Improvements Promised At Winterfest Following Feedback From Unhappy Families

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PROSPECT HEIGHTS – A holiday festival that promised to transform a 40,000-square-foot space behind the Brooklyn Museum into an outdoor winter wonderland featuring shopping, entertainment, and activities has left some families feeling disappointed.

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

While Winterfest at the Brooklyn Museum does not charge an admission fee, select attractions will cost you, including Santa Land, “The Chocolate Story and Tasting,” a Snowzilla slide, a giant snow globe, a Christmas tree maze, and wine tastings.

Weekend ticket prices for the family-friendly attractions are $20 for adults and $15 for children and include a photo with Santa, seven chocolate tastings, a cup of hot chocolate, access to the tree maze, and other activities.

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

“The ‘paid attractions’ are a complete scam,” reader Julia Kopelson commented on Bklyner on Saturday. “Those few that were not outright absent are not as described (ex: the immersive chocolate experience is actually a cup of instant cocoa and a Tupperware of fun size Halloween candy, the ‘Santa Museum’ is a gator board with some facts printed on it). Pretty outrageous for $20/adult and $15/kid.”

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

It was a “disappointing experience,” said one mother on Sunday afternoon, November 25, who drove into Brooklyn from Long Island City with her husband and two young children for the event. She added that the actual experience was very different from what appears on the Winterfest website saying, “the pictures are far beyond what it was.” Some of the promised attractions, such as the slide and snow globe, were not open during their visit. She noted that she would look into getting a refund since she did not feel her family got what they paid for.

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum’s Christmas tree maze, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

Eppie came to Winterfest from Bay Ridge with her 14-year-old nephew Kristian and two other families with small children. She agreed with the previous guest saying that the paid attractions were “not what we expected” based on what she had seen online, noting that she was surprised that the chocolate tasting consisted of Reese’s and Milky Way miniatures and Swiss Miss brand hot chocolate. She also said that the Christmas tree maze was not challenging for the little ones she accompanied who ranged in age from four to nine.

“Is this it?” her nephew Kristian asked when he stepped inside the paid attraction area. Though he is older than the targeted age group for the section, he told Bklyner, “I thought it was going to be better.” His aunt suggested creating “more of a holiday experience and activities for the kids,” and adding more festive decorations as a way to improve the event.

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum’s vendor market, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

Winterfest is currently operating under a “soft opening right now” and is “improving on a number of things,” says event founder Lena Romanova who has organized similar holiday events in Boston and Las Vegas over the past two years.

This is Winterfest’s “first entry” into Brooklyn and Romanova says her “vision” for the event is to create an “outdoor destination for people to come and enjoy.” She noted that Brooklyn has its “own culture and expectations” and she is listening to feedback from visitors and “learning what [Brooklynites] like and don’t like.”

Winterfest at Brooklyn Museum, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

What works elsewhere “might not work in Brooklyn,” she noted, adding that she is working on tailoring the event more for the community, including more holiday decor and an improved chocolate experience.

As for the closed attractions, Romanova explains that the Snowzilla slide had to be nixed because she found out only ten days prior to opening that the city would not issue her a permit for it. Also, due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the snow globe delivery was delayed, but is expected to arrive this week.

Romanova told Bklyner that refunds have been given to unhappy customers as well as vouchers for a return visit anytime in December. She said visitors who were dissatisfied with the paid attractions during the opening weekend can contact Jennifer Crosby at jennifer@winterfestbrooklynmuseum.com.

Originally from Latvia, Romanova’s family has been hosting holiday markets in Eastern Europe for nine years. She says she is taking the negative feedback “personally,” adding, “I want to make people happy.” She promises an improved experience by Tuesday or Wednesday this week when Winterfest reopens to the public. “We want it to be a memorable experience,” she says.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I spoke to a manager, asking for a refund when we went on Saturday. She was very nice and asked me to email another manager. I haven’t heard back from this person. My family, including people visiting from out of town, spent $70 total. I’m waiting for my refund. If I receive no response or refund I can’t call this anything but a total scam. Not a poorly thrown together holiday event, but an outright scam.

  2. I attended this event and was disappointed that nothing was set up and it was basically false advertising. I contacted Jennifer Crosby several times via email phone and facebook and no response or a refund. I befriended some other folks on facebook with the same complaints and no response or refunds. You can check out their facebook page to see their complaints.

  3. I came on Friday with a dated family pack ticket. I spent over $60. Considering the website still advertises the world’s largest snowman and the “Snowzilla” slide I find this entire thing to be intentionally misleading to families. I purchased my tickets on Friday. Had I known that NONE of the attractions (even the maze and chocolate) would be open, I never would have bought them. In other words, they sold tickets KNOWING that the website was offering attractions that would not open ever (slide) and were not open yet (chocolate, maze, snow globe). They were sharing press about the slide days before the event knowing full well they didn’t have a permit. I have called and written twice. The only response I received was, “We will contact you shortly.” That was the entire email. At this point I just want as many families as possible to know about this to prevent people from continuing to purchase these dated “experiences” online. This isn’t about what “Brooklyn likes.” This is about honesty and goodwill during the holiday season. Very sad.

  4. Yeah, gonna agree with the above.
    They had prior knowledge that things were not operational or wouldn’t be permitted, and still advertised it. They intentionally misled customers and need to give out those refunds.
    My wife and I contacted that Jennifer email, and have yet to receive a response.
    i’m sooooo excited for the class action lawsuit.

  5. Donna Gay (or others): If you have the direct phone number for Jennifer Crosby, that would be appreciated.

    Sent her an email about the horrendous event as well, requesting a refund, no response yet and want other means of contact.

    THANKS!

  6. I contacted Jennifer the hour after I left this “biggest winter fest in ny” on 11/24, then 11/25 and 11/26 demanding my $73.08 for two people (two admissions with VIP line assuming it was going to be this terrific event to avoid lines) and she has yet to email me back. This is a total scam, and would like to know if there is someone higher than this woman to speak with. If anyone has any more info please let us know

  7. Do you know of anyone who has actually received a refund? We have emailed twice and heard nothing, this is very much a scam at this point. Wondering if Jennifer Crosby is a real person? Would be useful to know if anyone has heard anything back from anyone…

  8. I took my 2 kids to Winterfest on Sunday. Contrary to many of the comments here, we had lot of fun. There was a band playing at the dome although we arrived towards the end. Santa was there and was free. Last year I paid $25 in a mall for a photo with a Santa. I paid nothing at this event. I am a bit at loss why so much fuss about $10 and $15 ticket. You guys must be really cheap and on the top you obviously have lot of time on your hands! So a class lawsuit: that’s fairly an uneducated wish: so you need to find a law firm willing to believe there is a huge jackpot at the end -unlikely, very unlikely-, or you need to amass 3000 unhappy customers who believe they were defrauded and are willing to spend more money with the hope to recoup a fraction of $15! Doesn’t all that sound absurd to you. We like to complain in Brooklyn and some of us are very loud and scream scam, maybe we are surrounded by too much of it and many of us but believe they are doing right. Get over it unless your life worth lot less than $15 (that’s what I paid!)

  9. Hi i attended did not buy any paid attractions because there was nothing there, Christmas tree maze was just Christmas trees. I did enjoy the walking around looking into the shops. I enjoyed and tge mull wine and the warm cider for my son. The gentlemen server was kind and considerate.
    Definately nice for a free event and you xan make purchases , there was nothing presented which warranted to paying for an attraction, i hope they iron out the kinks

  10. Gosh, I sort of can’t shake the feeling that Angie’s comment may be coming from somebody who represents this winterfest.
    Oh, btw, in case you’re interested, the woman’s company has run into legal trouble in the past … with a winterfest.
    “Delaware North alleged in its suit that it is still owed $235,000 from the first year of the agreement in 2016, after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in advance payments, and that Millennial officials have repeatedly attempted to amend the agreement while not meeting their obligations.”
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/01/04/deep-freeze-boston-winter-contractors-embroiled-lawsuit-allegations-discrimination/5VdUco6uGLormFbVC6tbfI/story.html

  11. Same issue, came specifically for the slide with 4 kids, which were extremely disappointed with this event, it was a total JOKE!! DO NOT ATTEND! unless you want to throw $70 in the garbage.

  12. I did receive a refund directly through See Tickets, the company that sold the tickets online. Good luck to all!

  13. I did not receive a refund. I was surprised when I got an email.from Jennifer but there was no mention of a refund. This was her response:

    Dear Donna

    We are so sorry to hear about your experience at Winterfest. We heard your feedback.

    Also, we’d like to offer you tickets for a future visit and a glass of mulled wine on us.

    Jennifer
    Winterfest Brooklyn Museum

  14. I was looking forward to go there but looks like I will safe my money.
    If you wanna amazing Santa picture for free go to ABC carpet store Manhattan.saturday from 10am sunday11am
    I am sure that people working hard to improve everything but they should stop posting all those fairy tales pictures of the reality tottaly different.

  15. I received a refund. Email See Tickets (the ticket seller). They responded immediately. Jennifer @ Winterfest never responded.

  16. It’s not just a scam for anyone buying tickets (the website makes it seem like you need them, quite purposely) but it’s also just seriously lame. We went for 30 mins and it was awful. The maze, the wine tasting and all the attractions tbh are a ridiculous joke. Some of the local stalls are nice, of course. But I wouldn’t make a special trip. Go to Bryant Park instead, it feels like a Christmas Wonderland there.

  17. From out of town visiting family. Decided to take them and our grandchildren to this “major attraction”. It was pitiful. Had ordered tickets online for 4 adults and 1 child (fortunately the smallest grandchild is too young to remember any of this). Also paid for my granddaughter to have her picture with Santa. So $110 plus tax later I am here to advise you to walk around Dyker Heights or if you want great shopping markets go to Bryant Park. DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON THIS (unless you feel it is part of your penitence and necessary to avoid hell).

  18. I never heard back from Jennifer@winterfest, nor did I get a refund. I contacted See tickets and was referred back to the organizers, thereafter I contacted my bank and disputed the charge with hopes that they approve it.

  19. I jist realized the cat rescue group I work with had been approached by the event organizers. Here is the contact info from the email:

    Melanie
    Project Manager | SEEK EVENTS
    hello@seekevents.nyc
    (c) (443) 773-2581

    Hope you all get your money back!

  20. FYI Melanie and Seek Events are no longer associated with this event. Lena fired her and her team. It was mentioned in one the news outlets, I think CBS.

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