$45 Willy Wonka Experience 'Delivered a Nightmare'

Families disappointed by 'scattering of plastic props,' while others were turned away
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2024 7:21 AM CST

Families who purchased tickets to the Willy Wonka "immersive experience" inspired by the film Wonka were told to expect a "chocolate fantasy like never before"—a "journey filled with wondrous creations and enchanting surprises at every turn." But the promised giant mushrooms, chocolate fountains, and audio and visual effects were apparently nonexistent in the Scottish city of Glasgow, where police were called to a warehouse Saturday by angry parents demanding refunds. One attendee said organizers "sold a dream and delivered a nightmare," per Sky News. Ticketholders arrived to find "a sparsely decorated warehouse with a scattering of plastic props, a small bouncy castle and some backdrops pinned against the walls," reports the Guardian.

One attendee described a "disorganized mini-maze of randomly placed oversized props, a lackluster candy station that dispersed one jelly bean per child, and a terrifying chrome-masked character that scared many of the kids to tears," per the Independent. A man hired to play Willy Wonka confirms actors were told to give each child "one jelly bean and a quarter cup of lemonade." He notes there was "no chocolate at the chocolate experience." The complaints were enough that the organizers at the London-based House of Illuminati canceled the two-day event within hours of opening. But ticketholders continued to show up, unaware the event had closed.

A woman who arrived with her 8-year-old daughter learned the event was canceled from other ticketholders milling about. "But there wasn't any notice at the door or on the website," she tells the BBC. "We were just staying talking with people, others arriving and arriving and the crowd became angrier." Some had traveled significant distances and demanded travel costs be refunded in addition to the $45 ticket price. Police were ultimately called to dispatch advice. In a statement, House of Illuminati apologized and said ticket costs would be refunded within 10 days. "We planned a fabulous event and it just did not take shape as planned and for that we are truly sorry," it said. "[We] tried our best to continue on and push through and now realize we probably should have cancelled first thing." (More Willy Wonka stories.)

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