Website Crashes as Fans Clamor for Tickets to Banksy’s Dystopian Disneyland–Dismaland

How many jokes is Banksy playing on us?

The Dismaland map. Photo: Banksy.

Today marked the opening day of Dismaland, Banksy’s twisted take on Disney amusement parks. The anonymous street artist kept the ambitious project tightly under wraps until earlier this week, when rumors of the cynical art installation finally began to leak.

The creepy fairgrounds are built on the grounds of the old Tropicana, an abandoned outdoor swimming pool in a small seaside town in South West England.

It is fair to say the secret show is Banksy’s way of pulling a Beyoncé? The public is already going crazy for Dismaland, with hundreds lining up for today’s “locals only” day, and thousands more are struggling to buy tickets online.

Featuring work by nearly 60 artists, Dismaland is “a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism. A place where you can get your counterculture easily available over the counter,” Banksy told the Guardian in a rare interview. “A theme park for the disenfranchised, with franchises available.”

In addition to contributing ten new works of his own, Banksy has recruited from both the street art and fine art worlds, with the likes of Jenny Holzer, Damien Hirst, and David Shrigley joining street artists such as Bäst, Espo, and Escif.

“If you’re the kind of person who feels jaded by the over-corporate blandness that passes for family light entertainment, then this is the bespoke leisure opportunity that will connect with your core brand dynamic,” Banksy told the Guardian.

It’s an interesting sales pitch, and apparently one that a lot of people can relate to: A spokesperson for the artist told BBC News that the Dismaland website, which has been offline for much of the day, has already received six million hits.

In typical Banksy fashion, the terrible ticketing experience is leaving fans wondering if technical difficulties are truly to blame, or if this is just part of the artist’s subversive sense of humor.

Dystopian attractions include a twisted take on a merry-go-round, with a sinister, machete-wielding butcher preparing to chop up a carousel horse hanging from a pair of chains; a scummy pond with a glitchy Princess Ariel statue perched on a rock; and the showstopping, derelict, burned-out version of Cinderella’s Castle.

The anonymous street artist also spoke to the inherent contradictions at play in the voracious market for his work. “Graffiti is an important and valid art form; it would be a shame if it was killed by venture capitalism,” he noted, calling the removal and sale of his guerrilla artworks “unhealthy” for the art form.

“I think a museum is a bad place to look at art; the worst context for art is other art,” Banksy added.

The Dismaland exhibition will also include late night DJ sets on Saturdays, a comedy night on September 11, and a concert featuring Pussy Riot and Massive Attack on September 25—assuming anyone can actually get tickets.

Where Disneyland is the undisputed “happiest place on earth,” the Banksy-curated counterpart just might be the most ironic.

Banksy’s “Dismaland” is on view in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, August 21–September 27, 2015.

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