A Christmas wonderland attraction has been branded a ‘hellhole’ by furious parents who said the ‘muddy disaster’ resembled a ‘rubble filled building site.’
Visitors to Reindeer Lodge in Leeswood, near Mold, Flintshire, claimed they had to walk through boggy fields, queue for ages to see Santa in his ‘grotty’ grotto alongside ‘sleeping’ reindeer with ‘grumpy’ elves.
Scores of angry mothers and fathers slated the event on social media, uploading photographs of the site and blasting the ‘rip off’ ticket prices, which cost nearly £16 per child – rising to £19 on December 22.
Flintshire County Council have now launched an investigation after it said in a statement that it had received a ‘number of concerns’ about the attraction.
One parent wrote: ‘Just back from Reindeer Lodge for anybody heading there be prepared it is 100% not ready for the public, muddy disaster with dangerously uneven unfinished grounds.
Scores of angry mothers and fathers slated the event on social media, uploading photographs of the site showing muddy fields with turf rolled up
Another view of the site, which many said was ‘unfinished’ and resembled a building site
‘Sadly the experience bears no resemblance to the Christmas Wonderland we were expecting. Santa was realistic until he had to hold his stick on beard on his face with his hand as it was falling off.
Another wrote: ‘It’s a Glorified construction site.
‘We paid £168 for a family Christmas wonderland experience which was nothing like the advertisement.
‘Santa’s grotto was a grotty half decorated room, no sack, no tree, no lights, just presents stacked against the walls – so disappointing.
‘There are no redeeming features and nothing to recommend this ‘attraction’
The attraction’s website boasts of ‘enchanted woodland walks’ and an ‘amazing Santa’s grotto’
Other pictures showed building rubbish piled up on top of mounds of dirt
This images shows rubble and electrical cables lying on the floor
Parents told how they had to walk through muddy fields around the site to see the attraction
Another mother uploaded a series of photographs showing muddy fields and piles of building waste littering the site.
She wrote: ‘Yesterday we spent 3 hours in absolute hell.’
She continued: ‘Marketed as the fabulous Santa experience with an Elf Show, Meet Santa, opportunity to feed herd of beautiful reindeer and picture opportunity on a magical sleigh.
‘In reality what we got, was a muddy, rubble filled building site on a very steep hill.’
Just some of the reaction on social media to the Reindeer Lodge attraction
She added that at the end of the day her family walked along the ‘beautiful woodland path’ in a hope of passing the ‘ beautiful herd of reindeer’ and ‘magical sleigh’.
‘Translation: very steep gravel stone path, past four very bored reindeer taking a nap, and an empty sleigh inside a shed with a grumpy ‘elf’ holding a reluctant reindeer next to it. Did I already mention, no decorations anywhere?!’
Others targeted their complaints at the Santa’s grotto, saying he was sat in a ‘blank’ room with no decorations – and were then charged £7 to take a picture.
Many parents defended the attraction, insisting their children enjoyed the experience. Pictured is a young boy coming face to face with a reindeer, on the venue’s website
Reindeer Lodge’s elves, reindeer and Father Christmas, as seen on the attraction’s website
However, other parents defended the attraction, insisting their children enjoyed the experience.
One father wrote: ‘We went yesterday and the kids loved it (which is what it’s about) yes there’s areas that need work, but you as a parent make it for the kids.
‘If you’re constantly moaning then they pick up on that.
‘I don’t get what you were expecting.’
A message on Reindeer Lodge’s website calls it ‘one of the area’s best Santa’s Grotto’s’.
It adds: ‘Set in almost 50-acres of stunning countryside complete with hills, lakes, fresh water streams, woodland and grazing paddocks, the Reindeer Lodge offers the perfect home for our adorable reindeer herd and an unforgettable festive experience for visitors.
‘Hidden away in our enchanted lakeside woodland you can See and Feed our beautiful reindeer herd, watch our fun packed Elf Stage Show, meet Father Christmas in our all new Funtastic Grotto, enjoy fairground and donkey rides and attractions along with lots of great family photo opportunities with reindeer and sleighs, elves and the big man himself.
Lapland may be closer than you think at the Reindeer Lodge this Christmas.’
A spokesman for Flintshire County Council said: ‘Officers from Flintshire County Council’s Public Protection Team are currently looking into a number of concerns they have received about Reindeer Lodge.’
Ed, partner of the owner of Reindeer Lodge, said: ‘I can understand some of the frustration but a lot of parents and kids were very happy over the weekend.
‘We had 14 complaints and more than 4,000 visitors and I think a lot of the issues were down to the road into the attraction which was perfectly nice on Thursday.
‘Then it was dug up and turned into a mud track, the turf was all removed and just left the soil.
‘With the rain we have been having and the cars going past it turned it turned into a muddy mess, and anyone walking down there would be unhappy.
‘I can fully understand that, but we are doing everything to ensure it will be back to the nice road it was before the works took place.
Ed added they are ‘constantly improving’ the attraction to make sure future customers are happy with it.
‘I know that we can do better and we are continually to improve it.
‘We feel like some of the images going around on social media give an unfair portrayal of the experience people have had.
‘Apart from the road, the rest of the experience people have had over shone it, and the kids who have come have loved it.’
He added one of the images of the building site is not actually part of the attraction but on a different part of the site.
‘It’s an outstanding looking attraction, there are a few bits we could have done better, but its a small proportion of the overall site,’ he said.