Wednesday 26 October 2016

Banksy theme park Dismaland proves big draw in website rush for tickets

Published 21/08/2015 | 15:33

Dismaland opened at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset last month and was visited by 150,000 people
Dismaland opened at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset last month and was visited by 150,000 people

Banksy may have branded his new Dismaland theme park the most disappointing tourist attraction in the UK but it has not stopped its website apparently crashing under sheer weight of people trying to buy tickets.

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The attraction, which has been set up at a derelict seaside lido at Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, features migrant boats, Jimmy Savile and an anarchist training camp.

Long queues formed outside Dismaland as residents of North Somerset waited to catch a glimpse of the exhibits inside.

The artist had given away 1,000 tickets to local people, which they could get by exchanging a voucher printed in the Weston Mercury for a wristband.

The doors are set to open to the wider public on Saturday and in a desperate scramble to get tickets, Dismaland's website has crashed, causing people to vent their frustration on social media.

One Twitter user wrote: "Really need the #Dismaland website to get back up and running! It's like getting Beyonce tickets all over again...!"

Another wrote: "Dismaland website is not playing the game for tickets."

But others speculated that the ticket misery and faulty website was all part of the Dismaland experience.

Anthony Hamer-Hodges wrote: "I guess the misery of queuing and a crashing website is part of the satire #Dismaland."

James Bush said: "Love that the #Dismaland website keeps crashing and people are complaining about it. Irony really is lost on some people."

A spokeswoman for Banksy said: "The website is getting a lot of traffic so people have to bear with it."

The show, a dark take on theme parks with a nod to Disneyland, has been organised in secrecy for months.

The elusive artist has banned spray paint, marker pens, knives and "legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation" from the 2.5-acre Tropicana site.

Visitors enter the theme park, which features work by dozens of artists, through a security check made from cardboard by Bill Barminski.

They are greeted with a view of the park and Banksy's fire-ravaged fairytale Cinderella Castle showing "how it feels to be a real princess".

There are boats full of asylum seekers which can be driven round a pond, two juggernauts performing ballet and a camp training guests how to break into bus billboards.

Stewards in matching tabards and Disney-style ears are also part of the exhibition and stare blankly at visitors as they go about their duties.

Banksy described the park as "a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism", adding: "This is an art show for the 99% who'd rather be at Alton Towers."

The Bristol-based artist was inspired to create the park after peeking through a gap in the fence at the Tropicana site in January.

He handpicked the artists featured in the show, who come from across the world including Israel, Palestine, Syria, the US and the UK.

Dismaland will run twice a day from Saturday until September 27 and involve musical performances from Massive Attack, Pussy Riot and Kate Tempest.

Tickets are £3 for adults and free for children.

Meanwhile, copies of the Weston Mercury with the Dismaland ticket offer inside are selling on auction site eBay from anywhere between £3 and £20.

Unofficial merchandise, such as t-shirts, are also being offered for sale, as is a copy of the official programme and guide.

Later, organisers apologised for the problems with the theme park's website and said tickets could be bought on the day from the cabin on the grass opposite the attraction.

"We would like to apologise to anyone attempting to buy tickets online today," they said in a message posted on the Dismaland website.

"Due to unprecedented demand 'the UK's most disappointing new visitor attraction' is currently unable to process online ticket sales.

"This Saturday and Sunday August 22 and 23 tickets will only be available on the door (of the portacabin on the grass opposite the site) from 9am.

"After reaching its 2,000 capacity entry will be on a one in/one out basis. Last entry at 9pm. This may result in some queueing and we apologise for any inconvenience.

"Online bookings will be taken from Tuesday August 25."

Press Association

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