
Rhonda Elliott (43) and her husband William (49) had been looking forward to a magical day out with their four-year-old daughter Katie since June.
"It might have been called a winter wonderland, but it was only winter - the place was filthy and the atmosphere was terrible," Mrs Elliott said. The family group, which included her sister and young nephew, were very excited about meeting Santa at 4pm.
But the day quickly descended into chaos.
"We ended up having to stand in a huge line full of prams with kids getting upset and an elf trying to push us further along even though there was nowhere to go - it was terrible," she claimed. The Bangor woman said the "horrendous situation" only got worse when they finally met Santa, who the organiser previously claimed had a real beard.
"It was shockingly bad, his beard didn't have a hole in it for his mouth so he had to pull it down to speak. Horrified kids were shouting: 'He isn't real'," she said.
"The decorations were terrible, a string of fairy lights looked like they had been blue-tacked to the wall and a banner behind Santa's chair kept falling down. Parents were holding it up for the photos.
"There was a 5ft Christmas tree which looked like someone had just thrown gold glitter at it and the smell was stinking."
Mrs Elliott slammed the organiser for failing to deliver on what they had promised. "In the end it was just an elf chucking terrible presents at the kids just to get rid of them, they (the gifts) weren't even age-appropriate," she said.
Winter Wonderland NI, which leased the Clandeboye Estate in order to host the event, did not respond to questions last night as customers took to social media to complain about a range of issues including an 'ice rink' that was made of plastic.
Mrs Elliott said even the bouncy castle left customers deflated. "It was filthy, the floor in the cinema room was disgusting and there was only one face-painter - everyone was losing the bap," she said.
The Belfast Telegraph made numerous attempts to contact the organiser but they did not comment. However, in a statement on the Winter Wonderland NI website it issued an apology and acknowledged the planned week-long event fell "way short" of expectations.
It has been cancelled from today.
"Whilst we understand that this will be greatly disappointing to many we feel we cannot recover from the negative publicity and it is clear that we have hosted an event which has not met the high standards we had aimed to deliver," it said.
The organiser vowed to refund anyone who had planned to attend the event between December 18-23 within 28 days.
Clandeboye Estate and said it was "extremely disappointed" with the externally-organised event.