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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes, so it’s always a shame when a Christmas staple doesn’t live up to expectations.
One mum found this out the hard (and expensive) way when a trip to take her two sons onboard the Polar Express to meet Santa Claus turned out to be particularly disappointing.
Gina Rawlings-Jones said she paid £144 for her sons, Harley, 12, and nine-year-old Jonah to meet Father Christmas on a steam train at Telford Steam Railway in Shropshire.
However, the two were so “traumatised” by Santa’s odd new look, Gina was forced to say Santa’s brother had to fill in for the day.
Gina's children burst out laughing Santa began walking down the carriage to hand out bells like in the 2004 movie, The Polar Express.
The mum said she was mostly taken back by the character's wiry, straight moustache and beard which she told her kids had been straightened.
Gina, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, took to Facebook the following day to tell other parents about her experience, writing: "When you pay £140 to see Santa then have to explain to your child that it must be his brother helping out tonight, as I've heard he straightens his tash.
“Quick thinking mum.”
The post has attracted over 4,400 likes and more than 2,600 comments from amused social media users.
One person said: “Maybe he was being Covid secure, so he couldn’t go to the barbers and maybe Mrs Claus had to stand in as a barber.
“I know my attempts at cutting hair have had some ropey moments.”
Another wrote: “I would have been disappointed with the whole situation as the carriage doesn’t look great either.
“What a rip off.
“Where was this just so I don’t make the mistake for next year?”
Another member of the group said: “That's one creepy Santa.
“I'm traumatised for life now.
“I can't possibly imagine how any of the kids felt when his face met theirs, and at £140 too.
“Literally daylight robbery.”
It appears that Gina's train ride may have been a one-off as another parent posted an image of the Santa that her children met on another Polar Express train ride, complete with bushy beard.
The rest of the one-and-half hour experience was filled with reenactments from the Polar Express.
Speaking about the experience, Gina explained: “We got hot chocolate and cookies, as we went up and down the railway line.
“The actors dressed as cooks and danced up and down the walkway, then Father Christmas arrived and my children burst out laughing.
“I turned around and couldn't believe his moustache.
“We got back to the station and went home £144 poorer.
“It’s the most expensive laugh we've paid for.
“Luckily I've always said 'I wonder if we will see the real-deal Santa tonight, or if it will be a stand-in as he gets busy ' - this eliminates too much disappointment.”
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