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Willy Wonka-inspired experience sparks outrage and online mockery after police called to event

The warehouse was almost empty. (Jack Proctor via CNN Newsource) The warehouse was almost empty. (Jack Proctor via CNN Newsource)
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Families attending a Willy Wonka-inspired event in Glasgow, Scotland were promised “optical marvels” and “extraordinary props” for a £35 (US$44) ticket, but when they arrived they found a sparsely decorated warehouse and offered a quarter cup of lemonade — or limeade when supplies ran out.

People there became so angry on Saturday that the police were called, Police Scotland confirmed to CNN, the event was canceled, and the story went viral on social media.

“There was a crowd of people outside all furious,” Paul Connell, one of the actors hired to perform at the event told CNN on Wednesday.

“I saw people shouting, the people running the event were crying … It was absolute chaos. There were people walking all over the set at this point, control had been lost completely.”

On Facebook, organizers House of Illuminati said: “Today has been a stressful and frustrating day for many and for that we are truly sorry.”

“This was an event gone wrong,” another post said. “The house of illuminati will NOT be holding any other event in the foreseeable future.”

House of Illuminati had promoted the event with an extravagant website, filled with fantastical images and long descriptions of an “Enchanted Garden,” “Imagination Lab,” and a “Twilight Tunnel.”

The 15-page script Connell was given the day before said there were “all these special effects,” but when he asked the organizers for more information, they “kept saying don’t worry about it, do whatever you want, we’ll sort it out (on the day).”

When he showed up the next day, however, the warehouse was still “pretty much empty, except for a few plastic mushrooms,” far removed from what had been promoted.

Jack Proctor and his family were among those attending the experience, and they arrived once the event had been open for a couple of hours, he told CNN on Wednesday.

“We were met by groups of families leaving the event, looking utterly bewildered,” he said. “We were directed upstairs and arrived at a large makeshift prop gate saying ‘Factory.’ A partition blocked our view, but we could tell it wasn’t going to be good … it was even worse than anticipated.”

It took Proctor and his family three minutes to see the entirety of the experience for which he had paid a total of £95, he added, and they left shortly afterwards as security were turning people away.

“Two Oompa Loompas were handing out candy … Each kid got a jelly bean each and a lollipop, the adults were told not to touch the sweets.”

Videos posted on social media showed a figure in a cloak and mask emerging from behind a mirror, with children watching on, sounding increasingly horrified.

“Almost every child who saw him ran off crying,” Proctor said.

People swapped stories on a Facebook group set up by those who were left disappointed, one person said their children had received two jelly babies and a quarter of a can of limeade, another that their two kids “actually had fun (bless them, they’re easily pleased!).”

The actors were “mortified by the whole thing,” Connell said and “trying to make it as nice an experience as possible … but the person running the event said I was spending too much time with the kids and I needed to move them through as quickly as possible.”

CNN attempted to contact House of Illuminati for comment via the email addresses available on their website but the emails bounced back.

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