But a string of what organisers called “teething problems” on the opening day resulted in negative feedback from parents who say the experience was “nothing like the description”. Mrs Claus “missed her bus” while Elsa “got her timing wrong”, the organiser Martin Holland admitted. But he said that “lessons were learned” and the problems have now been sorted out.
One East Hull mother, who paid £38 to take her three children, referred to it as “one of those horror-show walkthroughs” after being greeted by a terrifying Grinch in a trip out that was “faster than a McDonald’s drive-thru”.
“We paid £38 and the experience lasted no longer than a minute,” said the 34-year-old mother-of-three.
“I wasn’t expecting Disneyland magic but after the year we have had it was disappointing.
“It was nothing like the description. Half the characters were missing.
“We drove in and was greeted by The Grinch who to be honest was like the stuff of nightmares and at that point, it felt like we were in one of those horror walk through things.”
Santa was one of a few highlights at the magical Christmas drive-thru
Mr Holland admitted that there were a number of problems on the opening day: “We organised this months ago with the council but we had to stop it and refund the money.
“Obviously, the government allowed drive-thru grottoes to go ahead and we had six days to put it together.
“We didn’t get it one hundred percent right yesterday. Lessons were learned and the problems have been sorted out today.”
Mr Holland also disagreed saying that The Grinch did not look scary and that there was a lot of positive feedback about the character on the opening day.
“I think he was fine,” he said. “He made people laugh.
We have had good comments about him. I told him to not go too scary because normally they will pull up in front of you and pull at your wipers. But, he has been laughing and dancing.”
Marie Embling, who took her two children to the drive-thru, said that it looked more like an “abandoned fair”.
The 47-year-old from Brigg, North Lincolnshire, said: “Don’t get me wrong for £12.99 each I was not expecting the North Pole but I must admit we were left totally disappointed.
“We drove up to the first part that looked nothing less than an abandoned fair.
“Not sure what was meant to be happening in the inflatable grotto but nothing was there.
One mother described the experience as a ‘horror show’
In the globe there was certainly no snowstorm never mind Elsa as promised.
“We briefly saw the Grinch but it was raining so didn’t come out of his house.”
Highlights of the show were meant to include a snow blizzard with Frozen’s princess Elsa, which children were excited to see.
But she was nowhere to be seen for the first few hours of the day.
The East Hull mother continued: “That’s the first area. The Grinch sort of stalks your car for a bit and then you drive to Santa and get your gift bags then go.
“Honestly, the whole thing was faster than a McDonald’s drive-thru.
“That is literally it. The snow globe was not switched on and there was no Elsa as promised which my daughter was excited about.
“Nothing was as described but I will say the Santa was authentic looking. It was fine, I can’t grumble about that.”
Mr Holland told Hull Live that he was unfortunately “let down” on the day after a number of characters failed to turn up.
He said: “Mrs Claus didn’t turn up as she missed her bus and rang to say she couldn’t get here and I had to get someone else into the costume.
“Same with Elsa. She got her timing wrong and came after 3pm. It should have been earlier but apparently one of her kids was ill.
The Grinch at Santa’s Magical Drive Thru Adventure in East Park
“It is the first day. I don’t like these comments but I know from everything I have done in the past that you are not going to please everyone.
“But I take on board everything and I am tweaking it. You are always going to get complaints but I think we are on top of it now. We are back on track.
“There are smiling faces going out and today was one hundred percent better than yesterday.”
Parents also complained that some of the gifts turned out to be faulty.
A letter from Santa inside the bags was “a nice touch” but the Hull mother says the whole experience was a “waste of money”.
She said: “It is sold as a magical experience and after the year everyone has had it sounded the perfect way to have a bit of normality.
“For £12 it is not exactly cheap. A lot of families have been hit hard financially by COVID. I’d hate for anyone else to have the experience we had.
“The last thing anyone needs is to waste money on this experience.”
Mrs Embling says that her children did not experience any of the magic that was promised: “We travelled an hour to see this and I totally get about the magic being for the kids but mine did not experience any magic at all.
“My daughter is heartbroken at missing Elsa. We left feeling totally let down to be honest.”