Princess Academy made my little girl’s dreams come true

Princess Academy

It’s super special to be able to follow up my post about the car-crash that was M’s 5th birthday party – well the ‘Elsa entertainer‘ from AEIOU Children’s Parties looked like she’d been in a car-crash – with a post about the wonderful Princess Academy and friends, who threw the most amazing party for M and her best pals.

Like many other really kind entertainers, Princess Academy, got in touch with me when news of ‘Bad Elsa’ went viral and into the national media – it also made TV news in Australia and Japan!

Princess Becky from Princess Academy offered to create a magical party for M, and what I loved most was that Becky got in touch by email, and made it very clear that she didn’t want any publicity, she just wanted to do something to make a little girl’s dreams come true.

And the good-heartedness of Princess Becky and her merry band of princesses is what shone through at the party. These are entertainers who truly believe in creating magic for little children…

…which is why I decided to side-step the ‘no publicity’ thing and shout loudly about how wonderful this merry band of entertainers is.

The princesses, plus their dashing escorts, were in character from the moment we arrived at the Princess Academy until the moment we left. It didn’t matter if they were talking to an adult or a child, they made sure the magic spell wasn’t broken.

M and her pals were royally treated to two hours of fun… they sang, they danced, they iced cakes, they shot baddie cartoon characters with balloons, they had a deportment class (!), they dined on a feast of party food, they had a fairytale read to them, and best of all, they each got to hug and hang out with all the princesses… and a couple of their mums may have grabbed the chance to hug Pirate Jack 🙂

Usually I’m all about the words, but in this instance, pictures speak far louder… so here’s a curation from M’s Princess Academy party…

Princess Academy Princess Entertainers

Princess Academy and friends

Hug a Princess

 

11178497_10153302773260746_172212170_n

Archery Lesson with Merida

Freya, Elle, Aggy with Snow White

Jack and Sunday

Misty with Elsa, Anna and Kristoff

Ellen Elsa Hug

So all that remains is for me to say a MASSIVE thank you on behalf of M, Adam and me, to everyone who worked with the Princess Academy to make M’s party super duper special and an experience she’ll treasure for a lifetime…

Princess Academy – the party was the brainchild of Princess Becky, who is one very kind and special lady. The role call for all the wonderful princesses and dashing dudes follows, please do contact them if you want to have an entertainer who really understands what it takes to create magic for children…

Photography by Colin Roberts – Colin did a brilliant job of capturing all the activity whilst somehow never encroaching on the fun. Find Colin at Colin Roberts Photography.

The food was lovingly supplied by Ronnie’s Kitchen, who created Melted Olaf yoghurt, Sven’s carrots, frozen heart strawberries dipped in white chocolate… the creativity was fabulous.

A super duper thank you to The Music Box, who provided the marquee for the Princess Academy.

And finally, a thank you to Princess Pop-Ins, who weren’t able to attend the party, but provided ‘magic coins’ to help create the party.

Misty hugs Merida

AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Review – Horrific Experience

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

We booked an ‘Elsa from Frozen Entertainer’ from AEIOU Parties Ltd, a children’s party entertainment agency in London, for our daughter’s 5th birthday party.

We are deeply unhappy with the ‘entertainment’ AEIOU provided and the way they have dealt with this issue.  I’ve posted about our story, because I would hate for any other families to have the same experience.

A quick summary of this post:

  • The entertainer was late, and didn’t call us to let us know
  • The entertainer looked dreadful
  • The entertainer told the kids “Elsa couldn’t make it”
  • The entertainment provided was appalling
  • AEIOU Parties refused us a full refund

Our little girl was HUGELY excited, as were all her friends, that she would be having an Elsa Entertainer. Little did I know what a mistake I’d made trusting AEIOU.

The images below are of what the actual entertainer looked like.

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen EntertainerAEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

Add to this that the lady had a heavy Spanish accent and you begin to get a picture of the level of care put into providing us with an Elsa Entertainer.

According to the agency, they cannot discriminate over who they give a job to. Fine if the person can pull off the accent of the character they are playing and looks vaguely like them…

The Entertainer Was Late

Our party started at 4pm. The entertainer was due to start entertaining at 4:15pm.

She finally arrived at 4:20pm and didn’t start entertaining the children until 4:35pm.

We did not receive a call to say she’d be late. We called the agency twice, who didn’t know where the entertainer was either.

Any parent who has put their heart and soul into preparing a kids party will understand how stressful this was – greeting expectant guests and their parents with a rictus smile, whilst trying to contact the agency to find out where the entertainer was and dying a little inside that I’d trusted them.

How Our ‘Elsa from Frozen’ Looked

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

I think the photos say it all. She looked dreadful, like she’d left a rave at 6am.

Apparently the Elsa outfit had been worn by another entertainer earlier that day and was wet with sweat. So, our entertainer decided to put the outfit on OVER THE TOP over her own clothes, which happened to be black.

She didn’t even bother to put the costume shoes on and wore a pair of tatty black flat shoes. The dress came undone at the back, someone did it up for her, but it wouldn’t stay done up, so she left it to hang off.

The wig didn’t fit her and she didn’t bother to put any make-up on.

AEIOU have since gone on to be quoted in a piece in TheMirror.co.uk to say that actually, despite it being their fault that the entertainer was late and her costume was dirty, it is actually our fault that she looked such a mess, because if our party was really so important, we should have given her more time… I’d love to know how that would have worked… “oh hold on kids, the entertainment should have started 20 minutes ago, but if you could just amuse yourselves whilst we help the entertainer get better prepared…” 

Here’s their laughable accusation…

‘We assume the responsibility of the delay, the wet costume and therefore not having the right amount of time to prepare, but I think that if the party was so important as we also think it should be, Luci should have go to the entertainer [sic] and give the time she needed to look great.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2940748/Mother-s-fury-Frozen-entertainer-s-sweaty-ill-fitting-costume-five-year-old-s-birthday-party-show.html#ixzz3QtWQbRKq

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

The Entertainment

“Elsa couldn’t come to your party”

The entertainment was dreadful… To start with, when one of the children asked her…

“Where is Elsa?”

The ‘entertainer’ replied…

“Elsa couldn’t come to the party, so I am here instead”

I think everyone can imagine how that made our little girl feel.

Where’s the music?

The entertainer’s PA system wasn’t very powerful and had constant static and feedback.

The entertainer told my husband that she has a bigger PA system, but doesn’t like bringing it to parties because it is too heavy. Useful.

Parents open-mouthed in disbelief

She did some singing, but she hadn’t bothered to stage herself, rather she stuck to a corner of the room – a room with sloping eves – and it was all very underwhelming.

The combination of the way the entertainer looked, in her cheap and dirty Elsa dress thrown over her own black clothes, the ill-fitting wig, the totally inappropriate-for -the-character heavy Spanish accent, and the fact her singing was awful, had all the parents’ jaws dropping to the floor in disbelief.

Face painting stress & parents have to take over entertaining

I had expressed concerns with the agency about the time it would take to face paint 20 children, and had agreed with the agency that the entertainer would do a very small and simple design on each child.

This did not happen until I intervened.  If the entertainer had carried on at her pace, it would have taken her well over an hour to complete the 20 kids….

…which might have been bearable if she’d got something up her sleeve to entertain the children….

I’d asked the agency how the kids would be entertained during the face painting and was told…

“Each entertainer has their own special way of entertaining the kids whilst they are doing the face painting”.

Well this entertainer’s way of entertaining the kids was to turn the music off – because it was on her phone and she wanted to time her face painting – and do NOTHING to entertain the kids.

Instead she became increasingly frosty with the children as she made her way through the face painting.

Parents find a way to entertain the kids…

In the end, to do something to keep the kids amused during the face painting, my friend and my husband took matters into their own hands and started to entertain the children with games of musical statues and the hokey-cokey.

Bizarre Rock Music Moment

After the face-painting, the entertainer said she’d do a couple more ‘games’. These amounted to a couple of song things, neither of which were anything to do with the Frozen soundtrack, the second of which was some heavy rock number from the 70s, to which she started punching the air and looking like a complete loon.

This had my fellow parents at the party curling up in shocked laughter.

No balloon for the birthday girl

And to end the sorry state of affairs. The entertainer’s last job was to create balloon animals / shapes for the kids. She did this hurriedly whilst we did the cake and sang happy birthday.

When our daughter asked her for a balloon animal she said to her…

“Sorry, I don’t have time”

The only reason our daughter got her balloon creation was that my husband stepped in and pointed out that she was the birthday girl.

So, the entertainer was so unengaged with the party she couldn’t even remember who the birthday girl was. Impressive.

AEIOU REFUSED US A FULL REFUND

In total we paid £175 for 1.5 hours of entertainment, 50% ahead of the party and 50% to the entertainer on the day.

Yes, I actually handed over cash to this woman. I wasn’t going to, but having called the agency during the party to tell the agent I was appalled by the service, and that I wasn’t happy to hand over the second payment, I was advised  by the agent that I needed to pay the money and then complain to the agency in order to receive a refund.

If my brain hadn’t been so addled with stress, I would have ignored their advice and kept my money.

And I wish I had, because two weeks on from complaining to AEIOU, I have ended up with only a 50% refund. Yip, exactly the amount that I would have kept if I’d not paid the entertainer.

AEIOU Won’t Give A Full Refund If The Entertainer Shows Up

The agency insisted that their offer of a 50% refund was in-line with their Terms & Conditions.

The only issue with this being that we hadn’t been sent any Terms & Conditions at time of booking and the Terms & Conditions aren’t findable on their website.

I asked for a copy of the Terms & Conditions to be sent to me. 24 hours  later the Terms & Conditions still hadn’t arrived. I chased and was told…

“They are just coming over from our legal person”

Make of that what you will, I know what it leads me to believe.

Why I Want To Warn Other Parents About AEIOU

It takes a lot of time, care and love to put together a child’s birthday party, not to mention a lot of money.

Hiring an entertainer is a big part of the financial cost, and the entertainer is meant to be the focal point for the party.

To have created an Elsa themed party for our daughter and then have the ‘Elsa entertainer’ turn up late, shove on a dodgy wig and dirty costume over her own clothes, and then tell the expectant children…

“Elsa couldn’t make it”

… before launching into a second rate entertainment routine, RUINED our daughter’s birthday party.

In fact, the last thing our daughter said quietly to me before she went to bed that night was…

“Mummy, why didn’t Elsa come to my party?”

Which is not how I had imagined her birthday party day would end.

The poor service also ruined the party for my husband and me. Previously we’ve done the entertainment ourselves at parties, and this year we had wanted to relax and enjoy watching our daughter having fun at her party.

This was our daughter’s 5th birthday party, it was meant to be a really special and magical occasion for her. We worked really hard as parents to make it happen. We were totally let down by AEIOU and their entertainer.

A full refund would have gone some way towards recompensing us for a completely ruined party. It still wouldn’t have made up for the fact the party was ruined by the poor entertainment.

For AEIOU to apologise and say that this wasn’t their normal service, but then to go on to say that as the entertainer had shown up (eventually) it meant that they could at most refund us 50% of the fee, is belligerently missing the point that the cost to us of this sorry excuse for entertainment was far more than the fee we paid AEIOU.

So I’ll end with a warning to any other parents planning on booking an Elsa Entertainer… think really carefully about who you book and which children’s entertainment agency you go to.

Ideally go for a recommendation. In fact, if you tweet me @LuciMcQ I can share with you details of two Elsa entertainers, in the East London area,who have apparently done amazing jobs of entertaining. If only we’d known about them before we booked with AEIOU.

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

 Author: I’m Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh, co-editor of parenting blog www.mumsmakelists.com . Mums Make Lists is the number one parenting blog offering simple tips for busy mums, tried and tested by busy mums. London based, loved in the UK and USA.

Find me on Twitter @LuciMcQ

The link at the top of the post to AEIOU is a nofollow link to ensure no SEO benefits to AEIOU from this post.