Furious parents say 'creepy' drive-thru Santa's grotto gave kids nightmares and demand money back after 3-hour queues
PARENTS have slammed a “shambolic” Santa’s grotto drive-through after many were left queuing for hours.
Ticketholders for the event which opened on Friday in the grounds of Taverham Hall, near Norwich, also claimed “creepy” performers scared kids and organisers handed out “Poundland” gifts.
People took to the event’s Facebook page to flood it with complaints.
Visitor Louise Purdy said: “It was an absolute fiasco from start to finish.”
People said they had queued for up to three hours in rush hour traffic, even though they had bought tickets for a time slot.
Many said they had simply given up waiting and had turned away with tired and disappointed kids.
Kerry Prentice from Norwich, who paid £68 for three tickets, told BBC Radio Norfolk she left after 90 minutes having been told she would probably have to wait a further two hours.
"It was absolutely shocking.
"We wanted something really nice to do as a family, but it was appalling and we've had no response from the organisers."
One parent said: “Would’ve been quicker to get to the North Pole.”
Another added: "Three very grumpy children and four disappointed adults down £110."
Organisers We Make Events had billed the attraction as having “huge amounts of festive magic” and boasted of 700 lighting effects and 3km of fairy lights
But many of those who managed to get in weren’t happy with what was on offer and some demanded a refund.
Tracey Simkins wrote on the Facebook site: "I'm really hoping the organisers pull things together as these children and families visiting would have been looking forward to this for weeks.
"Maybe learn from the comments and pull it out the bag for those left to visit. Refund those who have been so poorly let down!"
One mum posted on a parenting site saying her child had nightmares after a “scary” Scrooge-like character had appeared.
Jenny Yaxley, whose family had waited an hour and 20 minutes to get in, said: “I honestly thought it seemed more Halloween than Christmas.
“A few ‘elves’ were at the bottom of the drive. Then the big finale – the freakiest looking ‘Father Christmas’.
“We had four very disappointed children who had literally been counting down the days.
“Such a shame as they had the potential there to do something amazing. They failed miserably.”
Another visitor added: “To say I’m absolutely gutted is an understatement. I spent £55 plus a fee for a drive-through that sounded amazing, especially after this awful year.
“We waited from 5pm to get in. We didn’t get in until 7pm.
“As for Santa I know the big red man is getting on now but my son told him his name four times and was shouting it through the window and him and his helpers still got it wrong.
“We left with a crying five-year-old who has been waiting for his surprise for two days.”
Louise, who had gone with her her two-year-old and five-year-old nephews and son, aged three, said: "We wanted the sparkle, the magic of Christmas, but I actually started laughing because I couldn't comprehend how rubbish it was.
"The Scrooge guy called us all mutants, said Santa has crashed his sleigh and the presents are in the mud, and there was a man in chains by a tree just staring at the car.
"It was creepy, but was meant to be for little kids.
"The light tunnel at the end wasn't even switched on and the Santa couldn't be less interested."
Courtney Smith, writing on the Facebook page, described the event as an “absolute shambles”.
Marian Hardy said: “The entertainers are very few and very poor. Clearly a few students who aren’t specialising in drama.
“It was awful. My four-year-old was in tears over Scrooge and the last thing she said tonight when I put her to bed was he won’t get me will he? From a child who’s never had a nightmare.”
Another parent said: "The gifts were rubbish, not even wrapped, just in brown paper bags and they were things probably bought in Poundland."
Some comments on the Facebook page were positive.
Jazmin Nelson wrote: “We found it amazing! Thank you to all the staff….
“The elf’s were very enthusiastic, friendly and all lovely. Santa gave the 4 kids a present.
“Wasnt rushed, got a hot chocolate and a cookie for everyone in the car. X”
Ollie George, who is producing the trail for We Make Events, told the Eastern Daily Press: “A lot is happening in Taverham in the run-up to Christmas and we are delighted so many people are visiting.
“Equally we want to avoid traffic issues and so we are asking everyone who visits from Saturday December 19 onwards to take our preferred route.
“This will help speed up entry to the attraction and ensure you can enjoy the festive Drive-Thru experience with minimal delay while also easing traffic flows around the area.”
The Sun Online has contacted the organisers for comment.
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