Lapland New Forest

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Sign for Lapland New Forest in December 2008

Lapland New Forest was a Christmas-themed park that existed for a brief period in December 2008, near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK.[1] The park attracted a great deal of infamy in the United Kingdom in 2008 due to the extremely poor quality of its attractions, which largely consisted of a single billboard depicting the nativity, lights dangling from trees, mistreated animals in chains, a broken ice rink, empty garden sheds (previously described as log cabins by the website) and a very poorly decorated Santa's grotto.

The park had been advertised as being a 'winter wonderland' that featured a huge amount of exciting family events, including 'bustling Christmas markets' and sold over 50,000 advance tickets,[2] with ticket prices beginning at £25. Over £1.2 million had been made in total.[3]

After being open for less than one week the park closed and its website was removed, thousands of angry visitors having attacked workers at the site – including Santa and his elves, one of which was slapped around the face. Children who had looked forward to the event were reduced to tears, especially when Santa was caught smoking.[4] In February 2011, Victor Mears and Henry Mears, the brothers who ran the park, were found guilty of misleading advertising, and were jailed for 13 months each in March 2011.[5]

In October 2011 the pair had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal following revelations that one of the jurors had been texting her fiance during the trial. The fiance had been present in court and the text messages (one of which simply read "guilty") had been seen by other jurors. The Court of Appeal's view was that this made the convictions unsafe. Dorset County Council, which had brought the original prosecution, subsequently indicated that it would not be seeking a retrial as the brothers had already served prison sentences.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Controversial 'Lapland New Forest' Christmas attraction closes - Telegraph
  2. ^ Santa's dead, families with £130 tickets told, as Lapland New Forest shuts - Times Online
  3. ^ Charlie Brooker on the closure of the Lapland New Forest Christmas theme park | Comment is free | The Guardian
  4. ^ Furious parents attack Santa and his elves as tempers fray at Winter 'blunderland' theme park | Mail Online
  5. ^ BBC News - Lapland brothers guilty of misleading customers
  6. ^ Lapland New Forest men's convictions quashed over juror text, BBC News, 26 October 2011