This Glasgow Willy Wonka Event Was a World of Pure Fabrication

Photos: Warner Bros. Pictures (left), Elaine Wyper [via Facebook] (right)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Feb 27, 2024

A Willy Wonka-themed event touted as a “journey filled with wondrous creations and enchanting surprises” turned out to be anything but sweet, leaving families fuming after things weren't nearly as whimsical as advertised.

Multiple outlets report that police were called to a venue in Glasgow Saturday (February 24) to answer complaints from those attending the £35-per-person (about $60 CAD) "Willy's Chocolate Experience" event, which was abruptly cancelled halfway through its first day.

Held at the Box Hub warehouse, "Willy's Chocolate Experience" was organized by an event promotion company called House of Illuminati, clearly looking to ride the coattails of last year's well-received Wonka — the latest film adaptation of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Timothée Chalamet.

An event website promised attendees an "Enchanted Garden" of giant-sized sweets, an "Imagination Lab" with "mind-expanding projections" and "optical marvels," and the "heart-pounding experience" of a "Twilight Tunnel."

Instead, what attendees found upon arrival amounts to Fyre Festival for young children and families. Photos shared on social media from those who made it inside show hastily hung set dressings, randomly placed props and a "refreshments" table serving the feel of a urology lab.

Following backlash, organizers cancelled the event only hours after opening, but failed to inform those who had travelled further distances to attend.




Paul Connell, an actor hired for the event, told Scotland's STV News, "My heart sank. It was — it wasn't even like fear. I just felt sad because I was aware of how many kids were going to be coming through. And like, just looking around the place and just being like, 'this is… this is terrible.' Like, you know, we were told to hand the kids like, a couple of jelly beans and a quarter cup of lemonade at the end."

The website for "Willy's Chocolate Experience" should have been the biggest clue that the planned event could sour. Each billed attraction features imagery which appears to be AI-generated, and while titles like "Imagination Lab" and "Twilight Tunnel" are dutifully trademarked in Official Business Fashion™, the spelling mistakes littered throughout — "encherining entertainment," "exarserdray lollipops" "a pasadise of sweet teats" — are hard to ignore. A "reveal FAQs" button does no such thing, and it seems a media partner for the event will forever be "coming soon."

Head to House of Illuminati's official website, and it's a similar scene, with a load of schlocky, generative visuals and every last buzzword imaginable relating to "extraordinary events & immersive experiences."

In a post via Facebook, an admin for House of Illuminati's wrote that "last minute we were let down in many areas of our event and tried our best to continue on and push through and now realise we probably should havd [sic] cancelled first thing this morning instead.

"We fully apologise for what has happened and will be giving full refunds to each and every person that purchased tickets."

Read Exclaim!'s review of Wonka.



Latest Coverage