Angry parents call cops over disappointing Willy Wonka "immersive experience"

Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is a magical, colorful place with a chocolate river, edible flowers and Oopma Loompas bustling about. But a “Willy Wonka” event in Glasgow, Scotland that was billed as an immersive experience turned out to be less than stellar. In fact, when some ticket holders showed up with their kids, they called the police.

Stuart Sinclair, a dad who drove two hours with his three kids and paid $44 a ticket for the event, told CBS News’ Anne-Marie Green there wasn’t even any chocolate. “That was the worst part about it,” he said. 

He said event space was just a warehouse and they did a “very, very poor job” of decorating it. Photos that show lackluster decorations barely filling a giant warehouse have gone viral. 


Stuart Sinclair

“It was all described as a massive immersive experience, great idea for the kids, chocolate fountains … Just sounded really, really good, a nice day for the children and the family,” said Sinclair. “And when we got there, as you can see by the pictures and stuff, it just was not that at all. There were four or five props, a few jelly beans for the kids. Half a cup of lemonade. Just was not what was promised whatsoever.”

Sinclair said his oldest children found it funny and laughed it off, but his 4-year-old daughter, who was dressed as Willy Wonka for the occasion, was really disappointed. “She was telling all her teachers beforehand how she was going to meet Willy Wonka and it didn’t really pan out like that,” he said.

He said it took only five minutes to get through the experience. The actors, however, were professional, he said. 

In a now-deleted social media post, House of Illuminati, which ran the event, said: “We fully apologize for what has happened and will be giving full refunds to each and every person that purchased tickets.” 

Sinclair said he has not yet gotten a refund. 

The actor who played Willy Wonka said it was not what he was expecting either and that he was unsure if he and the other actors would be paid. “It was very disappointing to see how many people turned up at this event and found basically me dressed up as Willy Wonka in a half-abandoned warehouse,” Paul Connell told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday.

“I was offered the part on the Thursday, given 15 pages of AI-generated gibberish to learn and then obviously turned up and saw what it was,” he said. 

“The actors were furious, we’d been conned as well and it did turn quite scary at one point because people were angry,” he said. “There was lots of shouting and groups of people getting very, very irate.”

Some visitors even called the police on Saturday and the House of Illuminati cancelled the experience midway through the day after receiving complaints, BBC News reports.

Glasgow City Council’s Trading Standards department received one complaint about the event, according to BBC News. 

CBS News has reached out to House of Illuminati as well as Box Hub, which provided the event space but was not responsible for the experience, for comment and is awaiting a response.

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