Last year, we and some friends took our kids to Winter Funland at Event City in Manchester.
We had a really good time and there were loads to do and we queued up and got to see Santa and we left pretty happily.
So we thought we would go again this year.
The wife booked the tickets, which in total were around £140 for four adults and two kids – so it’s not cheap. But, they didn’t have any fast track tickets left for Santa which we were going to buy after spending over an hour queuing last year.
As we made our way to Event City, the traffic was absolutely shocking. Took us about an hour to go a mile and eventually we did not even make it into the car park and ended up parking at the Trafford Centre instead.
Well, this started the day well as it gave the wife something to moan about – having to walk the 100 yards from the Trafford Centre car park to Event City.
After then having a row about how traffic lights work, we meet up with our friends, who had already made it, at Event City ready to have a fun day out.
Where is everything?
There wasn’t much of a queue to get in and we first noticed that Santa’s Grotto was in the entranceway this year, whereas last year it was at the other end of the building. We also noticed that it was much smaller.
We planned to go and queue up for Santa towards the end of the day, in the hope that it might be quieter then, as we couldn’t get the fast track tickets.
There was also no snow blowing around the entrance, again, there was the year before. We didn’t really think much of it and continued to walk through to the main hall.
As we walked in, the first section was completely empty:
We then started noticing that there was nowhere near as much there as the year before. The one side of the hall was just full of (very expensive) food and drink places and even a full-on bar.
There was still the giant condom (snow globe) where you can have your photos taken inside of it and the usual roller coasters like the year before.
We looked around and got a drink as it was absolutely roasting in the main hall. Once I had picked up my jaw from the floor at the cost of a bottle of water, we made our way back round to near the front of the hall where all the hook-a-duck type stalls were.
Our little one took a shine to the water squirting games and it took us ages to get him off it, so at least he was happy doing something there!
After losing three quid because one of them didn’t work, I decided it was time to move on.
After spending another month’s wages on a teddy bear that we could have got for a fiver from Asda, we wondered what to do next. We considered going to the circus, but our little one had a complete meltdown and decided he didn’t want to. More on the circus to come…
After spending about an hour and a half there, we decided to head towards Santa’s Grotto – this was about 5pm and it was supposed to be open until 6:30pm.
As we walked towards the entrance/exit where Santa’s Grotto was now based, there were security guards blocking the exit and it had been cordoned off.
There were a number of angry parents with upset kids asking why on earth it was blocked off. The reply was that Santa’s Grotto had now been closed as the queue for the fast-tracking was too big!
So after all that, the kids didn’t even get to see Santa.
The Lock Down
After being told to sod off by Santa’s security elves, we decided it was crap and time to head to the pub for dinner. We couldn’t get out of the normal exit way as it had been closed off to protect Santa’s Grotto from the “none fast track ticketed parent’s“. So we had to walk around to the side door exits.
As we walked around, there were yet more security guards at these doors. The doors had been locked up and were being guarded so that no one could leave. We were one of the first set of people to get there so we were at the front and as more people tried to get out of the building, the security guards started getting a lot of abuse (mostly from tracksuit wearing scousers).
It turned out that there were kids missing so no one was allowed to leave. I can see why they would have done this, but I’m fairly sure that in the UK, you can’t just lock people up against their will – but as there were missing kids, we’ll gloss over that.
For the next 20 minutes, more and more people started pilling up to the new exit area and the abuse to the security guards increased.
The atmosphere was getting worse and more people were starting to push forward, so we thought it best to just move to the side out of the way.
As we did that, the door flung open and we were able to leave – but instead of being at the front of the hordes, we were at the back. But at least we could finally get out of the place.
However, more drama was to follow…
The Circus Collapse Rumours
Just before we left, we started hearing people talking about the circus and that something had happened there. We then found out that part of the circus seating area had collapsed.
We started to have a look on Twitter, as that is usually the best place to get breaking news and there were people who were in the hall saying that this had actually happened and that the circus had actually collapsed.
That’s when I put a tweet out saying that we were locked in because of the circus collapse and kids missing, tagging the local MEN newspaper to try and get a bite out of them (which I did…).
Hello – do you have a second to talk? 0161 211 2817.— Todd Fitzgerald (@TFitzgeraldMEN) December 14, 2019
We couldn’t really see or hear anything from where we were and there was no Police or Ambulances or anything like that around, so we did not think an awful lot about it and decided that heading to the pub was the best thing to do.
Car Park Escape
As the wife is a lazy cow, I got sent to walk back to the Trafford Centre on my own to get the car and then drive back to Event City to pick them up.
At this point, it was pissing down with rain and freezing cold. Having no coat on, I attempted to run back to the car – clearly, this was going to kill me though due to my incredible unfitness and recently acquired heart condition.
Before I had even got halfway back to the car, my phone started ringing. Bloody hell, I thought, as I then had to try and find my phone in my pockets. I got it out and it’s the wife…
Where are you?The wife – phone call
Where the sodding hell am I?! I’m currently trying to not get run over as I cross 15 lanes of traffic, whilst getting pissed wet through and breathing out of my arse after I attempted to run to speed up the car getting process!
After telling her to bugger off, I finally got back to the car. I got in, fired up the Volvo, got the heater on and headed out of the Trafford Centre car park and towards Event City.
However, the wife and kid were stood right outside the entrance of Event City, so I had to drive pretty much to the back of the massive queue that had now formed, turn around the roundabout and head back towards Event City on the correct side of the road where they were waiting.
Finally showing some sense, the wife drags the four-year-old to the taxi pick up point so that I can pull in, get her in, strap the kid in and get back into the long queue to finally get away from Winter Funland.
Pub Food and the Emergency Services
We finally got to the pub, a new place along the new tram line called Coppice Wood Farm. It was virtually empty, couldn’t believe how quiet it was. But this was great, there was a nice play area for the kids and dinner arrived in no time at all.
Whilst we were eating our dinner, we started to notice loads of Police, Ambulances and Fire Engines all blue lighting at speed towards Event City. There was even a Tactical Response Unit heading that way.
We then started to think that the circus collapse was much worse than we thought…
Press and the Compo Faces
Looking on the internet, it had started to make the local news. Then it started to make the national newspapers. We would have been in that particular session had our little one not had a strop, had his strop saved our lives?
Well, no, not really….
The circus incident had happened around 6ish. But the emergency services were not even called until 7pm. Then I think half of the Manchester emergency services turned up en-masse.
As more stories came out on Twitter and across the local and national papers, only three people had minor injuries, no one went to the hospital and basically, a few chairs had fallen over. Not ideal, but hardly life-threatening.
Here are a few photos of what had actually happened:
However, where there’s blame, there’s a claim!
Suddenly, people started giving interviews to the press. Compo faces were coming out all over the place! I particularly liked this one:
Look at the bloke – he is devastated, he is traumatised. He needs councilling and he now clearly has PTSD. She, however, seems quite happy about it all. They were in the paper telling everyone about their terrible experience.
Scousers were coming out with statements like:
I keep having flashbacks, I am completely traumatised by it all!Scouser seeking compo
Around 8pm, all the emergency services had gone home and that was the end of that. The only side effect of it all was the Winter Funland released a statement saying that it would still be open the following day but the circus would be closed.
We then headed home without further incident.
We will not be returning to Winter Funland in 2020!
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