ANGRY season ticket holders for Paultons Park claim they are being treated unfairly after it was revealed that slots put aside for them ran out in hours while the public were still able to buy tickets for the same days.
Ahead of its reopening tomorrow (Saturday) the theme park in Ower is running a mandatory online reservation system.
In the past season ticket holders could use them whenever they wanted with no prior booking. But now they have to book tickets along with everyone else, with a number of slots for season ticket holders released per week.
Many have been complaining that the allocated tickets are taken within hours while the general public can still buy tickets for those dates.
One mother complained on social media: “They said there were ample spaces for season tickets, this is not true. It’s all sold out for us and there’s still space every day for day-ticket purchase.”
Another angry customer said: “I’m gutted. I really believed them when they said that they had reserved enough spaces. The fact that all days are still available to buy is such a kick in the teeth.”
Another commented: “As a season ticket holder you should have the availability to go as and when you want as that is why we chose to be season ticket holders.”
A spokesperson for Paultons Park said that the new booking system had been put in place to “safely manage” guest numbers as initially it will have to operate on a “significantly reduced park capacity”.
It had offered spaces to season ticket holders from 4th-12th July, with more space to be opened up weekly.
The spokesperson said: “There was a huge demand from our season ticket holders for these initial dates. We’re sorry that everyone who wished to visit during this period was not able to secure a space.
“We understand how frustrating this situation is for many of our guests, but it’s important we start slowly while our staff get used to working under our Covid-secure measures, so we can be confident we can keep everyone safe within government and social distancing guidelines.”
The spokesperson added that the measures were “purely temporary” and will be reviewed regularly to assess when more capacity for season ticket holders can be released.
They also pointed out that season tickets have been extended by at least five months so that “nobody loses out financially”.
All the rides at Paultons Park and most of its attractions, including Peppa Pig World, Critter Creek and Lost Kingdom, will be open from tomorrow.
A free mobile app will help customers maintain social distancing by allowing virtual queueing for the most popular rides, notifying them when they can board.
Indoor play areas, Water Kingdom, Muddy Puddles and the 4D Show Street Cinema will remain closed.
Paultons operations director James Mancey said: “We recognised that this technology would play a crucial role in our reopening strategy and accelerated our plans to bring this feature to fruition as a result of Covid-19.”
Adventure Wonderland in Hurn is also re-opening tomorrow. Nearly all the rides will be open with social distancing maintained.
Staff will be wearing PPE and intensive cleaning regimes will be implemented along with sanitiser stations throughout the park.
Limited tickets for half-day sessions are available for online booking only. The park will be open daily, and the half-day sessions will run from 9.30am-1pm and 2pm-5.30pm.