Willy Wonka-themed event cancelled after angry parents call police

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Lasting just one day, an event called Willy’s Chocolate Experience in Glasgow was cancelled following complaints from parents and a visit from the police.

Doubtless an attempt to cash in on the $600m (and counting) success of last year’s Wonka, a live event calling itself a ‘Willy’s Chocolate Experience’ has been cancelled following complaints from angry visitors.

Based in Glasgow, the event began and ended on the 24th February, and was previously described as a “place where chocolate dreams become reality.”

What visitors discovered, however, was a bleak-looking warehouse with a concrete floor and a handful of confectionery-themed sculptures, including an outsize chocolate bar and some psychedelic-looking mushrooms. BBC News has a number of photos from the event, provided by visitor Eva Stewart, and they make the place look more like something out of Children Of Men than anything Roald Dahl dreamt up.

“When we got there,” Stewart told BBC Scotland News, “it was practically an abandoned, empty warehouse, with hardly anything in it.”

Look at the event’s website (via CultureCrave on Twitter), which is currently live at the time of writing, and it’s easier to see why visitors were fooled. The site describes attractions with names like Enchanted Garden (“giant sweets, vibrant blooms, mysterious looking sculptures…”) and Imagination Lab (“mind-expanding projections, optical marvels… will leave you spellbound!”).

These descriptions are joined by images that were very obviously AI-generated, however, with their faintly queasy illustrations including the kinds of weird typos you often get when you ask generative AI software to knock up a poster. One image advertises something called “Cargacating” and “Cartchy tuns” and “exarserdray lollipops.”

Catgacating! Credit: House of Illuminati.

Tickets for the event, which took place at Box Hub Warehouse, were said to have cost £35 or more. Little surprise, then, that families who turned up on that grey Saturday were angered by what they found – BBC Scotland News reports that kids were crying and parents were angrily demanding refunds.

The anger was such that the police were called, and the event’s organisers, a London-based company called House of Illuminati, was forced to cancel the whole thing by around lunchtime that Saturday.

In a statement published on Facebook, a representative from House of Illuminati wrote, “Today has been a very stressful and frustrating day for many and for that we are truly sorry. Unfortunately, at the 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 have cancelled first thing this morning instead.”

The company has said it will provide “full refunds” to those who bought tickets. It doesn’t explain why it used AI-generated images to illustrate the event rather than photographs.

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