Angry parents lambasted the event, which was held at the Colonnades Shopping Centre in Adelaide and promised Christmas-themed games and activities, as well as the chance to meet Santa in an “enchanted forest”.
In reality, attendees were met with a dour warehouse with minimal decorations. The result was severely underwhelming.
To top it all off, tickets cost $27 per person, while a family deal was $92.
Photos from the ill-fated Winter Village also went viral in a tweet shared by Tom Tanuki. “It looks like the Fyre Festival of kid’s Santa events,” he wrote.
While the event was supposed to run until 23rd December, it has since been suspended by organisers.
In a statement posted on the Colonnades Shopping Centre Facebook account, a spokesperson announced that the Winter Village had been closed and refunds were being arranged.
“We’ve listened to your feedback and, we agree, Santa’s Winter Village does not meet the expectations of our customers, the broader community or our team at Colonnades and we apologise for the disappointment and inconvenience this has caused our customers,” the statement reads.
But in a surprising turn of events, Tanuki, who shared the viral tweet about the incident, started a petition requesting the event to be reopened.
“The thing is, while Santa's Winter Village looked awful, and cost far too much, it should not have been cancelled by an army of howling whingers,” he wrote in the petition’s description. “Because though they may not know it, Santa's Winter Village represents the true spirit of Christmas.”
In an interview with Buzzfeed News, he also made clear his stance on the event. “I know I said it was like a kid's Santa Fyre Festival, but I thought that was good," he said. "I want that. Kids are fine with s--- stuff. They make their own fun."
At least he’s not alone. Over 200 people have signed the petition calling to bring back Santa’s Winter Village.
In a report for 7News Australia, parent Katie Long admitted that she was ‘baffled by what she was seeing.’ In contrast organiser Lorraine Malone complained that they were 'being robbed of customers.'
Who knows, maybe Netflix will make an all-telling documentary on this legendary debacle as well.