Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's Christmas blighted attraction closes for good: 'It's absolutely shocking and I feel extremely sorry'

The interior designer will donate his fee to a Birmingham children’s hospice

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The Independent Online

Spare a thought for Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, whose well-intentioned Christmas attraction has finally come to a shambolic close.

The Magical Journey, which opened late last month, was blighted with problems from the start – children allegedly left in tears after the festive wonderland disappointed.

Organisers were forced to deny claims of a swearing, drinking Father Christmas – a claim made by one Facebook user in jest – although admitted that it was possible that elves could be seen with cigarettes from the outdoor staff area.

The attraction shut after just one day, following a deluge of customer complaints. Elves and Santa Clauses were given further training and measures put in place so that the magical train did not break down again, and the outdoor bazaar reopened days later.

But, perhaps Llewelyn-Bowen’s festive wonderland just wasn’t meant to be. The Magical Journey in Sutton Coldfield has now shut down for good, after a backer pulled out. A statement was released on the attraction’s Facebook page.

“We are truly sorry,” read the statement. “After all we’ve been through having to shut down in the final week is devastating. Although we had quite the time of it in the press and on social media, feedback was great with over 600 four and five star reviews. However, today a key financial backer has dropped out leaving us in the lurch. We have tried desperately over the last few hours to find a replacement but to no avail.”

Organisers pledged to give all pre-booked guests their money back. Llewelyn-Bowen, who was responsible for the design of the seasonal extravaganza, heard about the news on Twitter.

“It’s absolutely shocking,” he told The Guardian. “We found out by Twitter. Everybody was in bed feeling Christmassy and now we are not feeling very Christmassy at all. I was really impressed with the way they addressed all the issues the first time around and the energy and resources that went into it so I’m extremely surprised the towel’s been thrown in at this stage.

“I feel appalling it is not the happy experience I really want it to be. I feel extremely sorry for everybody let down in the next nine days and also for the staff who worked on the frontline.”

The interior designer said he would donate his undisclosed fee to a Birmingham children’s hospice.

“I do not want to make any money at all out of this experience,” he said.

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