Some Customers Paid For Access To 'Exclusive' Attractions, But Ended Up Feeling Played By Organizers; Event To Be Free Starting Thursday

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was supposed to be a jolly holiday extravaganza for families, but it instead ended up being a huge disappointment for many.

People say WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum was falsely advertised and a waste of money, CBS2’s Reena Roy reported Monday.

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The event was full of promises, advertised as a festive wonderland with activities galore.

“We ran it by the kids ages 5 to 9. They thought it sounded great. It looked like it would be a fun day,” customer Clara Lin said.

But for many, it ended up being nothing but a let down when it opened a week and a half ago.

“The whole thing seems like a purposeful scam,” Lin said.

WinterFest at the Brooklyn Museum was advertised as the ultimate holiday experience. But according to some patrons, it was anything but. (Photo: CBS2)

Customer after customer commenting on Facebook had similar complaints and asked for refunds after many of them, including Lin, paid for special access to so-called “exclusive” attractions.

“We paid a total of $70 for tickets,” Lin said. “We were promised a giant slide, an enchanted tree maze, a chocolate tent.”

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People were expecting all of that and more, but they told CBS2 some activities didn’t exist, while others were flat-out disappointments.

For example, there was a hodge-podge of Christmas toys inside a small tent, a powdered hot chocolate booth, and a row of Christmas trees meant to be a maze.

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“I was thinking of all the other things we could’ve spent our time doing for the holidays,” Lin said.

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At least two vendors, hoping to sell their goods as part of the holiday market, backed out a few days in, including Libby Farrow and her husband.

“None of the things that were supposed to be there were there,” Farrow said. “We don’t wan’t to be associated with something that’s a scam or coming across as a scam. We’re not in the business of disappointing children at Christmas.”

She said they paid more than $6,000 in fees to be a part of the festival, but had to get out fast. She said she is hoping for a refund as well.

“We’ve been doing holiday markets for 12 years,” Farrow said, adding when asked if she had ever experienced anything like this before, “Never. Never.”

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A WinterFest organizer told CBS2 that in its first 10 days the event had more than 45,000 visitors. And that after receiving complaints, staff added more content and decor and is also issuing refunds for paid tickets, Roy reported.

The Brooklyn Museum said it did not organize the event, but did license a portion of its parking lot to event staff, adding the museum is disappointed with how things turned out. It has demanded the festival become a free event for all.

WinterFest was closed Monday evening as it was scheduled be. Organizers said it will open back up on Thursday afternoon, with all attractions being completely free to the public until the festival closes at the end of the month.

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Event organizers told CBS2 it will address refunds for vendors on a case-by-case basis.