Mum Claims Polar Express Experience Has Turned Her Daughter And Niece Into A 'Non Believer'
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Featured Image Credit: Kennedy
It wouldn't be the festive season without Santa Claus but for one mum, meeting the world's most iconic gift giver was an experience she and her family would rather forget.
Melissa Evans, from Staffordshire, is demanding a refund from Telford Steam Railways' Polar Express experience as she claims their Santa turned her daughter and niece into 'non-believers'.
The 35-year-old shared an image on Facebook along with a scathing review declaring he 'looked nothing like Santa', with his trim figure and short grey beard.
She also accused Telford Steam Railways of 'ripping people off and making a killing on a very shoddy show' after spending £135 on tickets for her partner Adam Evans, 31, her nine-month-old daughter Mylah-Jane, four-year-old step daughter Amelia and seven-year-old niece to attend the 'disappointing' Polar Express train ride.
"There was no character of Santa, there was no 'ho, ho, ho', he literally just walked on and said 'hi' - he didn't interact with the kids," Melissa said.
"He just wasn't in character, there was nothing magical about it.
"As soon as he walked off my seven-year-old said 'that is not Santa'. We had to try and say Santa sends his helpers because he's too busy this time of year to do it himself.
"But she's saying now 'I don't believe it, Santa's not real' because the Santa was that bad. It was horrible.
"The seven-year-old then was telling my four-year-old niece 'Santa's not real', which was really hard because I didn't want to say 'you can't say that because she's only little' because I still want her to believe as well, she's only seven.
The bad Santa experience has sent shockwaves through the family. "My brother said 'I don't know where this has come from' and I said it's probably because the Santa was that bad," Melissa explained.
Her feelings of disappointed escalated when Melissa saw pictures her friends had posted from their own Polar Express experiences. "Some of my friends sent me pictures of the Santa from their Polar Express and it's what you'd expect Santa to look like - the big beard, being chunky and the little round glasses. It was a million miles away from what we got.
"My friends had just come back from the Stoke Polar Express and said how good the Santa was, that he sat with the children and had pictures taken - there was no opportunity for us to do any of that."
The railway advertises the experience as 'an immersive re-creation inspired by the 2004 Polar Express film 'where customers can 'embrace the spirit of Christmas on their wonder-filled trip' and 'take home lasting memories of a magical experience'.
Some parents commented on Melissa's Facebook post in support of her scathing review, saying they too were disappointed after booking the same 'expensive experience' and coming away with children 'sceptical' about Santa.
One parent said: "I'm so glad I'm not the only person to say this! I was mortified!! My 3 year old son was even sceptical and that's saying something!!!"
Another replied: "I felt exactly the same, I've emailed as well. We paid nearly £200 for 4 tickets, feeling ripped off."
Meanwhile others slammed her as 'entitled' and branded her decision to post a photo of the Santa onboard alongside her complaint 'rotten'.
One said: "What a bunch of self-entitled Karen's [whinging] about how Santa should look in their eyes - kids probs had a good time anyway but Karen's p****d off because Santa's beard wasn't the correct length - get a f*****g life."
But Melissa remains firm in her complaint, saying the Santa onboard didn't meet expectations after seeing how 'magical' the character looked in previous years and on other railways' similar services.
Melissa said: "People were saying 'what do you expect, Santa's not real' - we're not stupid but looking back at the pictures from previous years the Santa's look magical.
She launched a formal complaint and is now hoping to receive at least a partial refund.
Telford Steam Railway responded to Melissa's complaint on social media and wrote: "We have strengthened our customer service team and all open enquiries are being dealt with by our volunteers as quickly as possible.
"We thank you for any constructive feedback and we appreciate your patience and will liaise with any dissatisfied customers directly via private message or email."
Telford Steam Railway were contacted for comment.