EVERY Christmas there are stories detailing horror shows of Christmas theme parks.

Whether it’s expensive tickets, massive queues or a shambolic set-up, the festive calamities never fail to grab the headlines.

But did you know it is 10 years since Dorset’s own Christmas theme park hit the news?

In 2008, Lapland New Forest at Matchams near Ringwood - billed as a “winter wonderland” - proved anything but.

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture thanks to Bournemouth Helicopters

Described on the website as offering snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, husky dogs, polar bears and other animals, as well as a bustling Christmas market, families found the reality somewhat different.

Complaints of a muddy field, broken ice rink and fairy lights hanging from trees, sparked hundreds of complaints to trading standards officials and less than a week later, the attraction closed.

Visitors were charged £30 a ticket, with up to 10,000 advance bookings online.

People had travelled from Wales, Midlands and further afield to visit the site.

An employment agency also pulled staff out amid fears for their safety.

“Elves” were involved in scuffles with furious parents in a “gingerbread house” and Father Christmas was punched while in his grotto, according to angry customers.

One parent even complained her children stumbled across Santa during a smoking break at the back of his grotto.

After just six days after it opened, the attraction closed amid chaotic scenes when customers and the media clashed with staff.

As reported at the time, a radio presenter and his sidekick “elf” also became involved in a scuffle with security guards.

Dorset Trading Standards prosecuted brothers Victor and Henry Mears under consumer protection laws.

Bournemouth Echo:

The trial took place in February 2011.

During the sentencing, Judge Mark Horton said the park “looked like an averagely managed summer car boot sale.”

Both denied eight charges of misleading advertising but they were found guilty on all counts by the jury.

However, their convictions were quashed on appeal.

Months after the sentence, a trio of judges at the Court of Appeal heard arguments that the trial jury at Bristol Crown Court should have been discharged after a juror had been exchanging text messages with her fiancé. The appeal judges said they had “reached the conclusion that the convictions are unsafe”.

The juror was discharged during the trial, but Judge Mark Horton rejected an application for the entire jury to be disbanded.

At the time, Dorset County Council said it would not be in the public interest to request a re-trial, particularly as the events took place almost three years previously and that both men had served prison sentences.