Disney on Ice has been accused of trying to “bleed people dry” by inundating parents with pricey merchandise.
The hit children’s show, which ran at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena from April 10 to 13, came under fire for using the events to market a slew of “gimmicky” goods to those in attendance.
One irate 31-year-old took his wife and four-year-old niece on Friday, and spoke of being asked to pay £9 for a Slush Puppie (a drink made up of ice and coloured flavouring), and £8 for a tub of popcorn.
He complained of salespeople walking through the aisles with products during the interval, and of a merchandise stand at every one of the exits.
“It was very aggressive selling; you were sort of bombarded with people trying to sell you stuff,” said the south Belfast-based mechanic.
“The show itself was decent; well done. But it was everything else that went with it.
“It was completely geared towards trying to bleed people dry, and parents were put under pressure due to the fact other parents were buying the stuff for their kids.”
The show is an ice-skating extravaganza boasting a raft of cartoon characters from the movies, and tickets were listed by the Odyssey as ranging from £14.50 to £25.50.
Another customer, a 38-year-old from Co Antrim, had taken their three-year-old daughter on Saturday.
“On the way into the show, we were bombarded with gimmicks from Slush Puppies in decorative cups for £9, to battery-run neon windmills,” she said.
“Pester-power forced me and a lot of other parents to buy something, even though we knew it was a total rip-off.”
However, it was not a universally-held view.
Nicola McMurray, 32, from Dromore, Co Down, went with daughter Kaitlyn, aged four.
She said: “It was a fabulous show and it’s great that events like this are coming to Northern Ireland in a fantastic arena like the Odyssey.
“The children were loving it. And the memories will last for a long time.
“Disney is all about merchandise. Everybody knows that. So it’s up to the parents to manage the child’s expectations – and to decide whether to spend money or not.”
When the Odyssey Arena was telephoned, a member of staff said they believed the merchandise and pricing was down to Disney, but would see if they could get someone to call back with confirmation.
At time of writing, no one had made contact.
Numerous efforts were made to reach someone relevant at Disney, but – again – there was no response.