Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.

The Viral Willy Wonka Experience Disaster Keeps Getting More Hysterically Horrifying

A low-stakes, chocolate-covered scandal is currently delighting all corners of the Internet. I speak of course of the hilarious disaster that is Willy’s Chocolate Experience.

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The “immersive” experience lured people in with AI-generated images and then left them with nothing more than a half-decorated warehouse and some unhappy Oompa-Loompas. Images from the Glasgow-based event have been circulating around social media for two days now and they are amazing.

The event was put on by a very dodgy company called House of Illuminati, and suddenly its seemingly sole employee Billy Coull is in hot water. (Hot chocolate?)

Among the tears of laughter at how this could have gone so wrong, journalists have tracked down a few of the people who were tricked into giving their time and energy to this clusterfudge. One of them was the event’s actual Willy Wonka, a comedian named Paul Connell, and this man has clearly seen things no human was ever meant to see. His interview with The Independent will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a really, really bad first day of work:

“The script was 15 pages of AI-generated gibberish of me just monologuing these mad things.

“The bit that got me was where I had to say, ‘There is a man we don’t know his name. We know him as the Unknown. This Unknown is an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls.’

“It was terrifying for the kids. Is he an evil man who makes chocolate or is the chocolate itself evil?

“They even misspelt my contract but I do have a legally binding ‘Coontract’ [sic]. But I stayed up all night learning it, thinking this would make sense in the dress rehearsal when I see all the tech.”

There was no tech. There was however an actor playing “the Unknown” and footage of him terrifying the small children at the event has to be seen to be believed:

Connell went on to say that there was no chocolate at the event and that he was told to give each child “one jelly bean and a quarter cup of lemonade.” At another point, he was told he had to “suck up” the Unknown with a vacuum cleaner (how?!), but there was no vacuum cleaner to be found.

“It’s a night I’ll try to forget. Sadly, not only will I remember it, everyone I know will remember it too,” he concluded.

Unpaid actors

Elsewhere, the “depressed Oompa-Loompa” from one of the most reposted viral images broke her silence, and yes, she was every bit as unhappy as the image indicates. Kirsty Paterson told the Mail Online that she was supposed to be handing out jellybeans, but she “walked off scene because I was so embarrassed.” And a second Oompa-Loompa said that her job that day was apparently to look sexy?!

“The costumes that were given on the morning were like hen night [bachelorette party] kind of sexy Oompa Loompa costumes. It was only just lucky that we were all wearing tights. We weren’t told anything to bring. When we asked about costumes, we were told oh we have costumes. We weren’t told to bring a T-shirt to wear underneath because they’re quite revealing or anything like that.”

None of the actors appear to have been paid. Connell said in his interview, “All the actors were lovely people, we gathered together in the morning and said ‘we’re probably not going to get paid for this but kids are still going to come up. Let’s make this as magic as possible for them.'” Which is a damn sight more than the event organizers did.

Warning signs

At least one Redditor predicted the disaster before it happened. A r/glasgow user going by Prestigious_Try4610 wrote a post on Feb 10 warning that Willy’s Chocolate Experience was most likely a scam, specifically naming Billy Coull. (More on him in a moment.) If only people had listened! Although then we wouldn’t have had the memes.

Some people spoke up after the event to share the bullets they’d dodged. Performer Tom Whiston shared messages he’d received from House of Illuminati about a role at the ill-fated event.

At one point he received a message from the company asking him to resend a form as “we done something silly.”

Yes. They did indeed do something silly.

Billy Coull

Another r/glasgow user, DoubleelbuoD, did some digging and found out a little more about Coull’s other ventures. They described him as “a one man conspiracy nutter” and linked to his Instagram, his deleted but archived personal website, and his Amazon author page.

Yep, turns out Billy Coull has a side gig of making … wait for it … anti-vax novels generated with AI! This man may not have a single original thought in his head by the looks of it. Advertisements for a couple of his “novels” survive on Instagram and they all look, quite frankly, like complete nonsense.

In fact, there’s a lot of digging going on in r/glasgow. Apparently, this isn’t the first time Coull has been caught scamming people, and the last time was allegedly a charity scam. He seems to be well noted as a wrong’un by the people of that particular city … someone who could’ve come straight out of one of Roald Dahl’s books really.

The “apology”

It looks like Coull may not be able to weasel his way out of this viral point-and-laugh-fest. Coull apologized to his customers and offered an attempt at explanation, saying, “We did decide to continue the event in the best manner in which we could.” But whether or not he’ll get around to paying the actors apparently remains to be seen.

Clearly, he’s no Willy Wonka. Although people on social media have pointed out that he was at least true to the spirit of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book: Kids were lured into what they thought would be an exciting chocolate adventure and they left disappointed, to say the least.

Ironically though, if House of Illuminati re-opened Willy’s Chocolate Experience now, after two days of memes, it would probably be a massive hit.

(featured image: Paramount Pictures)


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Author
Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.