A Willy Wonka kids’ experience in Glasgow was so terrible that people called the cops

This story is going to go down in the Internet Hall of Fame for being absolutely terrible yet completely hilarious. Last weekend, an event went down in Glasgow called “Willy’s Chocolate Experience.” Yeah, that title alone was poorly thought out and should have been the first, err, tip off. “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” was supposed to be an “immersive experience” into the world of Willy Wonka. It was marketed with gorgeous images that looked like the Candy Man’s factory. Ad copy promoted it as a journey into his world of pure imagination.

If an immersive experience into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory sounds too good to be true, that’s because it was. After spending more than $40 per ticket and expecting chocolate rivers, cream-topped mushrooms, and snozzberries that taste like snozzberries, hundreds of families experienced their own PG version of Fyre Fest. The venue was basically an empty warehouse with some low budget decorations, half-hearted performers, and no chocolate. It was so bad that people called the police, comparing it to a meth lab. Help. Police. Murder.

They’ll begin with a (marketing) spin: The U.K. event was titled Willy’s Chocolate Experience and charged customers $44 each. The attraction was not affiliated with the Warner Bros. movie Wonka, though the event’s marketing came as close as possible to suggesting it was based on author Roald Dahl’s creation. The ad copy invited fans to journey to “a universe where confectionary dreams are brought to life” that included “mind-expanding projections, optical marvels and exhibits that transport you into the realm of creativity” and “wondrous creations and enchanting surprises at every turn!”

What compares with pure A.I. creations: The event organizers apparently used artificial intelligence to generate promotional images that suggested a very high-quality attraction, which looked just like the immersive and trippy Wonka-esque world that the ad copy promised. But the result was somewhat different, and ticket buyers needed pure imagination to think it looked anything like a fantastical chocolate factory.

You get nothing! As reported by The Guardian, customers showed up in Glasgow to find “a sparsely decorated warehouse with a scattering of plastic props, a small bouncy castle and some backdrops pinned against the walls.” Scotland police were even called to the scene, the event shut down and parents said their children were in tears. All the event lacked was a man in top hat telling customers: “You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”

Candy wasn’t dandy: Of course, one could argue that a Willy Wonka-inspired event that ended with angry parents and crying children is more authentic to Dahl’s novel than any of the recent Wonka movies. The Guardian added that event organizers refunded tickets and apologized for the “very stressful and frustrating day,” telling customers, “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 have cancelled first thing this morning instead.”

And so shines a good apology in a weary world.

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

Okay, first off, I absolutely need to give credit to THR reporter who wrote that final line, “And so shines a good apology in a weary world.” Outstanding call back, sir. Also, lmao at the point about a Wonka-inspired event ending with angry parents and crying children being true to the source material. I mean, hat’s off.

But yeah, holy sh–t, on a scale of Fyre Fest to George Santos, this one was a doozy. I know it’s probably not funny to the people who got scammed by it (which I admit, I easily could have been), but I am dyyying reading all of the news about how outstandingly terrible this was. There are pictures and videos all over social media. To me, it looked like a Wonka experience set up in a middle school gymnasium, with sets and props made by students for a PTA fundraiser. WaPo reported that kids were given “two jelly beans and half a cup of lemonade” to fulfill the candy portion of the event and there was no chocolate! I mean, the chutzpah is admirable. And yes, I know that this really highlights the need for some sort of A.I. regulation to protect consumers from being scammed, but they had so much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that, reverse it.

photos via Twitter

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

35 Responses to “A Willy Wonka kids’ experience in Glasgow was so terrible that people called the cops”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Christine says:

    This entire debacle has been the comedy gold my mental health didn’t know it needed. By the time Twitter linked Kate Middleton to this, I had rivers of tears from laughing so hard!

    Every now and then the universe knows we are collectively at our wits end, and we get something like this.

    • Sasha says:

      OMG how did they link it to Kate? Details please!!

      • Pinkosaurus says:

        People were photoshopping Kate into the pictures like “there’s the missing Princess!” Aw sometimes social media really comes through.

      • Schrodinger's Kate says:

        The event coordinators clearly used what was left of Party Pieces inventory to decorate the warehouse??

      • Sasha says:

        @Pinkosaurus Hahahaha thank you!

        @Schrodinger’s Kate Yes, yes, yes! Looooool! I’m combusting with laughter.

  2. Jais says:

    Just 2 jellybeans😂. Lordy, if they’d at least had some chocolate for the kids, the cops maaaaybe wouldn’t have been called.

  3. Bad Janet says:

    This is how I felt after I signed up for one of those 5k “foam runs.” Paid $50 to wait an hour to in line for four stupid “foam cannons”. Two were out of foam by the time I got there. It was my first and last gimmick race.

  4. Charfromdarock says:

    I feel bad for the kids and the parents who were scammed.

    But that picture of that sad Oompa Loompa lady makes me giggle every time I see it.

    • lanne says:

      That poor Oompa Loompa lady looks like she got stood up for a date, and decided to take a last-minute shift at work to at least make a little money and salvage the night. She’s got disappointment all over her face.

      What’s she supposed to be doing as a solo Oompa Loompa, anyway? It’s like the question: what’s the minimum number of people you need to form a mob–what’s the minimum number of Oompa Loompas needed for a chocolate factory tour? Can two people form a mob by themselves? Can one Oompa Loompa sing and dance and entertain? What does a solo Oompa Loompa say, anyway? “Sorry, all my brothers and sisters have indigestion from eating too many cocao beans, so I’m here representing them all! Oom-pa Loom-pa doopity do–“

  5. Meredith says:

    still better than dashcon lol

  6. At says:

    This is the best thing I’ve ever read I can’t stop laughing

  7. Sum says:

    I’m glad that a you also included a smiling picture of the oompa loompa. I felt bad for her because everyone else is only including the startled picture.

    I understand that’s a lot of space to fill but goodness. A whole $44 pounds for that. The kids can’t even run around because that looks like concrete.

  8. Sasha says:


  9. Abby says:

    As a writer/copywriter, it’s the typos in the ad copy that get me. How did this pass muster in promoting this event? In an English-speaking country?? The whole thing is a mess, and so funny. “Fyre Fest for children” for sure. 😆

  10. Shoegirl77 says:

    Reminds me of all the 80s and 90s Irish kids who would go on school tours all excited to visit the chocolate factory. Which is the Ferrero packing/ manufacturing plant in my home city.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That actually sounds like fun! Were there are least samples at the end? I remember going to the pear-packing plant at Harry & David. The most memorable thing from that trip was a guy getting his pony tail stuck in the overhead conveyor belt thingie & having to take several steps along with it as he yanked at his pony tail to get free.
      And no, no free pears.

      • Ocean Girl says:

        I had an ice cube in my mouth and I nearly inhaled it. Can’t stop giggling at this!

  11. MinorityReport says:

    I know I’m awful, but I have been laughing so hard at this that I’m crying. WEEPING with laughter. 😂

  12. ML says:

    We vacationed in the UK last summer: Scotland is not as well off as other parts of the UK. It really sucks that someone thought up a “great” idea to defraud parents and children like this!

    • Escanda says:

      I’m sorry but this comment is quite ignorant. I live in Scotland, and like the whole of the U.K., there are parts that are well off, and parts that aren’t.

    • Fifee says:

      Another offended person here. Im Scottish, lived in a deprived area of Glasgow most of my life until I moved in with my partner. That area had some of the best people I’ve ever met, friendly and would give you the shirt of their back if you were cold. Next door to it is 3 of the wealthiest areas of Glasgow, houses going for £1million. Everywhere is the same, poor and wealthy areas abutting one another. To say that as a nation we are poor is misinformed. I don’t know which areas you visited but no doubt Edinburgh and the Highlands which yes has slightly poorer areas due to funding and lack of available jobs. If you visited Glasgow it’s a bit of a tip at the moment with services being slashed due to financial issues just like every other council in Britain.

      I now live in rural France and that is poor. But this isn’t the France you will travel to so you don’t see that, you only see the glitz of Paris (which is just as poor if not poorer in some areas or the glamour of nice and the Côte d’Azur. So every country has financial problems not just Scotland

    • ML says:

      Escanda and Fifee, I’m sorry you feel like I’ve attacked your beautiful country. We absolutely enjoyed our time in England, Wales, and Scotland last summer, and I agree that the Scottish were the most friendly and welcoming. However, when we travelled, I could not help but notice that the roads are less repaired, many stores are empty and the supermarkets were sometimes poorly equipped more so than in other areas we visited. That doesn’t mean that Scotland is wallowing in poverty all over, but the impression it leaves is that it’s less well off than other parts of the UK.

  13. SIde Eye says:

    Omg this story is so crazy! What cracks me up is they called the police lol. This reminds me of the 4 year old in Ontario that called 911 when he got snow pants as a Christmas gift. It really does look a bit like Walter White’s makeshift meth lab…

  14. LolaCat says:

    @read_receipts on IG has the best round up of tweets about this. I was dying yesterday. I need Jordan Peele to make a movie about this.

  15. Digital Unicorn says:

    First off, am Scottish and from the Glasgow area so this cracked me up all day. I feel sorry for the families who spent their hard earned money on this but what did they expect a) for the price of £35 and b) given that it was in a deprived area of Glasgow that is not easy to get to if you don’t have a car – the red flags were all there. Seems the organisers tried to pull a fast one by keeping the event going in an effort to keep the money but given how it has taken off on SM they really have no choice but to give everyone a refund.

    The ‘spotted Kate Middleton’ at the event meme’s were gold.

    • Jane says:

      Me too! I get such a kick out of Celebitchy covering this. I can’t believe how far it’s spread.

    • Christine says:

      This set me off so much more than the BBL memes about Kitty. Something about the missing princess and this chocolate-less Willy Wonka failure has hit just right, for me.

  16. Kitten says:

    Pisses me off that they called the police but maybe it’s normal in the UK for angry parents to divert emergency personnel away from, you know, real emergencies because they felt “scammed”.

    • Lucky Charm says:

      I read that the police were called by the people who showed up later. Since they didn’t know why it had suddenly closed when their tickets clearly showed it was supposed to be open, .

  17. BeanieBean says:

    Should have cancelled that morning? Shades of Bully Idle. Should have postponed by several months. If this had been a sincere effort, I’d feel bad that people are dunking all over this; but if this were supposed to be an immersive experience as advertised—in this modern day of actual immersive experiences–then I don’t feel so bad for them. Dunk away.

    • Rosie says:

      My theory is that they thought they could pull one over on people and get away with it. The fact that the cops got called and it blew up on social media was completely unexpected.

  18. Flamingo says:

    Somewhere in the world Billy McFarland is sitting back and having a good laugh.

    • Christine says:

      No, he conned celebrities into making ads for Fyre, so people bought plane tickets from all over the world, only to be trapped in what amounts to a portable toilet, with no food and no way to get out.

  19. Martha says:

    I feel sorry for that poor young woman featured in many of the photos. She had nothing to do with the organizing and was just hired for the gig. Now she’s become the face for it.