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 had been advertised as being a 'winter wonderland' that featured a huge amount of exciting family events, including 'bustling Christmas markets', 'interactive log cabins', an ice rink, a 'magical tunnel of light', a nativity scene, etc. 50,000 tickets were sold in advance with ticket prices beginning at £25. Over £1.2 million had been made in total.[2][3]

Upon opening, the park received a great deal of infamy in the United Kingdom due to the extremely poor quality of its attractions; the nativity scene was a poorly painted billboard that could be seen across a muddy field, the 'magical tunnel of light' was a line of trees with fairy lights dangling from them, the ice rink had melted due to a faulty generator, the 'log cabins' were empty garden sheds, the Christmas market consisted of only four stalls and required an extra fee to enter, animals were mistreated and tethered in the mud, and Santa's grotto was a very poorly decorated cabin.

Children who had looked forward to the event were reduced to tears, especially when Santa was caught smoking. Violence began flaring up between visitors and workers, including an elf being slapped by a mother who complained about the event, two fathers brawling in the Gingerbread house, Santa being punched in the face by a father who became furious after being told his children were not allowed to sit on Santa's lap despite waiting in a four hour-long line, and a worker dressed up as a snowman walked off in full costume after being verbally abused.[4][5]

After being open for less than one week the park closed and its website was removed. 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.[6]

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.[7]

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. ^ [1]
  6. ^ BBC News - Lapland brothers guilty of misleading customers
  7. ^ Lapland New Forest men's convictions quashed over juror text, BBC News, 26 October 2011