Dismaland - the new 'post-apocalyptic' bemusement park in England

Dateline: Weston-Super-Mare, England, August 24th 2015

 Housed on the site old Tropicana swimming lido built in 1937 that once boasted the largest outdoor swimming pool in Europe and which has been unused since 2000 we now have the latest "must see" spectacle in Europe. Described as "a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park," Dismaland (“The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction") that will be open to the public for only five weeks, starting this week.

 

The teaser trailer for the event is even posted on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2NG-MgHqEk

 

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 Dismaland is attributed to fabled, secretive, UK street artist and provocateur Banksy

and has all the hallmark details of a traditional Banksy event from its initial shroud of secrecy to artistic themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and pointed social critiques on celebrity culture, immigration, and law enforcement.

 

Once inside, you are greeted by a burnt-out ice cream van bidding you "Welcome". Your stunned gaze then is immediately drawn to the familiar looking features of a very well-known fairy-tale castle but which is in an alarming state of ruin and decay.

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 In front of the castle is an uninvitingly green and polluted-looking moat in the centre of which is a highly recognisable Little Mermaid - except that this one appears to have been the victim of an error in a space-time teleporter..

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But it is what lies within the castle interior that is the next big shocker! Just around a darkened corner your suddenly come upon a life-sized tableau of Cinderella's overturned pumpkin coach with the Cinderella hanging lifeless from the door whilst little cartoon birds pull vainly at her ribbons - all surrounded by a host of paparazzi only illuminated by the strobe lights of many flash guns... Just wait - could this actually be our Lady Diana??

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Outside again, to the side of the castle is an old police riot water-cannon vehicle that has been turned into a children's amusement water slide.

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At every turn you are faced with mind-challenging new displays.

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Stinging swipes at the cynical capitalist world abound, some well-justified by any standard...

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UK's own smug Prime Minister, David Cameron, is even featured on this fast disappearing billboard...

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All stewards in the event have been carefully schooled to make your visit as dismal as possible!

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On an outside wall is this delightful piece of street art by Banksy in his typical style.

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And this spectacular seagull crush invites you to take a seat!

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The majority of the artwork packed into three main interior galleries was created by dozens of other artists.  A demented assortment of bizarre and beautiful artworks from no less than 58 global artists including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, BÄst, and Espo. Banksy is also showing 10 artworks of his own.

(artist list source: http://www.thisiscolossal.com)

 

 This floating beach ball above knives by Damien Hirst.

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Look carefully at every piece for the almost hidden 'jolt'...

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Some pieces are simply disturbing...

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Other tented displays show legitimate political protests that echo the problems of today's global trouble spots.

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Here we are treated to a game of 'herd the boat refugees' as bodies floating face down are dotted around the pool...

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Protests at pollution in the 'hook a duck' game with the oil-soaked pelican...

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And the BP dolphin ride...

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 And this huge piece of 'artwork' (I'm not sure about the theme park link though...)

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 Strangely familiar souvenirs can be purchased to remind you of this dismal day... The rat image is a very old Banksy street picture.

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And fun balloons... (one immediately went onto eBay for US$100... (I don't know if it sold though).

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 'Selfie' and photo opportunities abound here you can be a Somalian pirate by putting your face through the openings.

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 Finally you re-emerge into the damp and dismal rainy day on Weston sea front to see the waiting crowd who will take 2 more hours before it is their turn to be completely dismal...

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The end of a thoroughly dismal, but totally thought provoking day! I wonder whether anyone from the Disney Corporation is in that queue?

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One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

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Mac, Thank you for taking us there with you! This is absolutely the best descriptive piece that I've seen about any amusement park! I can see why people are willing to wait in those long lines.  After seeing such talent and creativity by people though, such as displayed there,  it's hard for me to share Banksy's bleak world view.

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

Perhaps sadly, I think I'd be happier visiting there than ever being sentenced to Disneyland again...

 

I'm wondering about the adult/child ratio of the visitors there...would I be right in assuming not too many parents bringing children?

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Paul, I was surprised to see that there were adults taking in some pretty small kids. Quite what the kids might have made of the whole place (especially after enduring the queues...) is beyond me!! But you are right, kids were definitely in the minority.

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

That's a terrific report, Mac -- I feel like I've been there!  So this is what Disneyland is like to someone who's on a "bad trip".

 

There's satire, and then there's a rip off of intellectual copyrights that supposedly the western world has agreed to abid with.  I can't see Disney not going after these guys.  Unless you didn't have to pay anything to get in, there's quite a few pounds switching hands and Disney definitely wants it share.

 

And PHeymont, I'm surprised an adult who likes Las Vegas doesn't like Disneyland.  We went to Disneyland many times with our children when we lived in Southern California and it was always just the way Walt wanted it when he first built the park in the 1950s.  Everyone in the family had a great day!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

I've called Las Vegas an "adult Disneyland," and I like it...just not the other!

 

As far as a lawsuit here, I think it is so obviously parody and satire, and this protected, that Disney won't waste a dime on lawyers...especially since it will be gone soon, leaving Disney with a lot of free publicity in the process.

 

And by the way, charging money for a performance does not change the protected character of the performance. It's when you open your own competing non-parody park that the hammer falls...

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Mac can fill us in in better,  but I remember reading that the ticket was only 3 pounds. Since Disney is over $100, it's a steal. I still think whether Disney can win or lose a lawsuit is not the question. It's whether Disney would get worse publicity going after them vs just leaving them alone. In 2010 , The Simpsons got a lot of credit for letting Banksy do their opening.  Even though he poked fun at the Simpsons outsourcing and treatment of foreign workers

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

Entry to Dismaland remains at £3 ($5) but apparently you now have to book online the crashing website (part of the fun?) which charges you a further £2 ($3.50) for the privilege. Excellent value for such an outstandingly dismal experience... 

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."  Henry Miller

 I do like how Disney maintains their parks but prices have really gotten out of control. Parking alone to Disney World is $17.

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

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