Dismaland’s lagoon. Photo by Toby Melville/Reuters.
After much secrecy, street artist and anarchist extraordinaire Banksy has transformed a derelict seaside resort into his largest project yet: a dystopian “family theme park unsuitable for small children” boasting a decrepit castle, a Grim Reaper, a mangled Cinderella, a predatory loan booth, a pond for boats jammed with dead bodies and asylum seekers, an armor-plated, Northern-Ireland-era riot control vehicle become a kids’ slide, a representation of 3,000 riot police called in the aftermath of major civil unrest a surly assemblage of greeters wearing Mickey Mouse ears and t-shirts reading, “Dismal,” and an array of seriously macabre art by 50 artists hand-picked by Banksy, plus 10 of his own pieces. One of those artists celebrated the venture by noting he’d “never seen so much sarcasm in one place.” Dismaland opened Thursday to so much clamor its website instantly crashed; some stoically celebrated the “comically terrible experience” of trying to get tickets, while others wondered if that, too, was meant as dour commentary on the marvels of online industry.
Situated on an abandoned 2.5 acre site “in legendary Weston-super-Mare,” Dismaland’s dark exhibits range from amusement-park-themed goofy – a booth challenging contestants to Knock Down the Anvil! with a tennis ball, after which miracle you win the anvil – and politically pointed: A bus stop featuring instructions and for-sale tools to dismantle advertisements in order to replace them with your own posters, like one marking the 1,513 people who have died in police custody, and the zero police convictions that resulted. Its website touts the “entry-level anarchism (of) an alternative to the soulless sugar-coated banality of the average family day out…a chaotic new world where you can escape from mindless escapism. Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus – a theme park whose big theme is theme parks should have bigger themes.” From the elusive Banksy in one interview, “I hope everyone from Weston will take the opportunity to once more stand in a puddle of murky water eating cold chips to the sound of crying children.”
Photos by Alicia Canter for The Guardian
We would like to apologise to anyone attempting to buy tickets online today.
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 22nd and 23rd tickets will only be available on the door (of the portacabin on the grass opposite the site) from 9am. After reaching its 2000 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 25th August.
Dismal Land – a festival of art, amusements and entry-level anarchism.
Are you looking for an alternative to the sugar-coated tedium of the average family day out? Or just somewhere a lot cheaper?
Then this is the place for you. Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus…
Open everyday from 22nd August – 27th September 2015.
11am – 11pm. Admission £3, free for the under 5’s.
Capacity is limited, visit the ticket page and book a time slot for guaranteed entry.
FOR FIVE WEEKS ONLY
Contains uneven floor surfaces, extensive use of strobe lighting, imagery unsuitable for small children and swearing.
The following are strictly prohibited in the Park – spray paint, marker pens, knives and legal representatives of the Walt Disney Corporation.
Dismaland® boasts three large galleries which together comprise the finest collection of contemporary art ever assembled in a North Somerset seaside town.
Jimmy Cauty’s hand crafted miniature world will delight and amaze (and potentially cause seizures in persons sensitive to strobe lighting).
Step inside the fairytale and see how it feels to be a real princess. Souvenir photos available.
Features a bus-mounted museum, library, gallery of guerilla art, Comrades Advice Bureau and workshops in how to hack billboards.
has constructed a stallion entirely from used scaffolding.
Water Cannon Creek
An armour plated riot control vehicle built to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland. Equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers and now – a children’s slide.
An oil caliphate themed crazy golf course made from the hockey pitch at Cheltenham Ladies college.
Giant Pin Wheel
Commissioned by Banksy to power the entire site, it turns out this ecological marvel has trouble charging more than two mobile phones at once.
Strictly for the little ones – an area that combines soft play and loan shop.
Punch and Julie
The infamous Julie Burchill has given this seaside staple a good kicking. Now includes references to Jimmy Saville and Fifty Shades of Grey.
A puppet revue show constructed entirely from the contents of Hackney skips – it’s ‘Fly Tip Theatre’ by Paul Insect and Bast. Self operated.
Jeffrey Archer Memorial Fire Pit
Warm yourself around an authentic real open fire ceremonially lit each day by burning one of the famed local perjurer’s novels.
Nettie Wakefield renders your likeness in an exquisite pencil drawing, but only the back of your head. Surprisingly revealing.
The humble picnic table proves a rich source of artistic ammunition for American furniture twerker Michael Beitz.
Truck-mounted outdoor screen playing a rolling program of short films day and night. Cushions not provided.
A gothic sculpture park in a tiny big top tent.
Win big prizes on hook-a-duck and the shooting gallery. Knock over an anvil in David Shrigley’s game of skill and cunning. Navigate the high seas with Banksy’s Mediterranean
Big Rig Jig
A masterpiece of post-industrial assemblage art – it’s two juggernauts performing ballet by Mike Ross.