Oompa Loompa what did we do, Wonka Glasgow was a nightmare come true

Kirsty Paterson and Jenny Fogarty describe the behind-the-scenes chaos at an 'immersive' Willy Wonka-themed event in Glasgow.

When actor Kirsty Paterson dressed up as an Oompa Loompa for a Willy Wonka-themed event in Glasgow, the fallout to come was beyond her wildest imagination.

She accepted a role at Willy’s Chocolate Experience, organised by immersive events company House of Illuminati, which promised ticket goers an “enchanting” day out where “dreams come to life”.

But the reality wasn’t rainbows, chocolate rivers and everlasting gobstoppers.

Families attending the event, held at the Box Hub Warehouse in the Whiteinch area of the city, were met with a room sparsely decorated with plastic props, a small bouncy castle and backdrops – generated by artificial intelligence – pinned to walls.

One of the defining images of the underwhelming experience, which has piqued the interest of news outlets across the globe, is one of Kirsty dressed as an Oompa Loompa – fictional workers from the children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – and standing behind a table adorned with scientific equipment.

But social media users galore said it looked like a “meth lab”.


“It was tablecloths and a bunch of low Ikea mirrors,” Kirsty told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“We were getting quite well paid, for like the two days we were working, and they were charging a lot of money for the tickets.

“They told us it was going to be pantomime-style and that we were going to perform as they walked through, but what happened is they gave us the script the night before.

“I remember on the Friday when I went, it looked like that. I kind of thought to myself ‘surely, they must have people working throughout the night for this to be better, with lights, everything like that’.

“I got given the one pound, Poundland-appropriate, Oompa Loompa outfit and by that point, I tried it on and we were all just laughing. I was contemplating ‘do I just walk out, this is too much, I can’t deal with this’.

“The other actors were amazing and I didn’t want to let them down. Then I started seeing the kids coming in and they were all dressed up and they were so cute, I didn’t want to let them down, I just didn’t.

“They were so excited so it was such a shame. We couldn’t actually do any more than what we did, because of what we were given.”

After the show was shut down, the actors left the venue and went to the pub.

“When we came back, there were four police vans outside, it was just wild,” said Kirsty.

“I actually feel really, really bad because they have not had any refunds, especially during a cost of living crisis, it’s a lot of money to people these days.

“The kids as well, it’s just been awful

“I mean, I would do it again, why not? But make sure that everything is put in place.”

Kirsty and Jenny were only paid half of their agreed fee for agreeing to work at the Wonka experience.

Box Hub said House of Illuminati was responsible for the event “in its entirety” and that it was “incredibly underwhelming”.

One parent said their child was handed “a packet of sweets and a wee lolly”.

Organisers called a halt to the event only hours into it opening after they were met with a furious reaction by customers, who had paid £35 for the experience.

Police confirmed officers had been called to the venue following complaints.

In a statement, House of Illuminati apologised to customers and said it should have cancelled the event as it was “let down last minute” by suppliers, adding the event “did not take shape as planned”.

Jenny Fogarty, who also performed as an Oompa Loompa at the event, said: “When we asked about make-up we were just told to improvise, just to do our make-up as crazy as we want, there was no direction.

“I don’t think we got the brunt of the abuse, we got mostly confusion.”

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