Police called to Willy Wonka-inspired experience in Glasgow as families demand refunds

A Willy Wonka-inspired experience was brought to a halt following complaints it was "an absolute shambles of an event" and left children in tears.

Parents criticised the £35-a-ticket event at Box Hub in Glasgow after being promised a "chocolate fantasy like never before" where "dreams become reality".

Despite advertisements pledging a "journey filled with wondrous creations and enchanting surprises", families instead described the experience as "absolutely appalling" and a "waste of money" on social media.

Organiser House of Illuminati was forced to cancel the weekend event midway through its first day on Saturday and has promised full refunds.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said officers were called to the cancelled event and "advice was given".

Stuart Sinclair, 29, travelled two hours from Dundee with his two sons and four-year-old daughter to the event.

They were one of hundreds of families that had purchased tickets - with many later demanding a refund.

Mr Sinclair told Sky News: "The promo descriptions all sounded fantastic. It was far from that."

On arrival, the family were met with a near-empty venue decorated with a handful of Wonka-themed props and a small bouncy castle.

Mr Sinclair said his children only received a couple of jelly babies and a quarter of a can of Barr's Limeade.

He said the older boys, aged nine and 10, took the disappointment well.

"My little girl was a bit disappointed because she was looking forward to it as she's only four, but the boys just laughed it off because of how bad it was," he said.

Mr Sinclair described it as "an absolute shambles of an event".

He added: "I've never seen anything like it. It was definitely an 'experience'."

According to the event's website, Willy's Chocolate Experience promised an enchanted garden with "giant sweets, vibrant blooms, mysterious-looking sculptures, and magical surprises".

As well as live performances with "charming characters singing original catchy tunes", the "exhilarating and immersive adventure" should also have featured a "twilight tunnel" and "imagination lab", where "the boundaries between reality and fantasy harmoniously merge".

One woman wrote on Facebook she "laughed so much the whole way round", while another said she "laughed at how bad it was".

Another person posted: "(It was a) very simple set up with cheap backdrops around it."

She added: "(It's definitely) worth doing your homework before buying into events. Thankfully our bairns just embraced the whole thing and weren't too disappointed."

"Oh and great idea to have a person dressed in a terrifying outfit to come out and scare all the kids. They were all crying - it was terrible, shocking and embarrassing to be honest," wrote one parent.

"Sold a dream and delivered a nightmare," wrote another.

Read more from Sky News:
Saltburn mansion beset by fans and influencers
Is this the death of the big night out?

In a Facebook post on Saturday night, House of Illuminati said: "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 said it had planned a "fabulous" event but "it just did not take shape".

The spokesperson added: "We are devastated at how this has turned out and understand people's anger and frustration that everyone has had."

It said refunds could take up to 10 working days.

Mr Sinclair said: "I've had no money back yet, but the company have said they are issuing them. I'll have to wait and see."