Meadowhall's new 'Puppet Reindeer Parade' splits opinion with customers after replacing Santa's Grotto

Santa and his helper with the magical puppet reindeer and young fans at Meadowhall
Santa and his helper with the magical puppet reindeer and young fans at Meadowhall
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A new Christmas attraction at Meadowhall involving huge reindeer puppets has divided opinion between parents.

Santa's Puppet Reindeer Parade started at the huge shopping centre on November 22 and will run right up until December 18, replacing Santa's Grotto.

The giant 7ft mechanical creatures are controlled by three puppeteers and led by Santa Claus as they parade through the centre.

Andy Brunskill and Jimmy Grimes created the idea after working on the award-winning West End hit War Horse.

However, despite being billed by bosses as a 'unique theatrical experience', visited have had mixed reactions to the huge spectacle.

Some visitors were amazed by the production, with many describing it as an 'amazing, magical event' but some parents complained that it left their children terrified.

Holly Whitehead said: "Looks like a friggin’ AT-AT from Star Wars! I can not believe this has replaced Santa’s grotto! Shame on you Meadowhell! Where’s the Christmas spirit in that?!

Sadie Faye Cresswell said: "Me and my family witnessed this amazing magical event come alive, it was so special to say the least we loved it and you can even stroke the reindeer and get quite close to it."

Samantha Bruce said: "If it was this as well as the grotto then yes but this with out I’m sorry it’s not brilliant! My son wasn’t impressed with the reindeer at all, he was actually a little scared!"

Mandy Wright said: "It's a lovely change from a grotto!!! I shall shop there as always as I enjoy the hustle and bustle of Xmas and can't wait to see the reindeer xxx"

Catherine Caswell said: "Don't see how this is better then a grotto I personally will not be shopping at Meadowhall this Christmas. I will go some where that has a grotto for my daughter."

Peter Doherty said: "Was shocking any kid seeing that could see the people working it terrible. Poor effort."

However, Meadowhall have defended the new attraction with centre director Darren Pearce calling the spectacle 'astounding'.

He said: "The expertise which has gone into making the reindeer family is truly astounding. We’re thrilled to be hosting such an individual and enchanting Christmas experience.”

Managers have also responded to customers' complaints by stressing the event is free and still included Santa.

A Meadowhall spokesperson told the Sun: "As part of the Centre’s £60m transformation, Meadowhall also evolved its Christmas experience with the introduction of the Santa’s Puppet Reindeer Parade this year to replace the former grotto which had been in place for the past three years.

“The new show still features Santa at the heart of the parade along with the handcrafted puppets.

“Unlike most Christmas activities, the Meadowhall puppet parade is free and there is no need to book with three performances every day running until December 18.

“We are very proud and excited about the new Christmas offering at Meadowhall.”