An Aussie woman has taken to Facebook to slam a Christmas event she says fails to deliver the ‘winter wonderland’ experience promised.
Images of the Santa’s Winter Village event at Colonnades Shopping Centre in South Australia have gone viral after disappointed attendees shared them on social media.
‘Cheap and tacky’
Ellie, from SA, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she paid almost $60 for herself and her two daughters to attend the event but was shocked to discover photos of the ‘cheap and tacky-looking’ decorations shared on Facebook.
“It’s like they just got everything from Kmart cheap as chips,” she says.
“It looked cheap and tacky compared to the photos they used to promote the event,” she adds.
Ellie was so unimpressed that she decided not to go to the event, and was later given a refund.
On ticket retailer Eventbrite’s site, Santa’s Winter Village is advertised as “a truly unique white Christmas to remember” offering fun activities including an ‘Amazing Maze,’ a Polar Express train ride and an ‘Enchanted Forest’ where kids can meet Santa.
Glossy images show a mother-daughter pair hugging as they ice skate through snow-covered Christmas trees while a Santa reclines fireside in a leather chair reading a book.
The differences between the promotional images and the snaps taken by attendees, however, was ‘disappointing’ for Ellie.
“Seeing the images the event used to promote the Santa’s Winter Village compared to the images of people who attended the event, I’m so disappointed.
“It was never mentioned that it would all be handmade with a mobility scooter for the ‘train’ or a dinosaur-themed jumping castle in a Santa's Winter Village.”
Santa’s Winter Village organiser Lorraine Malone told 7NEWS that the event cost upwards of $100,000 to set up and that now-viral photos of “empty spaces” were a misrepresentation.
She claimed to be the target of online trolls; “I’m sure it’s just the opposition wants to drive us out of this,” she said.
“And it’s succeeding ... people are cancelling their bookings,” she added.
With the event underway and tickets priced at up to $132 for a family of four, Ellie decided to post the photos on Facebook along with a warning.
“Just a warning, don’t buy Santa’s Winter Village tickets,” she wrote.
“Nowhere was it stated it would be a DIY handmade from pallets, lanterns, tinsel, plastic plates and cardboard kind of experience.
“It was supposed to be a winter wonderland [...] Looking at the photos all you see is cheap and tacky Christmas decorations, so very disappointed.”
Unsatisfied attendees also took to Facebook to share their experiences at the event.
“I took my grandson to this and was utterly disappointed by the event we spent around $100 for the night,” wrote one.
“So disappointing! I paid just over $145 to take my kids here on Monday and was heartbroken for them when we arrived. Would have happily paid a gold coin donation to enter then $5 or $6 for the tea cup ride and gold coins for the home made stuff. We didn't go for ice skating, two of my kids are train obsessed and we went for the Polar Express train they advertised,” another added.
Not everyone was unhappy with their visit, however, with one attendee praising its “community spirit”.
“I have taken my son to both The Santa Wonderland at the show grounds and Santa's Village last week. My son actually enjoyed the Village more. The golf and hockey activities he enjoyed,” one pleased attendee wrote.
“Yes it is handmade and run by locals with a lower budget... but it had a community spirit feel. What Christmas should be about. No expectations, no disappointment,” they added.
Ellie decided to try to get a refund but her first attempt via Eventbrite’s phone app was unsuccessful.
“Then I called to try to get a refund but I was told to go through Eventbrite phone app, so I told her that I tried to but it was denied,” Ellie explains.
She says she was hung up on and left without answers once again. She finally got through to Eventbrite who she says are “lodging a complaint/investigation”.
“The [Eventbrite] person I spoke with was very helpful and sympathetic... and he would keep in touch with the investigation,” she says.
Ellie tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she later received notification that she will be refunded.
Santa’s Winter Village organisers and Eventbrite have been contacted for comment.
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