An example photo picturing the Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience.

Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience

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Updated Mar 01, 2024 at 02:15PM EST by Adam.

Added Feb 27, 2024 at 12:34PM EST by Adam.

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Related Explainer: What Was The Sad Glasgow 'Willy Wonka Experience' And Who's 'Billy Coull'? The Disastrous Event Explained

Overview

Glasgow Willy Wonka Experience refers to a Willy Wonka-themed event held in Glasgow, Scotland that went viral in late February 2024 for the perception that it severely under-delivered on its promised attractions, as photos of the event showed a mostly bare warehouse with sparse, Wonka-themed decorations. On social media, the event inspired memes and was widely mocked and compared to similar conventions like Dashcon.

Background

Glasgow's "Willy Wonka Experience," organized by a group called House of Illuminati, was scheduled to take place on February 24th, 2024. Ahead of the event, the organizers used AI-generated art to advertise the event on a website.[1] AI-created flyers were also notably littered with typos, promising "Encherining Entertainment," "Cartchy Tuns," "Exarserdray Lollipops," etc. (shown below). Tickets cost £35.


ENCHERINING ENTERTAINMENT Catgacating. live performances. Cartchy tuns, exarserdray lollipops, a pasadise of sweet teats. Practical info Date: From 24 FEBUARY 2024 - 25 FEBUARY 2024 Duration: 45 minutes/1 hour Location: Box Hub Warehouse, Glasgow! willyschocolateexperience.com IMAGNATION LAB TEAU

On February 24th, 2024, the event opened to the public, but it quickly turned into a disaster. Halfway through the day, House of Illuminati canceled the event in response to angry customer complaints,[2] leaving some potential attendees unable to enter, and the police were reportedly called to deal with customers demanding refunds (seen below).



Developments

A Facebook group[3] called "house of illuminati scam" launched after the event as attendees commiserated on their disappointment with the event and discussed securing refunds. On February 26th, 2024, the event was covered by the BBC[2] and other news publications, which included photographs taken from the event, showing it was mostly a barren warehouse sparsely populated with Wonka-themed decorations (examples shown below). Several of these pictures were originally posted in the Facebook group.


4000 SHEET All WI

As the disastrous event was covered by major news outlets, coverage of the Willy Wonka Experience began spreading via viral social media posts. On February 26th, Twitter / X user @AlsikkanTV[4] tweeted about the event, gaining over 18,000 retweets and 183,000 likes in one day (shown below).


Chris Alsikkan @AlsikkanTV apparently this was sold as a live Willy Wonka Experience but they used all Al images on the website to sell tickets and then people showed up and saw this and it got so bad people called the cops Imao 4:55 PM. Feb 26, 2024 DIC

One particular photo that attracted jokes online was of an actor playing an Oompa Loompa at a supposed candy-making factory. On February 27th, 2024, Twitter user @disappoptimism[5] joked that the actor looked like "she’s running a literal meth lab and is seriously questioning the life choices up until this point," gaining over 3,000 retweets and 45,000 likes in a matter of hours (shown below).


bo Disappointed Optimist @disappoptimism The Oompa Loompa from the knock off Wonka land experience looks like she's running a literal meth lab and is seriously questioning the life choices up until this point. If you scripted this, I would say it was too on the nose 5 : 去

Others compared the Willy Wonka Experience to fictional and real-life event disasters. For example, on February 27th, Twitter user @brie___yonce[6] tweeted a comparison to Dashcon, gaining 18 retweets and 73 likes in four hours (shown below).


Brie @Brie__yonce Dashcon walked so wonka experience could run :

The same day, user @kennyroysgrammy[7] posted a comparison between the event and an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants in which Mr. Krabs puts on a scam-like attraction for children, gaining over 20 retweets and 120 likes in a similar timeframe (shown below).


The Unknown

Video from the event showed a "villainous" creature known as "The Unknown," and is shown scaring children to the point of tears in a viral clip (shown below). The character was reportedly created because the script for the day was AI-generated.



Information about the event was discussed by Paul Connell, the actor hired to play Wonka, on TikTok (shown below). In his explanation, Connell discusses how the script for the event was AI-generated, and that children were not given chocolate but instead a single jelly bean and a glass of lemonade.

@paulconnellcomedy I was an actor at the #willyschocolateexperience in #glasgow this weekend and here is the first of 3 clips of me talking about it. #willywonka #houseofilluminati #willy #glasgownews #willywonkaglasgow #chocolatefactory #actor #glasgowtiktok #stvnews #bbcnews #bbcscotland #willywonkaexperience ♬ original sound – Paul Connell


Billy Coull

After the incident went viral, the director of House of Illuminati was identified as Billy Coull,[8] who has also published multiple AI-generated novels. In a statement covered by the Daily Mail, House of Illuminati promised that they would give refunds to all participants. The statement reads:

'Today has been a very stressful and frustrating day for many and for that we are truly sorry.
'Unfortunately 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 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.
'We planned a fabulous event and it just did not take shape as planned and for that we are truly sorry we are devastated at how this has turned out and understand people's anger and frustration that everyone has had, refunds have already started being issued and the rest should be over the coming days, again we are truely [sic] sorry to everyone.'

Paul Connell Grooming Allegation

On February 29th, 2024 TikToker annalouiselewis accused "Wonka" actor Paul Connell of grooming her, engaging in a romantic relationship when she was a student of his at drama school. She claims when they started dating, she was 22 and he was 16. Once their relationship went public, she claimed she was kicked out of the school. Pictures fro 2015, when the relationship allegedly took place, on Instagram.

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