A few jelly beans and a world of disappointment at the Willy Wonka event


Families across Scotland were hoping to sample chocolate delights and see “optical wonders” at a Willy Wonka-themed event in Glasgow last weekend. Instead, they received a couple of jelly beans, a short walk through a nearly empty warehouse, and a visit from police officers.

The event, Willy's Chocolate Experience, scheduled for February 24 and 25, was promised on event listing websites to include chocolate fountains, performances by Oompa Loompas and interactive experiences inspired by scenes from Roald Dahl's book “Charlie and the Factory.” of chocolate”.

One father, Stuart Sinclair, drove two hours from Dundee to take his three children to the event. “There were maybe 20 chairs, a couple of tables and a half-inflated bouncy castle,” he said.

Sinclair said she paid 35 pounds, or about $44, per ticket for her two sons, ages 10 and 11, and her daughter, 4, who was dressed in a Willy Wonka costume and had told her teachers preschooler how excited I was. to go to the event.

“The kids got two jelly beans each,” Sinclair said. “And then they gave them half a cup of lemonade.”

Families had reserved time slots to enter the venue every 15 minutes and were greeted by rows of unadorned tables and walls of black fabric separating one sparsely decorated space from another.

“As soon as they walked in the door, they were like, 'wow,' and they just shook their heads and were in total disbelief at how bad it was,” Sinclair said.

Alana Lockens, of Hamilton, said that after purchasing tickets, she noticed the event's website had been updated with a legal warning saying it was not related to the Wonka franchise, which is owned by Warner Bros. She was concerned it was a scam and at first he was relieved to arrive and see that a real event was happening.

“I can laugh about it now, but at first I thought it seemed ridiculous,” said Lockens, who went with her ex-husband, a friend and their two children. “It was very poorly done considering how much the tickets had cost us.”

Faced with crowds of disappointed families, event organizers abruptly canceled the event Saturday afternoon.

Police Scotland said officers were called after the event was cancelled, but police determined they were not needed. It was unclear who called the police.

The event's organizer, the House of Illuminati, addressed the complaints on Saturday, saying in a statement that it recognized the event was a disappointment and should have canceled it sooner. “We apologize for what happened and will provide full refunds to each and every person who purchased tickets,” the company said in a statement on its Facebook page, which has since been deleted.

The House of Illuminati did not respond to requests for comment.

The event took place at Box Hub, an events space in Glasgow.

Matt Waterfield, operations manager for Box Hub, said in an email that he was approached by the House of Illuminati in early January and that the company was entirely responsible for the marketing, promotion and operation of the event. “On Friday they dressed the premises,” he said. “The result was incredibly disappointing.”

“We fully side with the many outraged customers and truly hope that House of Illuminati will refund these families as promised,” he said.

Families who attended the experience and people hired to work on it gathered in a Facebook group to complain about what happened and discuss how it would be fixed.

Jenny Fogarty, who was hired to play Oompa Loompa, told The Scotsman that she was given a 15-page script to read the night before the event started and that she received her costume an hour before the families arrived. .

“The wigs were very cheap,” Fogarty said. “We just got a box delivered from Amazon that probably arrived that morning.”

Ms Fogarty said she was told she would be paid £16.66 an hour but had not yet been paid.

The event was marketed as immersive experiences that have appeared in cities around the world in the past two decades, such as the Museum of Ice Cream in New York and “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.”

The event's website built on that suggestion, but also hinted that the experience might be of questionable quality.

It promised “a journey full of delights, enchanting adventures and moments worth capturing,” and included elaborate, candy-colored illustrations. Those illustrations were marred by unusual phrases and misspellings, including: “a candy pass” and “exarserdray lollipops.”

Mr Sinclair said although his family were disappointed by Willy's chocolate experience, he and his children made the most of their day in Glasgow and took his daughter to make her first teddy bear at a Build-a-workshop. Bear.

Worst of all,” Sinclair said, “there was no chocolate.”

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