Customers who paid up to $500 to attend a private New Year's Eve party are demanding refunds, describing a night of hour-long toilet queues, greasy food, alcohol shortages and Justin Bieber music on repeat.
NYE Above the Harbour: 'Better off staying home'
David Smith spent $500 for a VIP table at the Sydney NYE Above the Harbour event to find patrons leaving the venue for McDonalds due to the queues.
The Sydney NYE Above the Harbour event promised "a relaxed, stress-free NYE in beautiful surrounds".
For the first time, an entire section of the Royal Botanic Gardens was reserved for more than 3000 paying guests to enjoy views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Promoters Mothership Media advertised "five star" bars and food supplied by the Shangri-la Hotel, including a "dessert garden" stocked by a celebrated pastry chef.
But many patrons found the Above the Harbour party distinctly below par.
"We spent most of the night lining up," said David Smith, who paid $500 for VIP table service only to find there was none. "It took 1½ hours to 1¾ hours to get anything." People left the venue to get McDonald's because it was quicker than waiting in line, he said.
The food itself received numerous complaints.
"Brisket sliders tasted like paper with a very cold bread roll," Geraldine Parino Montejo said on Facebook. "Asian noodles we got tasted burnt, no one can eat that crap! Smoked chicken legs are not even cooked inside, inviting salmonella..."
One patron said the dessert stall offered only fruit skewers and popcorn. "I feel like I've been mugged by Scott Morrison," Paul Harper-Jones said.
Happy New Year Sydney!
Sydney welcomes in 2016 with a spectacular fireworks display across the harbour. (Vision courtesy ABC News)
Then there were the toilet queues. "People pissing anywhere they could because you only had the bare minimum portable toilets," Jason Littlewood said.
Several partygoers described missing out on time with relatives from overseas due to the long lines.
"The music was also bloody horrible!" Chris Lee said. "The speakers closest to the Opera House kept cutting out and you were playing the same Bieber song over and over again."
Other descriptions of the event included "highway robbery", "a broken promise", "a total shambles" and "just awful". The site's view appeared to be one aspect of the night that lived up to expectations.
Tickets cost $395 for general admission and $495 for reserved seats plus booking fees.
Mr Smith, who paid for the more expensive ticket, was among those on Facebook demanding organisers refund the ticket costs. Feeling "totally ripped off", he said he would also make a formal complaint. Others online have discussed hiring lawyers to take the event organisers to court.
The promoter behind the night, Mothership Media, is behind other major events including Stereosonic music festival and Sydney's Vivid Festival. They have also been a part of the city's Chinese New Year parade.
A statement released on behalf of Mothership Media and the Shangri-la on Friday, said they would be responding to individual complaints about the night.
"The Shangri La Hotel was invited by Mothership Media to cater for the 'above the harbour' event on New Year's Eve at the Botanical Gardens," the statement said.
"There has been some negative feedback from some guests about the event including the food and beverage service, the part of the event the hotel was involved in."
The promoters and the hotel said they were still investigating what had occurred on Thursday night and would make another statement "in due course".
with Nick Ralston