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Creator of Failed Willy Wonka Immersive Event Speaks Out: “It All Looked Good on Paper”

The person behind the failed Willy Wonka U.K. “immersive experience” is speaking out after the event went viral on social media.

Billy Coull’s firm House of Illuminati was responsible for the failed fan attraction Willy’s Chocolate Experience — which was inspired by Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but not affiliated with the book or movies.

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The event that promised to transport fans into a “magical realm” ended up leaving some children in tears and other customers comparing it to a meth lab and calling the police, which Coull said he takes full responsibility for.

Coull recently told The Sunday Times that he did “absolutely not” anticipate the amount of attention the event eventually received and added that “it all looked good on paper.”

Earlier this month, he also issued a formal apology on the House of Illuminati’s Facebook page. “I want to extend my sincerest apologies to each and every one of you who was looking forward to this event,” he wrote. “I understand the disappointment and frustration this has caused, and for that, I am truly sorry.”

His statement continued, “It’s important for me to clarify that the organization and decisions surrounding this event were solely my responsibility. I want to make it clear that anyone who was hired externally or offered their help, are not affiliated with me or the company, any use of faces can cause serious harm to those who did not have any involvement in the making of this event.”

Although the event’s website advertised it as a journey to “a universe where confectionary dreams are brought to life,” customers who paid $44 each actually showed up to find “a sparsely decorated warehouse with a scattering of plastic props, a small bouncy castle and some backdrops pinned against the walls,” according to The Guardian.

Organizers also reportedly used artificial intelligence to generate promotional images and posters that suggested the experience would be a high-quality attraction.

One of the actors who was hired to play Willy Wonka at the event also spoke out later, saying he was sent a script last-minute that was “15 pages of AI-generated gibberish of me just monologuing these mad things.”

Paul Connell added that there was “no chocolate at the chocolate experience. There was supposed to be a chocolate fountain somewhere, but I never saw it.” He said he eventually decided to quit along with some Oompa Loompas.

The Guardian also previously reported that event organizers refunded tickets and apologized to customers for the “very stressful and frustrating day,” adding, “Unfortunately, last minute we were let down in many areas of our event and tried our best to continue on and push through and now realize we probably should have canceled first thing this morning instead.”

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