Culture Dismaland: Welcome to the Gloomiest Place on Earth

| Tuesday, 25 August 2015 00:07

UPDATE: Added video of Dismaland by Alex Jefferis, see bottom.


It begins the moment you enter the theme park. Barking short, gruff instructions, security guards pat you down aggressively and tell you to turn around, then turn around again. “I didn’t ask to see your butt,” one grumbles. Then, with a wave and a frown, they usher you through the gate and you’re in. Welcome to Dismaland.


Fans of the cheeky street artist Banksy won’t be surprised that he (she?) is behind the grim parody of Disneyland, though plenty of other artists are on the menu, too — nearly 60 in all. And that’s not to mention the crotchety security guards, ride operators, and other staff members, whose douchebaggery is a performance in itself.

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Billed as “The UK’s most disappointing new tourist attraction!” and an “alternative to the sugar-coated tedium of the average day out,” the park rips on traditional Disneyland staples. You’ll find a twisted carousel, depressing sculptures (including one of The Little Mermaid’s Ariel, scrambled as though your VCR’s tracking is on the fritz), artists who will sketch portraits of the back of your head, and even carnival games, like one impossibility that invites you to “topple the anvil” with a ping pong ball.

It’s as though every magical theme park motif somehow grew up — and then hit rock bottom.

And it all takes place under the dull gray sky of Weston-super-Mare, England, inside a derelict swimming facility that workers have been quietly converting over the past few months. It’s open now through Sept. 27. You can grab tickets on the official website.

From the event’s official brochure: “This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spraycans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation.”

If you can’t make to Dismaland yourself, here’s a brief tour of what you’ll find inside:

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photos by Colossal and Reuters (via NYT)

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