A Christmas with Paddington Santa’s Grotto experience at Manchester’s Trafford Centre has been branded a “rip-off” by angry parents. The Hamleys shop installation offers visitors a chance to walk in Paddington pawprints visiting the Brown family home before popping in to see Father Christmas and his festive elves.
Children were invited to meet Father Christmas and take home a present but the experience left some of them “questioning if Santa was real”, according to the Manchester Evening News.
An angry dad told MEN said: “Considering the cost, this is the worst Santa experience I have ever witnessed.
“I am so angry that my kids left feeling rushed, underwhelmed, and questioning if Santa was real.”
The festive experience did fair much better on TripAdvisor where there has been a string of negative reviews, including from Gaz S who said: “Absolutely awful, such a rip off terrible value for money. You basically pay £40 to have a photo that then costs £20. Nothing else to it. Just in and out shocking value for money.”
Elsewhere Natalie wrote: “Honestly the worse [sic] santa experience I’ve ever been to.
“It was disorganised and Santa was not very believable.
“My five-year-old son did not think he was the real Santa and called him an imposter!!
“They just want to get as much money from you as they can. You cannot take your own photos and they charge you £10 per photo.”
“The photos they took were very bad quality. My son’s face was too bright on the photos and you cannot see his facial features and you cannot tell it is him in the photos. So I don’t have a nice photo of my son with santa. Spent a lot of money on a below par experience.”
Also writing on Tripadvisor Jasmine O said: “The toys aren’t age appropriate. All babies and young kids like mine got a book – not wrapped. The book is far too old for them.
“More for age 10+. My autistic son went to look at the other presents he had in the box and santa said naughty naughty. I was not impressed by that.
“Then we rushed out to a gift shop. This was why other kids were crying as they wanted a proper toy from the gift shop. Then the pictures cost £10 each or 2 for £18. Would not recommend.”
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The Trafford Centre said in response that there had only been “a very small number of negative reviews”. They said they have had a “huge amount of positive feedback” including comments in their visitor book and emails from customers.
They added that they had been in touch with the dad who contacted the MEN about his experience to discuss his feedback.
A spokesperson said: “Christmas with Paddington has already welcomed thousands of guests who have all thoroughly enjoyed it. The event is a high-quality experience which has been hand-crafted by our small team and we really do care about all our visitors.
“The vast majority of our guests have been really complimentary about their time with us; meeting Paddington, our amazing elves and the magical moment with Santa. We are excited to welcome many thousands more families before Christmas Eve.”