‘Tis the season for overpriced festive-themed events, and one, Britain’s The Magical Journey, has been relaunched days after a flurry of complaints on social media had branded the West Midlands attraction “a disastrous ripoff.” The experience charges up to £22.50 per child and event director Paul Dolan conceded to the Guardian that there had been some mistakes made in rolling out the event. “We had four and a half weeks of horrendous weather and we weren’t ready. We made a mistake,” he said. Dolan and his team of “technical elves” shut down the park for three days to make some hasty changes.
Complaints about the event included the cost, elves “who sat around smoking”, reindeer biting children, and a swear-happy Santa. One parent wrote on the attraction’s Facebook page “No atmosphere, songs or Christmas spirit. Builders walking around with cigarettes and tools drilling whilst we are standing there. My boys reviewed unwrapped rubbish presents, a Frisby and a wood giraffe for babies?” Staff have been busy revamping and trying to bust a few misconceptions. “A myth-busting section of its Facebook page is a bit of a festive treat,” writes the Guardian. “It admits, for instance, that Santa had not been ‘briefed properly’ about how to hand out presents. It accepts that the train, designed to whisk visitors around the winter wonderland, broke down but said there was only a brief delay. ‘Some elves came to the rescue and pushed it while singing songs.’ But were elves really seen smoking? Maybe. The park admits it is possible that from the road someone may have seen through the trees to the staff rest area. More screening has been erected and extra instructions given to staff.” Designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has had a hand in putting together the Christmas experience at The Belfry Hotel. And the Guardian’s verdict? “To the adult eye there were still a few flaws. The paths were a bit muddy rather than crisp and even. The fake snow in the enchanted forest ran out a few trees in. The train did not so much chug as jerk through the woodland.” As to the sobriety of Father Christmas, Snowflake the elf commented “He may have a tipple on Christmas Eve. But never in working hours.”