'Lapland' visit left family 'upset'

PUBLISHED: 13:36 02 December 2008 | UPDATED: 22:41 15 June 2010

AN angry Lyme Regis mother has branded a newly-opened 'winter wonderland' Lapland-style theme park a rip off".

AN angry Lyme Regis mother has branded a newly-opened 'winter wonderland' Lapland-style theme park "a rip off".Emma Young, who took her six-year-old daughter Tabitha there as a birthday treat, is among hundreds of visitors to complain about Lapland New Forest, at Matchams Leisure Park on the Hampshire-Dorset border.Mrs Young paid £90 for her, her mother and Tabitha to enter the park, which she claims was falsely advertised.The park's website showed pictures of snowy scenes, log cabins, with features such as an ice rink and tunnel of light.But Mrs Young said the ice rink was not working, there was no tunnel of light - merely one tree with artificial snow - and other attractions were offered at an added cost.She said: "We put the tickets in a card for Tabitha and said it was from Father Christmas. She was so pleased and she showed all her friends. "But when she got there, and saw how awful it was, she said 'Father Christmas can't like me'. "I now have a very disillusioned six-year-old who believes Santa is a conman."It was meant to be a special day but we all ended up really upset. All my daughter's little dreams have been shattered and we feel completely cheated. I don't want anyone else to go through it."Mrs Young said there was a two hour queue to see Santa - which was apparently on the condition of having a photo taken with him at a cost of £10. She also claims that animal welfare at the park left a lot to be desired.Mrs Young has written a letter of complaint to the organisers, demanding a refund. The park's telephone number goes straight to voicemail and the mobile is on a constant engaged tone. Over 400 people have joined four Facebook groups to protest about the park, with many demanding refunds.Ivan Hancock, of Dorset Trading Standards, said they had had an unprecedented number of complaints and that anyone who bought a ticket should be prepared to be disappointed.Park organiser Henry Mears refuted all allegations and told the BBC he had offered what had been advertised.The Herald was unable to contact him yesterday (Tuesday) morning.Disappointed customers should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 for further advice.

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