Willy Wonka event leaves bitter taste with artificially sweetened promises

Charlie and the AI factory flop compared to 'meth lab'

In the most flagrant case of false advertising since The NeverEnding Story, cops were called to a Wonka-themed "Willy's Chocolate Experience" in Glasgow, Scotland, because promotional material was made entirely from AI-generated slop.

"INDULGE IN A CHOCOLATE FANTASY LIKE NEVER BEFORE – CAPTURE THE ENCHANTMENT™" the website drools. "Dive into the whimsical of [sic] Willy's Chocolate Experience!, a place where chocolate dreams become reality. Book your adventure now and embark on a journey filled with wondrous creations and enchanting surprises at every turn!"

But instead of a technicolor dreamworld of candy and chocolate inspired by the 2023 Hollywood reboot of Roald Dahl's story, children were left crying because the whole thing was a handful of sad props in a desolate warehouse with an "Oompa Loompa" who looked like "she's running a literal meth lab and is seriously questioning the life choices up until this point."

The stinger is that the event run by The House of Illuminati cost £35 ($44) a ticket. Families that turned up early immediately complained, with one parent calling it an "absolute shambles of an event," which caused the company to cancel it midway through the opening day on February 24.

However, later attendees were not informed of the stunt's doom, and people kept trying to file through the doors to endless disappointment (sung to the tune of "Pure Imagination," no doubt), but were turned away. Some reported having traveled multiple hours and want their train fares covered.

The true grimness of the situation is effectively captured in this footage, Gizmodo compiled a side-by-side comparison of AI mulch and the reality here, while an actor hired to play "Wonka" shared his harrowing tale with The Independent.

"In some ways, it was a world of imagination, like imagine that there is a whole chocolate factory here," he quipped.

A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed that officers attended and "advice was given." In the aftermath, parents sounded off on social media. "Sold a dream and delivered a nightmare," wrote one.

The House of Illuminati went cap in hand on Facebook, saying: "Today has been a very stressful and frustrating day for many and for that we are truly sorry.

"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 realise we probably should have cancelled first thing this morning instead.

"We fully apologise for what has happened and will be giving full refunds to each and every person that purchased tickets."

It's baffling that so many people fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Not only does the copy on the website reek of generative AI, all the images have quite obviously been spurted out following a lazy prompt. Equally baffling is that it was all waved through by the event organizers. These days the general public would be well advised to assume an air of skepticism toward ... well, anything really.

AI image generators like OpenAI's DALL-E do not handle words well, and one picture promises "enchering entertainment, catgacating, live performmances, cartchy tuns, exarserdray lollipops, a pasadise of sweet teats," whatever any of that means.

And so it begins – the absolute dumbing down and worsening of everything from media to film to advertising to politics to the written word at the dead hands of AI, stoked by venture capitalists' rabid faith that it will be some sort of productivity silver bullet.

Great job, guys. It's going really well. ®

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