Family slams winter “blunderland”

AN UPSET mum has described a winter wonderland attraction which received national criticism as an “absolute disaster” that has “ruined the Christmas spirit”.

Melissa Eblet (27), from Bramley, spent £63 on tickets for Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland event at the Yorkshire Event Centre in Harrogate, but was shocked when she arrived at the attraction.

The “winter blunderland” made national headlines after scores of angry parents complained about the attraction, which was later shut down and its owners put into liquidation.

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Melissa, a healthcare assistant bought tickets to the event for daughter Ellie (6) and partner Russell Holyhead (34).

She said: “The website looked really promising and so we booked the tickets on November 20.”

The entrance fee was £5 each, but Melissa paid upfront for tickets to the attractions inside, including a puppet show, a circus, and Santa’s grotto.

The day before the three were due to visit, Melissa saw the “winter blunderland” make national news.

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She said: “I didn’t want to go, I rang my bank to see if I could get a refund and they advised me to go and take pictures to see for myself.

“It was not worth the money at all.”

The family drove the one-and-a-half hour journey to Harrogate on Saturday (13) and arrived at around 10am, but were faced with long queues which meant they missed the circus show.

They were offered another chance to see the show — a performance eight hours later.

Queuing for an hour and a half to see Santa, they missed a puppet show and were left hungry after being told not to bring their own food into the centre, only for the event to run out of food completely.

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The couple paid extra for rides, and were shocked to find the “Frozen screening theatre” that offered a singalong experience was simply a room cornered off with thin material and plastic chairs playing the Disney DVD.

The “magical winter walkway” was filled with unrecognisable shop mannequins.

“Everybody was complaining — the queue to put a complaint in was longer than the queue to get in,” Melissa said.

Security was called to deal with unhappy punters.

“Our house is more Christmassy at home,” said Melissa.

“I booked a day off work to go as well – they’ve taken money of families and left children disheartened. It’s shameful.”

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Laura Davies from Conisbrough was due to attend with her family and is awaiting a refund.

Laura said: “I’m just absolutely disgusted at how an organisation like that could bring so much upset to so many in just a couple of days.

“The company should be ashamed of themselves.”

YNW 2014 Ltd is the registered owner of Yorkshire’s Magical Winterland and the directors of the company are Peter Snee and Jayne Wilkinson.

On Saturday the attraction was shut and a message on its website said it had been closed “with great regret”.

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It added: “We worked very hard to create a family event and have received some positive feedback but also some adverse publicity.

“We plan to refund anyone who bought tickets in advance and can be contacted at [email protected].”

On Tuesday, it was announced the directors had begun liquidation procedures.

A spokeswoman for Walsh Taylor Business and Corporate Recovery Specialists said: “We understand that 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.”

He said relevant creditors would be notified of a creditors’ meeting but it was currently  impossible to determine whether there will be sufficient funds to repay creditors.”