PARENTS have been left fuming over a “rip-off” Christmas grotto which charged £15 for just one kid to enter.
It's the first time a Christmas with Paddington Santa's Grotto experience has been set up in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, although many visitors have been left less than impressed with it.
The Paddington themed grotto is based inside the former Hamleys shop situated in the centre.
As part of the experience, people paying the entrance fee get to walk through a Christmassy recreation of the London street where the famous bear lives with the Brown family, before going into their home to meet Santa’s elves along with Paddington himself.
Families then get to individually meet Father Christmas and the children are given a gift.
However, parents have slammed the festive experience which charges £15 for children and £5 for adults – and if they want an official photo that costs an extra £10.
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Visitors can take as many pictures as they like in the lobby where there is a Paddington snow globe as well as inside the snowy London street.
However, once they are inside the main grotto, photos with Paddington and Santa are not allowed to be taken.
One dad who took his three kids along, complained about being “noticeably rushed” through the experience.
He told the Manchester Evening News: "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."
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That comment has been echoed in comments posted on Tripadvisor, where it has notched up several negative reviews.
One disgruntled commentator wrote: “After travelling 3 hours to get here to meet Paddington and so much looking forward to it, what a disappointment £35 for 15 mins of being rushed.
“We really expected much more than this rushed for photos two clicks and on to the next family, then to meet Santa I thought it was a joke when I saw him quick few mins with Santa again quick photo, and then given a gift that wasn’t wrapped off to the nxt room to come to out to the main area to collect your photos.
“Absolute rubbish quality £18 for two pictures. Don’t waste your money it’s really that bad. Terrible.”
Another posted: “Honestly the worst 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 sons 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.
“Please look for somewhere else to take your children.”
A third added: “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.”
Parents have also hit out at the experience with Santa himself inside the grotto, where all children get the same present – a Paddington movie book – which is handed to the child unwrapped.
A mum wrote on the Trafford Centre’s Facebook page: "Got a present from Santa whose beard was falling off and they couldn't even be bothered to wrap the present.
“My five-year-old got a book that he will probably be able to read when he's about 10 shocking experience."
Another wrote on Tripadvisor: "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."
However, there were also plenty of positive reviews.
One grandma said: "Worth every penny, my grandson was in awe of Paddington bit wary of Father Christmas as he's only 2 but soon came around."
Another commentator wrote: "Paddington was so amazing and Santa even better, the team are faultless and really friendly and patient good value for money the gift shop is well prices and well stocked just a shame my grandson was a little nervous."
The Trafford Centre said in response that there had only been "a very small number of negative reviews".
It added they have had a "huge amount of positive feedback" including comments in their visitor book and emails from customers.
A spokesperson for the Trafford Centre 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.
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"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.”
The Sun Online has contacted the Trafford Centre for comment.
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