Winter Wonderland ride horror is latest in a string of incidents

Winter Wonderland or the Nightmare before Christmas? How the slingshot ride horror is latest in a string of incidents – including brawls, theft and a stabbing – to beset the influencers’ festive favourite

  • Winter Wonderland started as open-air Christmas market in Hyde Park in 2005 
  • It now has more than 100 rides, shows, food and drink stalls and an ice rink
  • Festive attraction plagued with issues in recent years including mass brawls
  • It saw ice rink melt and a staff member was caught spying on women in toilets 

Last night’s slingshot ride horror is the latest in a string of incidents to beset Winter Wonderland, a festive favourite with celebrities and influencers. 

Over the years the Christmas attraction has been plagued with issues including mass brawls, theft and even a worker secretly filming women in the toilets.

On Wednesday evening, firefighters rushed to Hyde Park when a ‘reverse bungee’ ride failed, leaving two teenage boys suspended in a cage in the air until they were let down to safety.

The ‘technical issue’ involving the sealed gear box which controls the release of the elastic cord and steel wire rope has seen Winter Wonderland referred to the Health and Safety Executive. 

But this is not the first incident to happen involving the festive entertainment venue within the last week.

Winter Wonderland is a sprawling annual Christmas attraction in Hyde Park

Just days before the ride malfunctioned with two people trapped inside, a 24-year-old man was rushed to hospital after being ‘stabbed in the neck’ outside the attraction. 

Police were called to the scene in Hyde Park just before 9.30pm on Sunday, no arrests have been made and enquiries continue.

A spokesperson for Hyde Park Winter Wonderland said at the time: ‘We are aware of an incident last night involving an individual outside of Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

‘We are working with the relevant authorities to understand more and support their investigations.’

Winter Wonderland from above: The once small open-air Christmas market is now a huge event

The seating pod on the fairground ride at the popular London Christmas attraction crashed into the support beam with riders still inside last night.

Two people who had to be rescued after a fairground ride failed at Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park on Wednesday night

Winter Wonderland, in the heart of central London, started as a small funfair that was free for all to attend when it first began in 2005. 

Two years later, PWR Events launched Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

The firm is behind a number of well-known events and attractions in the capital including most recently the glass lift at the reinvigorated Battersea Power Station.

Its parent company, International Management Group (IMG), is a US-headquartered global sports and entertainment company which produces more than 400 events worldwide.

Since its inception it has grown into a huge event with more than 100 rides, food stalls, festive bars, and shows, with revellers now paying £7.50 for entry at peak times.

It attracts around two million visitors every winter, but some say overcrowding has become an issue at the venue. 

One person wrote on TripAdvisor that Winter Wonderland is ‘no longer the enjoyable experience it used to be in the years before’, adding it was ‘so busy to the point you can’t even move’. 

The venue reduced its capacity by 30 per cent in 2019 and introduced ticketing last year in a bid to keep the crowds at bay.

Some sweets stalls have come under fire for charging £10 for a single small bag of candy, while candyfloss is priced at £8 (file images)

One of the most iconic rides at Winter Wonderland is its giant wheel, which has extraordinary views across London

Meanwhile, visitors slammed ‘overpriced’ food and drink stalls, for ‘rip-off’ prices which sees candyfloss on sale for £8 and a ‘potato on a stick’ costing £7.

Amongst the items to cause backlash were fish and chips for £14, and sweet stalls selling small bags for £10 each. A cone of churros sets customers back by £8. 

Hundreds of celebrities have been spotted visiting the iconic Christmas celebration over the years including the Beckhams, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, as well as reality TV stars from Love Island and The Only Way is Essex.

Meanwhile, influencers are invited to come down and pose with cocktails in hand against the backdrop of a roaring fire as brands sign lucrative deals with the venue.

Winter Wonderland has been wowing visitors for 15 years with rides, performances and plenty of treats

One marketing agency working to raise the profile of Southern Comfort’s Firepit at Winter Wonderland in 2018 put on a month-long Instagram and event promo campaign in which 40 ‘relevant’ influencers were invited to come down and post about it.

But Winter Wonderland’s success could prove to be its downfall as its popularity attracts thousands of people every day – including thieves and troublemakers.

Last year, a woman reported having her £685 Balenciaga trainers stolen while ice skating at the attraction, and heavy drinking has erupted into mass brawls in front of horrified onlookers

In December 2019, a number of violent fights broke out including a punch up while people were queuing to get into the main beer hall in the Bavarian village, followed by another violent incident near the stalls.

A vicious brawl broke out at London’s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park as shocked families watched on

The footage then cuts to show an official in an orange vest forcing one man back. He and two other guards then form a human chain to stop the fight continuing

A security guard at London ‘s Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park were filmed kicking a man in the head after forcing him to the ground (left). The man is then punched in the face 

A security guard was filmed allegedly kicking and punching in a man in the head after restraining and tackling him to the ground in front of shocked crowds. 

Following the incident, a bouncer was sacked and another was suspended. Winter Wonderland also changed its security provider in 2019.

Three people were arrested following public order offences at Winter Wonderland, with a spokesperson confirming a number of people were ejected following ‘incidents’ at the attraction. 

In one particularly nasty fight in 2014, a man’s eye was gouged out with a plastic cup after a brawl erupted over spilt beer, while another incident three years later saw a man punched to the ground and squirted in the face with a fire extinguisher by a security guard.

The surface of the main rink at Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park turned to water (pictured December 2018)

One visitor described the site – where families are paying up to £42 for a session – as ‘more like a water park than an ice rink’

The attraction was also at the the mercy of uncharacteristically warm weather in December 2018, when its ice rink – Britain’s largest – started to melt during the warmest December for 177 years.

As temperatures reached 16C, inch-deep puddles soaked customers and the workers clearing it, with one visitor describing it as ‘more like a water park than an ice rink’. 

The venue was once again in the headlines in 2015 when it emerged that a worker had been using his phone to secretly film women in the toilet.

Tim Bastiaans, 26, who worked at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, hid in a neighbouring cubicle for at least 20 minutes.

He was caught when one of his victims confronted him after spotting his smartphone near a gap on the floor, and despite trying to escape was tracked down by the woman and friend who confronted him before calling the police.  

Bastiaans pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges and was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for each offence to run concurrently, suspended for two years.

Winter Wonderland has been contacted for a comment. 

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