Families upset after pumpkin patch introduces 'excessive' parking charges

By Jess Flaherty

A popular pumpkin patch has caused a stir after upping its parking prices for its return this year - with some people threatening a boycott.

Pumpkin Alley Pick Your Own Pumpkins in Ormskirk is well recognised by its famous sign. This year, the farm is offering its traditional pumpkin picking via a booking system to "avoid anyone being turned away".

The attraction is incredibly popular among Halloween and autumn enthusiasts, thanks to its field which is sown with seeds especially imported to grow consistently large pumpkins. There are also white pumpkins available at the organic patch.

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Taking to Facebook, the team confirmed the venue was ready to welcome guests back for this year and informed followers of changes made in response to "feedback from 2020".

Pumpkin Alley Pick Your Own Pumpkins' Facebook post reads: "Hello pumpkin pickers!!! We have some very IMPORTANT information for you!

"We have been working hard ready to welcome you back for 2021!

"We have taken your feedback on board from 2020, and we have introduced a booking system to avoid anyone being turned away."

The post went on to reveal the site will be open from October 1, and tickets will cost £6 per car which includes parking, admission and use of the venue's wheelbarrows.

Pumpkins will cost £5 each, and its cake shack will be on site serving food, as well as hot and cold drinks. "Friendly dogs on leads" are welcome and guests are encouraged to clean up after their pets.

Pumpkin Alley Pick Your Own Pumpkins added: "There will be plenty of photo opportunities with our Pumpkin Alley sign and spooky scarecrows. We are very excited to welcome you all back! Let's make some more pumpkin picking memories for 2021".

But the post caused a stir on the hit social media platform, racking up almost 400 reactions and 1,000 comments from disgruntled customers who are unimpressed with the parking fee.

They took to the comments section to share their thoughts.

Sarah McDowall wrote: "So we would’ve usually pay £10 for 3 pumpkins but the same thing will cost £21 this year? How does that make sense why would customers feedback be to pay double. I’ve never had a problem with too many [people] on site either and we have been coming for over 10 years. Maybe just have the booking system on busy days like the weekend before Halloween and not try to scalp young families".

Zoey Wilson said: "Oh well we will have to find somewhere else to go this year then! Sorry but we spent over £30 last year on pumpkins and now on top of potentially paying that again this year you want £6 for me to park my car for what will probably be an hour / hour and half at tops!!!!"

Leanne Smith said: "We've been coming for a couple of years. While I fully understand the booking system, £6 is a bit excessive."

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Lyndsey Richardson said: "Nothing wrong with charging for parking but 6 quid? We have been every year for past 5 years and each time are there less than an hour. Thanks for all the memories over the years but we will be picking elsewhere this year".

Kandis Shepherd added: "I think you've just lost a lot of customers. I know i wont be paying £6 for parking on a muddy field. We've had great days [here] for the past few years but no more".

In a follow up comment, Pumpkin Alley Pick Your Own Pumpkins posted: "The booking system and paying to park is new for this year after feedback from actual visitors from 2020. As people may be aware we made national news when the patch had to be closed due to dangerous parking and unacceptable behaviour from visitors. (Details can still be found on our page from 2020)

"In order to actually manage the flow of cars and people we have had to introduce a booking system. This ensures that we do not experience dangerous parking, and also helps keep wheelbarrow queues down to a minimum.

"Some pumpkin patches charge a per person admission fee but to keep things affordable for visitors and because traffic was our main focus we are charging per car

"Visitor safety is extremely important, and we wanted to learn from last year to improve everyones experience so everyone has a lovely day with us".

The ECHO has contacted Pumpkin Alley Pick Your Own Pumpkins for a comment.

First admission is 9.30am and last admission is 5.30pm before the site closes at 6pm.

You can book tickets by clicking here.

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