It’s the winter wonderland that made parents across the Coast wonder what exactly Central Coast Council was thinking, with this year’s Winter in the Park branded an epic fail by families that attended during the July school holidays.
Lacklustre attractions, overpriced activities and misleading advertising are all atop the list of complaints from families that made the trip to Gosford’s Kibble Park, highlighted by the bombardment of criticism the event has received on Council’s social media.
Many were returning after the highly successful event in 2018, which enjoyed rave reviews, and attracted around 5,000 people over its eight day run.
This year’s event was seemingly Council’s most ambitious one yet, when it was announced that Winter in the Park 2019 was set to run for 15 days with a range of new activities.
Doubts first surfaced when Council’s 2019 program of events revealed that the miniature ice-skating rink, the flagship attraction of past Winter in the Parks, was not returning.
Outright complaints started flooding in to Council’s social media when parents realised that marketing for Winter in the Park 2019 implied the event would be in full swing daily from 10am from July 6-19.
The event did not run daily and was closed on Sundays, a decision questioned by many considering the first day of the event was a Saturday.
Parents that planned ahead by checking the Winter in the Park program of events quickly realised that there was nothing happening on Sundays but noted that even in the official program the event was listed as having daily offerings despite it proving to the contrary.
Others who weren’t so lucky and who turned up on a Sunday, arrived to find non-operating amusement rides and some deflated inflatables.
“Was disappointed to learn, after our trek from Warnervale, that there were no activities or shows today (July 7) just a deserted Kibble Park.
“The advertising is misleading when it reads July 6-20,” Janine Sullivan wrote on Council’s 2019 Winter in the Park event page.
Other upset parents also took to the event page to voice their annoyance regarding the overall quality of the event.
“One melted ice sculpture, one closed off activity, one food stall selling chips and a coffee stand.
“Everyone’s just in the playground which isn’t even part of the event.
“Very disappointing,” wrote, Louisa Davies.
“Bring back the ice rink.
“At least it actually worked, attracted people to the area (especially in the evening) and had a vibe of winter about it.
“Two and a half empty igloos, one not even blown up properly, rides that barely worked and having the hide to ask $5 a pop for them, and two food (although it’s being generous calling it food) trucks, what exactly is the event again?
“When the playground that’s there all the time is the most attended part of the event, you know you goofed,” wrote, James Walker.
Other complaints noted included activities starting ahead of their scheduled program time and subsequently selling out, a lack of quality control on activities and malfunctioning attractions.
A spokesperson for Council said that despite the negative comments on the event page, feedback from the community had been overwhelmingly positive regarding Winter in the Park 2019.
“The event attracted around 12,000 people over the 15 days and is estimated to have injected around $900,000 into the local economy,” the spokesperson said.
In relation to complaints around the event advertising, the spokesperson said the word ‘daily’ in the event program referred to the Igloo Village and carnival ride attractions only, which operated between 10am to 4pm.
“The program outlines each activity and the corresponding times and dates.
“The Igloo Village was scheduled to be open for photo opportunities on each day, including Sundays, however, unfortunately due to extremely high winds on Sunday, July 14, the site was deemed unsafe to the public and therefore Council were unable to operate the Igloos on this occasion only.
“Council released social media posts to inform the community of this and a local radio station did community announcements with this update.
“Council’s marketing encouraged the community to view the program to determine what was happening daily,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also weighed in on complaints regarding quality control and activity costs.
“Council had a number of free and paid activities throughout the program.
“The pre-booked cupcake workshops were $30 per child and these were completely booked out prior to the event.
“The ‘Build your own cupcake’ activities and the carnival rides were each $5 per child.
“Council isn’t aware of any issues regarding the rides.
“Daily reports indicated that all rides were in operation, except for July 14 due to inclement weather, along with igloos having to be deflated for public safety.
“Council has received positive feedback from surrounding local businesses, all businesses involved with the event, and is always looking at other ideas for the future,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson concluded by saying that Council is planning to take on all stakeholder feedback to develop plans for next year’s Winter in the Park.
“We are always looking to improve on previous years and we appreciate all feedback from this year’s event,” the spokesperson said.
Website, Jul 19
Central Coast Council, Winter in the Park 2019
Document, Jul 19
Winter in the Park 2019 event program
Media statement, Jul 24
Central Coast Council Media
Dilon Luke, Journalist