'Nightmare’ Willy Wonka Experience Leaves Children in Tears — and Prompts Families to Call the Police

"Willy's Chocolate Experience" was described online as "immersive" and promised to "create lasting memories" for guests

<p>SWNS</p> The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow


The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow
  • Police in Scotland were called Sunday by unhappy guests who attempted to attend the "Willy's Chocolate Experience" in Glasgow

  • Photos from the event showing the pitiful conditions have since gone viral online

  • House of Illuminati, which organized the event, has issued an apology and claimed it will issue refunds

An event based on one of Roald Dahl's most beloved books that promised “a day filled with laughter, joy, and the irresistible allure of chocolate” was anything but that for attendees.

The "Willy's Chocolate Experience" — a Willy Wonka-themed event — was depicted in online advertisements as “immersive" and promised to “create lasting memories and redefine what it means to step into a world of pure imagination.”

The event, organized by the London-based House of Illuminati, was supposed to feature “whimsical performances” and “surprises at every turn” as part of “a celebration of chocolate in all its delightful forms.”

Guests paid £35 (about $45) to attend Sunday’s event in Glasgow, according to SWNS and the BBC. But when they arrived, they were shocked to find it was nothing like it was described.

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Images from the event, which have since gone viral, show what appears to be a large warehouse with decorations sparsely placed throughout the room. The space was nothing like what organizers promoted, both on their website and social media.

Jenny Fogarty, an actor who was hired to play an Oompa Loompa, claimed she received a 15-page script the night before the event, according to SWNS. Her costume was the “sexy” version of an Oompa Loompa, not the kid-friendly version she anticipated.

Paul Connell, another actor hired for the event, told STV News, said his “heart sank” when he saw the state of the facility, according to The Guardian. “I just felt sad because I was aware of how many kids were going to be coming through,” he added.

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Families were indeed upset. Online, one attendee said organizers “sold a dream and delivered a nightmare,” according to Sky News.

Aileen Butcher told the event “was pathetic” and took “a minute to walk through” she also said some kids “were crying” and that the atmosphere was “tense.”

Police were even called to the event by angry guests, according to The Guardian and the BBC.

Yulia Burns told the BBC said “the crowd became angrier” as they began to realize the event was not what they expected. She said they “never had a chance to get inside.”

<p>SWNS</p> The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow


The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow

Some of the images used to promote the event appear to be generated by artificial intelligence technology.

One image on the booking site features a number of nonsense words such as “cartchy tuns” (which likely were supposed to be “catchy tunes,” which were said to be part of the experience), “sweet teats” (likely meant to be “sweet treats”), “catgacating” (likely meant to be “cascading”) and “exaserdray.”

House of Illuminati appears to have started promoting the event in mid-December 2023. In a description of the event on Facebook, the organizers said the experience was “designed for families and children” to enjoy.

The booking site promoted attractions such as an Enchanted Garden, an Imagination Lab and Twilight Tunnel. House of Illuminati said the space would be filled with “giant mushrooms filled with sweets, colossal lollipops, and candy canes that seem to touch the sky.”

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But that is not what the guests got. Instead of various sweet treats, families said they received a handful of candy, per the reports.

Also, in small print at the bottom of the booking site, House of Illuminati says “any resemblance to any character, fictitious or living, is purely coincidental” and that the experience “is in no way related to the Wonka franchise, which is owned by the Warner Bros. company.”

House of Illuminati issued an apology for the “stressful and frustrating day,” according to SWNS. The organizers claimed they were “let down in many areas of our event” at the last minute “and tried our best to continue on and push through.”

"We planned a fabulous event and it just did not take shape as planned,” House of Illuminati said, “and for that we are truly sorry we are devastated at how this has turned out.”

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The organizers acknowledged guests’ “anger and frustration” and said refunds “have already started being issued.” House of Illuminati shared a Facebook post that also claimed, in part, that refunds are being processed. PEOPLE cannot currently confirm those claims.

The organizers did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Eva Stewart, of East Kilbride, told the BBC she has heard "absolutely nothing" from House of Illuminati and is “not very hopeful” about receiving a refund.

Matthew Waterfield, operations manager at the Box Hub Warehouse where the event was held, said the venue was not responsible for the promotions surrounding the experience, per the report.

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