Christmas park forced to shut down

LONDON (AP) - December 8, 2008

Lapland West Midlands had promised visitors an "authentic taste of Christmas" with huskies, reindeer and snow blown every hour at a site at Essington, 135 miles (220 kilometers) northwest of London, but early visitors previewing the event saw only a handful of tents in a muddy field, garishly painted figurines, and no sign of the promised ice rink.

Local authorities warned people not to show up.

"There aren't any animals up at the site. There's not a lot up there in the way of an event," said Carol Dean, an official from the local Staffordshire County Council.

Another Christmas park in southern England closed earlier this week after customers complained the decorations were shoddy and events badly organized. Some customers there reportedly became so irate they attacked the park's Santa Claus and physically abused an elf.

A message posted on the Web site for Lapland West Midlands said the event would not open as planned because of bad publicity and a lack of ticket sales.

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