It was marketed as a “celebration of chocolate in all its delightful forms” but it ended up being so horrid that the Scottish police were called and refunds were ordered immediately. An event company called House of Illuminati used AI-generated images to market on Facebook and charged about $44 to experience their Willy’s Chocolate Experience. The incident went viral Tuesday afternoon and gained worldwide attention.

The attraction was in no way shape or form connected with Warner Bros.’ Wonka, or even the Gene Wilder classic. However, the event’s marketing came as close as possible to suggesting it was based on author Roald Dahl’s iconic confectionate creation. Even the ads invited fans to take a trip to “a universe where confectionary dreams are brought to life” with “wondrous creations and enchanting surprises at every turn!”

Images used showed man-sized mushrooms, colossal candy canes, and functional chocolate fountains with the help of AI. The experience was broken down into different parts: The Enchanted Garden, Imagination Lab–which had a trademark for some reason, and Twilight Tunnel.

The Guardian reported that when customers showed up in Glasgow, they were welcomed into “a sparsely decorated warehouse with a scattering of plastic props, a small bouncy castle, and some backdrops pinned against the walls.” Scotland police were even called to the scene, the event shut down and parents said their children were very upset.

Paul Connell, an actor who had been hired by the company to perform at the event, quickly realized it was not going to be anything ticket buyers were promised and was even told to improvise his dialog.

“My heart sank looking around,” he said (via The Guardian). “I just felt sad because I was aware of how many kids were going to be coming through. We were told to hand the kids a couple of jelly beans and a quarter cup of lemonade at the end.”

House of Illuminati apologized to customers for the “very stressful and frustrating day” and confirmed that full refunds would be given to customers, which could take up to 10 days.

“Unfortunately, last minute we were let down in many areas of our event and tried our best to continue on and push through,” the company said in a statement. “And now realize we probably should have canceled first thing this morning instead.”

House of Illuminati isn’t the only company doing this and it brings up the question of more regulation of AI usage in marketing. GameSpot reached out to House of Illuminati for comment.



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