What went wrong with the widely shared Willy Wonka experience?

“The place where chocolate dreams become reality” was how it was advertised. The website for last weekend’s “Willy’s Chocolate Experience” in Glasgow showcased bright pictures of dream worlds with sweets as the theme. It featured a “Imagination Lab,” a “Twilight Tunnel,” and a “Enchanted Garden,” all of which were references to the Roald Dahl character and the most current Wonka film. The promise of “surprises at every turn” drew hundreds of parents to an event where tickets could cost up to £35.


A Whiteinch industrial area was characterized as “little more than an abandoned, empty warehouse” by eager families who arrived there. A few ashamed performers attempted to make the most of a bouncy castle and some depressing-looking accessories. There were none of the “chocolatey delights” or chocolate fountains that had been promised. Instead, kids were given a modest allotment of jelly beans and a half-cup of lemonade.


Police were called as tempers flared. The event was abruptly cancelled within hours, preventing some families from entering at all. The event planners were House of Illuminati, an organization that specializes in “crafting extraordinary experiences” according to their website. According to its Companies House record, Billy Coull is the sole director of this limited liability company. Actors involved in the Wonka event told BBC Scotland that the man in the video that went viral on social media last week is Mr. Coull. As he attempted to appease irate parents outside the event, he was surrounded by security personnel; one woman accused him of having “scammed children”.

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