I attended Longleat on 7th december with my two children & another family costing £140.00. What a disaster. The day was going really well until most of the attractions closed at 5pm when our train wasn't scheduled until 7:30. I feel that was a huge con after having to shell out on a day ticket, couldn't get on an earlier train and then having to hang around the park in the cold with very little to do after 5pm. The children got so bored they repeatedly went on the tea cup rides and then was told in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome on there anymore as they had been on them too many times!! We were then really looking forward to our magical train ride at 7:30pm. We started queuing at 7pm to be faced with utter chaos and mayhem, being informed when we got to the front of the queue by a poor elf that our train was delayed for at least an hour!! Firstly why couldn't Longleat have informed people of this delay either by over the t tannoy/loud speaker or quite simply with a person walking up and down the main square with a bell informing people of the problem? Its not rocket science. We were cold and hungry and after asking the guest services what we were supposed to do for another hour with young children? and that we were cold and hungry, they reluctantly issued some food vouchers. We did not want a refund of the train as we felt this was an easy option and in my opinion the least we & everyone else deserved was a refund of our day ticket too as we are forced to buy a day ticket to experience the santa train. This is not taking into the account the utter disappointment of all the children that day!! I will be emailing management demanding to know why we were not better informed of the delays and in this instance it was a failure on Longleats behalf not to inform guests and therefore we should be entitled to a full refund of our day as Longleat failed to deal with the situation effectively and appropriately when it all went wrong by not informing guests sooner the trains would be massively delayed.
We finally boarded the train at 8:30 and it was not surprisingly empty as everyone had either left or had refunds by this time. We sat on the train for a good 20 minutes in silence just feeling utterly depressed. The elfs did not interact with the children what so ever and the train ride to the grotto was best described as a ghost train and was scary & pitch black for the children. there were no lights or decorations anywhere, it was pitch black!! , eerily silent with out any music or carols being sung. We arrived at the groto and again were not med by any friendly elfs. We just followed the crowds and queued to enter the very disappointing and dismal santa groto, Actually the worst I have been to in 12 years including garden centre grotos that only cost a few quid!! There were 3 elfs just stood around santa and after having been rushed through to the production line on the other side to try and get more money from us for a photo. I couldn't believe the elfs were on full view taking money in front of everyone!! I thought I was mistakeingly in a theme park queue after riding a roller coaster!! The whole groto scene was very poor and very poorly managed with no interaction with the children what so ever apart from a few words from santa. We then hung around another 20 minutes just waiting to go on the train and the ride back was equally as dark, boring and scary for the children. In fact the children had no enthusiasm about the whole expe rience what so ever. I hope Longleat learns form their consistently poor comments this year and stops to think before they rip us off by , charging us lots of money for a very poor and cheap xmas experience. To top it all off we were promised that the restaurant would stay open to accommodate the last guests on the train and we were looking forward to spending our food vouchers for some very hungry and tired children, only to find that there doors were firmly closed (suprise suprise) therefore vouchers were promptly thrown in the bin and a trip to Mcdonalds in Frome was badly needed. Will not be using the xmas experience ever again and cant quite believe how awful it really was!!
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