'No amount of spin can remedy this' - Fortnite Live organisers claim event has been 'huge hit' despite furious customers
PUBLISHED: 08:37 17 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:28 17 February 2019
Organisers behind a Fortnite Live gaming festival described as "shambolic" and "like Fyre Festival" have insisted their event has been a "huge hit".
Hundreds of families demanded refunds after attending the first day of the festival at the Norfolk Showground on Saturday, saying they faced hours of queues, understaffing and underwhelming games.
On top of the £13.95 ticket, visitors were required to purchase a £20 wristband to take part in the “specialist activities,” such as archery and laser tag, with many having to wait again for another hour in long queues to participate.
But parents and children were shocked to find the arena filled with a few activities that were not related to the popular game.
Although a live games activity with 73 consoles had been set up for avid gamers, other activities which did not require a wristband included a bouncy castle, basketball shooting and a flossing dance competition on a small stage.
Mothers and fathers waited for more than an hour in a long queue which spilled out of the arena doors to get a refund.
Floods of comments appeared on the Fortnite Live Facebook page with customers airing their frustration and comparing the event to the 2017 Fyre Festival, in the Bahamas, in which thousands of festival-goers who paid up to £75,000 for tickets slept in soaking wet tents and were fed soggy sandwiches.
Steve Patrick travelled from Terrington St Clement to attend Fortnite Live with his wife and two children.
“There was nothing there,” he said. “We were there for half an hour, the queue for a refund was massive.”
Speaking whilst waiting in the queue for a refund, Philip Hinchliffe, from Norwich, who brought his 11-year-old son to the event, said: “He’s out in the field playing with sticks, he’s having more fun doing that than he did at this event.”
Lucy Walters, who was with her son Harvey, 11, said: “It was pretty rubbish. We queued and queued and queued for nothing, we bought wristbands but there was nothing there.”
When asked what went wrong, events organiser Shaun Lord said: “We don’t know.” He said there had been staffing issues which resulted in long queues forming at the start of the event. “That was the biggest problem,” he said. “We had a bit of queuing at the beginning and that in turn got people in a different mood before they even got in.
“We put on a fantastic show with lots of activities and lots of people enjoyed themselves.”
In a post on their Facebook page last night, organisers from Exciting Events claimed they had “so many happy children”
“However, these happy visitors have been accompanied by a mixed bag of feedback with the queues wearing thin on some visitor’s patience and we sincerely apologise to those visitors who gave feedback regarding the queues,” they added.
“We’ve listened, got our heads together and will cut queue times by offering wristbands and tokens on entry, as well as re-organising the 72 Battle Royale Stations with an ‘All On’ and ‘All Off’ approach, enjoying 15 minute sessions per play.”
They added since “surrounding publicity” from the BBC and EDP, they have been “inundated by fans wanting tickets” for today’s event.
But angry customers piled in to correct the statement.
Debbie Wahle said: “No amount of spin can remedy the situation.”
“This event was an absolute disgrace and shambolic, very poor and in no way what was on offer,” she said. “There is no information at all in response to the huge number of complaints. I have emailed, politely, numerous times today.
“The number of complaints and no doubt press coverage will show how this “event” was experienced by those attending. “I am sure as responsible organisers you will do the honourable thing and refund each and every request, as many families bought tickets in good faith, and judging by what transpired today, we all have an absolute right to have our money returned.”