This Immersive Willy Wonka Experience Fell Hilariously Flat, Leaving Visitors Outraged

Forget raspberries, visitors gave snozzberries to this cheesy Wonka knock-off in Glasgow.

A screen grab from House of Illuminati's website.

The promoters of an immersive Willy Wonka experience in Glasgow got in hot water with visitors after the reality didn’t live up to the A.I.-generated images they had used to lure people in. Social media lit up with photos of a pathetically underwhelming warehouse, sparsely decorated with a few sets that don’t remotely recall the richly decorated sets of the beloved 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (or the imagery of the 1964 Roald Dahl novel it was based on).

On their website (since removed), the organizers, under the name “House of Illuminati,” reportedly promised “cartchy tuns,” “exarserdray lollipops,” and “a pasadise of sweet teats” (typos theirs). But one parent told the Independent that when she and her kids arrived, after paying £35, or about $44, per ticket, she was greeted with 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.”

Comedian Paul Connell told the the Independent that he played Wonka in the experience, and that “the script was 15 pages of A.I.-generated gibberish of me just monologuing these mad things.”

By the time the event was shut down, Connell said, “the set had been trashed.”

“There were kids in costume better than ours, crying,” Connell told the paper. “I used to be a teacher and that was triggering for me.” Connell had been ordered to rush the kids through, and said that rather than chocolate, visitors received a quarter cup of lemonade and exactly one jellybean. 

“In some ways, it was a world of imagination, like imagine that there is a whole chocolate factory here,” he said.

Police were summoned to the scene as outraged ticket buyers lobbied for refunds.

Organizer Billy Coull, the director of House of Illuminati, told STV News: “I’m really shocked that the event had fallen short of the expectations of people on paper.” He closed down the display on Saturday after offering refunds to the 850 ticket-buyers.

“My vision of the artistic rendition of a well-known book didn’t come to fruition,” he said. “For that, I am absolutely truly and utterly sorry.”

In the original tale, the eccentric chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka invites a group of children who have found golden tickets in their chocolate bars to a tour of his glorious factory. While the children in the film are punished for their own greed, the victims of the House of Illuminati just wanted a good immersive experience. What’s so wrong with that?

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