A mum has criticised a theme park for turning her family’s holiday into a ‘nightmare’ because it was overcrowded during half-term.
Michelle Keeton, 46, and her husband took their two sons, aged eight and seven, and their grandma to Flamingo Land in Yorkshire last week.
They have visited the theme park annually for the last eight years, but this year they claim they were forced to ‘barge through crowds’ and queue for hours to get onto the rides.
She feared measures for coronavirus protection were also not good enough.
The family booked their £135 tickets for 10am on Wednesday – the first available time slot – hoping to beat the half-term crowds.
‘We thought we’d be one of the first people on the park and would be able to blast through the rides before it got really busy,’ Mrs Keeton said.
But the theme park was apparently already packed by 10am because it had opened an hour earlier for customers staying at its resort.
‘[But] looking at the queues from 10am just to get through to the place we thought: “How is this limited numbers?”’
She said her husband and son got into the queue for Hero, a rollercoaster, at 10.10am and had to queue until 12.30pm.
It turned out that the theme park had opened at 9am for people who were staying in the theme park resort.
‘If they’d have put a clause on their website telling people, they’d have covered themselves,’ Mrs Keeton added.
‘I’m a marketing and customer service manager so I know what I’m talking about. You don’t expect two and a half hour queues for rides at that time.’
Mrs Keeton’s mum has disabilities so the family had ‘disabled bands’ which allowed them to queue in priority entry lines.
But the park had reportedly set this queue up at the exit of each ride, meaning the whole group had to ‘barge through’ crowds ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.
Mrs Keeton also claims Flamingo Land did little to protect its customers from coronavirus.
She said: ‘Nothing was ever wiped down and I didn’t see anyone sanitise anything.
‘You can understand why the queues were so long if people were wiping down or sanitising, but at no point did I see anyone with cloths or wiping anything down.
‘They put the bars down and you have to touch the bars and they were not doing anything. It was really becoming a bit of a nightmare, I started talking to other people and they were saying the same thing.’
She further said people couldn’t even clean their hands, as the park’s sanitising stations were all empty by the time the family arrived.
She said: ‘It wasn’t a family day out in any way shape or form, because me and my husband just spent the day on the phone to each other because we were taking the boys on the rides separately to try and beat the queues.
‘For us to come to Flamingo Land for the day would be a six-hour round trip, that’s a lot for my children and also me driving just for one day. I feel like in the end they just fobbed us off.
‘I thank god we were local at the time, because when we finally left we went straight to a local pub and had a couple of beers, started to chill out and then went straight back to the lodge and had a takeaway.
‘But there were people I’d spoken to while we were there who had spent four hours trying to get there and then the kids had been on two or three rides maximum.
‘It’s just not fair. I appreciate Covid makes things busy but it’s not like they ended up with more people because it was a nice day, everyone had to pre-book so surely they could have staffed it accordingly?
‘If we end up in a second lockdown it’s due to places like that.’
Mrs Keeton said Flamingo Land gave her a refund for her tickets and offered her family a free trip to the park.
Metro.co.uk has contacted the theme park for comment.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more stories like this, check our news page.