Controversial Santa's Grotto is 'more family-friendly'

Santa and his helper greeting people and handing out presents at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Ta

Santa and his helper greeting people and handing out presents at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

The organiser of a controversial drive-thru Santa's Grotto has said major improvements have been made - and hopes to hold the event every year.

The Santa's Grotto event at Taverham Hall opened last Friday to fierce criticism from families.

Among complaints were two-hour traffic queues and 'creepy' characters which scared children.

Performer at Santa's drive-thru grotto at Taverham Hall.

Performer at Santa's drive-thru grotto at Taverham Hall. - Credit: Jenny Yaxley

Organiser Ollie George said coverage of the production, which hit national headlines, was "fair".

He added: "There were some major teething issues from the very start, to do with access on the site and also customers arriving at the wrong times, which wasn't helping traffic flow on the site.

"I think the coverage was fair. If the access issues had been resolved before we opened I don't think we would have received anywhere near as much negative publicity as we did get."

The Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden

The Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden


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Mr George said he had taken criticism onboard and has made sweeping changes which have "turned the production around."

This includes the removal of the 'scary' Scrooge character, who has now been replaced by a head elf.

Mr George said: "We changed the three ghosts and turned them into three wise men, so it's much more family-friendly and the feedback from that was fantastic.

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"We've also added more dance routines into the production, as we found families enjoyed those the most."

Overall, Mr George said he was "grateful" for the early feedback.

Santa greeting people at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Daniell

Santa greeting people at the Drive-Thru Santa's Grotto at Taverham Hall in Norwich. Picture: Danielle Booden - Credit: Danielle Booden

He added: "It's a shame that it got off to a bad start but feedback is really important for all our productions. The customers are our eyes and ears out there and they're the ones booking tickets in the future.

"The negative coverage that it did receive is sad, but I think in all honesty it made it a better production going forward, and we know not to make those mistakes again."

On Wednesday, our reviewer attended the event and said they had "very much got their act together."

Mr George said he hoped to have a version of the production every year.

He added: "We may tweak it next year - it might not be a drive-thru as no-one knows what the circumstances will be."

 

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