Parents have described a drive-through Santa experience in Hull as “the stuff of nightmares” and “nothing like the description”.
Santa’s Magical Drive Thru Adventure in East Park received the negative feedback after being hit by a string of “teething problems” on opening day.
Dismayed visitors said the experience, which costs £12.99 per child, was over “faster than a McDonald’s drive-thru” and that “half the characters were missing”.
Highlights of the show were meant to include a snow blizzard with Frozen’s princess Elsa, but she was nowhere to be seen for the first few hours of opening day after getting “her timing wrong”.
One mother from East Hull who took her three children called it “disappointing” and said it was like being in “one of those horror walk through things”.
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“We paid £38 and the experience lasted no longer than a minute,” said the 34-year-old.
“I wasn’t expecting Disney Land magic but after the year we have had it was disappointing.
“It was nothing like the description. Half the characters were missing.
“We drove in and were greeted by The Grinch who to be honest was like the stuff of nightmares and at that point it felt like we were in one of those horror walk through things.”
Organiser Martin Holland admitted there had been a number of problems on opening day.
He said: “We organised this months ago with the council but we had to stop it and refund the money.
“Obviously, the government allowed drive-thru grottoes to go ahead and we had six days to put it together.
"We didn't get it 100% right yesterday. Lessons were learnt and the problems have been sorted out today.”
Marie Embling, who took her two kids, said the drive-through looked like an “abandoned fair”.
The 47-year-old from North Lincolnshire said: “Don't get me wrong for £12.99 each I was not expecting the North Pole but I must admit we were left totally disappointed.
“We drove up to the first part that looked nothing less than an abandoned fair.
"Not sure what was meant to be happening in the inflatable grotto but nothing was there.
“In the globe there was certainly no snowstorm, never mind Elsa as promised.
"We briefly saw the Grinch but it was raining so didn't come out of his house.”
Parents also complained that some of the gifts turned out to be faulty.
A letter from Santa inside the bags was “a nice touch” but Embling said the whole experience was a “waste of money”.
She said: “It is sold as a magical experience and after the year everyone has had it sounded the perfect way to have a bit of normality.
“For £12 it is not exactly cheap. A lot of families have been hit hard financially by COVID. I’d hate for anyone else to have the experience we had.”
Holland says he had been "let down" on the day after a number of characters failed to turn up.
He said: "Mrs Claus didn’t turn up as she missed her bus and rang to say she couldn’t get here and I had to get someone else into the costume.
"Same with Elsa. She got her timing wrong and came after 3pm. It should have been earlier but apparently one of her kids was ill.
"But I take on board everything and I am tweaking it. You are always going to get complaints but I think we are on top of it now. We are back on track.
“There are smiling faces going out and today was 100% better than yesterday.”
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