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What in the Willy Wonka is going on?

What was marketed as an engaging Willy Wonka experience in Glasgow, Scotland, turns into a chocolate-free disaster after families attending notice discrepancies between online images and the actual set.
An+event+that+was+marketed+as+an+immersive+Willy+Wonka+experience+for+children+ends+up+disappointing+many+attendees+in+an+event+at+Glasgow%2C+Scotland.+Many+criticized+the+use+of+an+AI-generated+photo+that+over-exaggerated+what+the+event+actually+looked+like.+Photo+used+with+permission+from+Pete+Wright+via+Unsplash.+
An event that was marketed as an immersive Willy Wonka experience for children ends up disappointing many attendees in an event at Glasgow, Scotland. Many criticized the use of an AI-generated photo that over-exaggerated what the event actually looked like. Photo used with permission from Pete Wright via Unsplash.

Come to the Willy’s Chocolate Experience in Glasgow, Scotland, and you’ll be at an event of pure aggravation.

Just as the song “Pure Imagination” – sung by Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” – proclaimed, many of the golden ticket winners in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” felt awe and wonder upon entering Wonka’s fictional chocolate factory in the book and subsequent adaptations. However, a recent Willy Wonka experience, officially called “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” in Glasgow, Scotland, was anything but “pure imagination.” 

The event followed the release of the 2023 film “Wonka,” the origin story of the popular Willy Wonka character from Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” with Timothee Chalamet starring in the titular role. Although, the experience wasn’t advertised as having any ties to the film or its studio. 

The event was described as a fully interactive experience with performances inspired by the story of Willy Wonka, and promised a day of “pure imagination” and “wonder” for all who attended. Kids and families who went dressed up in Willy Wonka costumes were instead, they claimed, treated to an unprofessional event that led to police intervention and $45 refunds issued to each ticket holder. 

The organization hosting the event, known as the House of Illuminati, promoted the experience with AI-generated images to showcase the event, using elaborative and falsified image of the actual set. The images featured a false image of Wonka with backdrops of vibrant colors and artwork akin to illustrations from books of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” 

The day of the event was Feb. 24, and within a several minutes of the event starting, angry parents who shared videos and images on social media went viral. 

The various videos and photos showed an empty warehouse space filled with dollar store quality decorations scattered accessories that looked different from the marketing materials online, 

One particular video from the event shows a mysterious character with a black cape and a silver mask. The character was referred to as “The Unknown”, described as “an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls of the factory.” The character was seen popping out from behind a mirror and scaring the children who attended. Many further criticized the presence of “The Unknown” who does not appear in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” 

Although the event was advertised as a “paradise of sweet treats,” each attendee present was given a single jelly bean, half a cup of lemonade and no chocolate. 

In “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” chocolate is an integral aspect of the candy factory. However, the only aspect close to chocolate in the Glasgow event was a thin strip of brown carpet attempting to mimic the famous chocolate river from the book.

Attendees were similarly frustrated by costumes, as the Oompa Loompas, workers at Willy’s factory, were stationed at foldable tables described by parents as an “Oompa Loompa drug lab.”

Outrage from parents for not delivering on the promise advertised led to Scotland Police intervening in riots. The parents demanded that the organizers give refunds for the event. One video surfacing social media showed Billy Coull, director of the House of Illuminati, attempting to calm down a furious crowd after the police were called. 

Even though the experience itself was a disaster for the people attended, “The Unknown” quickly circulated the internet and became a fan favorite across various social media platforms. The popularity led to an announcement by a movie studio on March 4 that “The Unknown” will receive its own horror movie released in 2024. The movie will follow a renowned illustrator and his wife, who are haunted by the death of their son Charlie. Desperate to escape their grief, they escape to the remote Scottish Highlands where an unknown evil awaits them. The movie will be produced by a Scottish-based film production company, known as Kaledonia Pictures. 

The House of Illuminati issued over 800 refunds to dissatisfied guests, and the organization indicated that they won’t be holding any more events in the foreseeable future.

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About the Contributor
Max Spiegel, Staff Writer
Max Spiegel is a junior at Green Hope High School, and this is his second year on the staff of the GHFalcon.  Max made his way to Cary from his home state of New Jersey.  When not working on stories, Max spends his time relaxing, working at AMC Theaters, and playing golf. Max prefers to work in groups as it allows for ideas to be shared and reviewed. Max became a part of the staff due to his preference to work in groups in order to openly share ideas.  By joining the staff, he wants to expand his boundaries.
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