A Fortnite festival for young gamers has been slammed by parents after some were charged an extra £40 – only to find long queues and ‘shambolic’ attractions.
Fortnite Live near Norwich was billed as the ‘Fortnite event of the year’ with thousands of youngsters looking forward to being immersed in a world based on their favourite game.
Parents paid between £13.52 and £22.14 for advanced tickets, but had to shell out £20 extra for activities like a ‘cave experience’ that turned out to be a tunnel running through a trailer with a slide, according to one disgruntled parent.
Parents have hit out at a Fortnite Live event near Norwich that charged an extra £20 for a ‘caving experience’ that was ‘basically a truck with a bit of plastic on the roof and a slide’
There were 2,8000 festival goers at Saturday’s event, but the climbing wall hired by organisers only had room for three people at a time.
Youngsters hoping to try out an automatic BB gun and fire it at targets had to wait for hours as there was only space for two at a time.
Parents claimed they had to queue as long as an hour to get into the festival at the Norfolk showground and another hour to get wristbands for additional activities.
Organisers finally agreed to issue refunds after they were swamped with complaints about the ‘rip off’ day – but that took another hour, parents claimed.
It was also alleged that even the refund queue was about 70 yards long.
Speaking whilst waiting in the queue for a refund, Philip Hinchliffe, from Norwich, who brought his 11-year-old son to the event, said: ‘He’s out in the field playing with sticks, he’s having more fun doing that than he did at this event.’
Justine Petersen, who queued for 90 minutes to get in with her husband and her nine-year-old son Richard, said it was ‘like the episode of Father Ted when the fair comes to Craggy Island’.
The event in Norfolk featured a climbing wall that could only fit three climbers at a time despite 2,800 people attending
Parents paid between £13.52 and £22.14 for advanced tickets, but had to shell out £20 extra for activities like a ‘cave experience’ that turned out to be a tunnel through a trailer with a slide
She added: ‘Richard was miserable, he was really upset. As a parent it’s quite hard to pick them up from that.
‘There were children upset everywhere. There was not a single person who seemed to be happy about what they saw.
‘It was horrendous. It seems they’re not taking any responsibility for it. It’s just depressing really.
‘I felt like they were just trying to capitalise on something that was popular and just scam people.’
The attractions that did not require a wristband included a bouncy castle, basketball shooting and a flossing dance competition on a small stage.
One disgruntled mother said: ‘It should have been a fun day out – but the whole event was a shambles. My kids spent most of the day in queues.
‘Fortnite is all about hunting people down and killing them. I felt like doing that to the people who organised it.
‘There would have been hell to pay if they had not agreed to pay refunds to people who bought wristbands.’
One woman also said she was aghast to find merchandise that appeared to trivialise drug use on sale at the children’s event
The event was dubbed on its Eventbrite listing as ‘the ultimate Fortnite Battle Royale!’ where children could ‘floss til you drop.’
Organisers yesterday blamed staff not showing up on the apparent failure of the event and followed it up with a statement on Facebook: ‘Wow what a day. So many happy children have enjoyed a great day at Fortnite Live Norwich today.’
The statement continued: ‘However, these happy visitors have been accompanied by a mixed bag of feedback with the queues wearing thin on some visitor’s patience and we sincerely apologise to those visitors who gave feedback regarding the queues.’
It was inundated with comments from unhappy customers who said that the statement was an attempt to embellish the truth.
Steph Randall said: ‘I’d have had so much more respect if you’d have come out and apologised not this dribble.’
One woman also said she was aghast to find merchandise that appeared to trivialise drug use on sale at the children’s event.
Joanne Robinson shared an image on the event Facebook page of a flat cap with a marijuana leaf on it and a beanie hat with the message ‘cocaine and caviar’ sewed onto it.
She said both were on sale at a stall near the entrance to the event.
Ingrid Villalba added: ‘My daughter came home asking what cocaine was after seeing those hats.’
Claire Watkins with husband Paul and son Connor, nine, who were left disappointed at the Fortnite event in Norwich today
Claire Harris, of Norfolk is pictured with her son Charlie at the event, which she said was ‘uninspiring’
IT Manager Elliot Drew, 48, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, is pictured with his son Alfie, 12. He said the event was a ‘bit of a joke’
Facebook user Lula Phillips posted: ‘My husband and son have just left, I can’t believe you have charged people for that absolutely shocking non event..’
Sharmagne Spencer also posted on the event’s Facebook page, saying: ‘Avoid! Avoid! Really not worth it, my boys were miserable, queuing is shocking for everything.’
Adrian Vivian added: ‘What a rip off!! Badly organised, was marketed very well but didn’t deliver what was expected. Very, very disappointed!!’
Youngsters are pictured at computer screens playing Fortnite en masse in Norwich
Visitors took to social media to complain about the ‘shambolic’ two-day event
Oliver Phillips of Sudbury, Suffolk, said he and his son Theo, 10, were at the front of the queue when the event opened at 10am, by which time early-bird ticket holders were already leaving.
He said: ‘The attractions were pretty rubbish. It was the sort of thing you see at a school fete.’
He added that the cave experience was ‘a trailer, no bigger than a car, with a tunnel through it’.
Andrea Suldisho, 47, who bought tickets last October as a birthday present for son Zach, 12, and Christmas gift for daughter Zara, seven, said: ‘There was nowhere near enough activities for the amount of people here.
‘What they do have was not of a standard that you would expect. We had to queue an hour for everything.
‘But when we got to the front of the Laser Tag queue, the man told us he had to reprogramme all the guns so there was another 20 minute wait. It was very poorly organised.
‘We drove 110 miles here and I paid £60 for a hotel to stay for both days – but we will not bother with the second day. It is a shame because the kids were so excited about it.’
Parents claimed they had to queue as long as an hour to get into the festival at the Norfolk showground
Lucy Walters, who was with son Harvey, 11, added: ‘It was pretty rubbish. We queued and queued and queued for nothing. We bought wristbands but there was nothing there.’
Toni Nobbs, 34, of Norwich who was with her sister Megan, 12, and son Reece, 11, said: ‘We queued for two hours just to get in and buy our wristbands.
‘There were computers to play Fortnite on, but there was a one hour wait to get on one and then we only got 15 minutes on one.
‘Some people in the queue were absolutely furious.’
IT Manager Elliot Drew, 48, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, who was with son Alfie, 12 and nephew Louie Cox, 12, said: ‘By the time we got in, people were saying they had seen enough and were leaving.
‘The caving experience was basically a truck with a bit of plastic on the roof and a slide. It was a bit of a joke.
Parents are pictured queuing for refunds, which many claim took another hour
Shaun Lord, owner of Exciting Events that organised the festival (parents pictured queuing) admitted there were problems with queues as eight of his 19 staff had not turned up on Saturday
‘There were supposed to be go karts, but they were just low speed electric ones.’
Claire Harris of Stalham, Norfolk, who was with son Charlie, 11, said: ‘They could have catered for more people with the activities.
‘Why couldn’t they have had two climbing walls instead of one? Also they should have eight archery targets instead of four.
‘It was all so uninspiring that I felt a little sorry for the staff who were getting a lot of stick.’
Shaun Lord, owner of Exciting Events that organised the festival, admitted there were problems with queues as eight of his 19 staff had not turned up on Saturday.
He admitted he gave a refund to everyone who asked for one, but he refused to say how many people that was, saying: ‘We are dealing with people on an individual basis.’
But Mr Lord who is based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, added: ‘There are a lot of people who have told me they have had a fantastic time and their kids have thoroughly enjoyed it.
‘We will take everybody’s feedback into consideration and we will act on it..’
His company is planning further Fortnite events in Spalding and Newark, Nottinghamshire.
WHAT IS FORTNITE?
Fortnite is a game that originally launched as a disk back in July 2017 and was then turned into a free-to-download game by its developer, Epic Games, in September.
There are three forms of the game: ‘Battle Royale’, ‘Save The World’ and ‘Playground’.
Save the world is the original form of the game and is currently not available to play as part of the free-to-download game, instead it comes as part of a £30 ($40) extra.
It is a co-op mode with a story that’s playable solo or online with friends.
Fortnite is a battle royale-style survival shooter where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island
Users compete in teams of up to three to complete a variety of missions.
It is rumoured that the game will be added to the free-to-play version of the game in the future.
Whilst Save The World may be the original version of the game, its sister mode is by far the most popular.
Battle Royale is a game of survival where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island.
Each game, or ‘match’ as each competition is known, starts with 100 players.
The aim of the game is to be the last one standing. Users can form allegiances and play in small groups.
To enable this and the interactive experience, the game allows completely open communication between players.
Inspired by the Hunger Games novels and films, gamers search for weapons to help them survive.
Armed with quirky weapons and amusing dances, the game has swept across the gaming world, with children flocking to it.
While there is no exact figure on how many children play Fortnite, the game has so far pulled in an audience of over 125 million players.
Playground is the latest addition to the game and is a consequence free mode with more loot and unlimited respawning to allow players to get creative.
It involved groups of up to four people working as a team and the players can hone their skills as the practise in advance of entering Battle Royale where they will face better players.