Theme parks are bastions of wholesome family vacations, where you can get some thrills on rides, eat lots of fried food, and hang out with your favorite, brightly colored, trademarked characters. Maybe you love these places and have fond memories of being a kid there, or of bringing your kids there.
Or maybe you were just a little creeped out by them.
Drawing on all the ways an amusement park can be creepy, renowned British street artist and social commentator Banksy created Dismaland, described on its own site as “the U.K.’s most disappointing new visitor attraction.”
Are we having fun yet?
Welcome to Dismaland, where the staff doesn’t care about you and everything is coated in palpable gloom over bright colors.
In reality, Dismaland is less an actual amusement park and more a huge, open-air art installation, featuring the work of more than 50 artists from around the world, curated by Banksy, as well as by Colossal founder Christopher Jobson, who also took most of the photos you see here.
Designed like a dilapidated, creepy seaside resort, Dismaland is full of Banksy’s favorite themes, like anti-consumerism, criticism of celebrity culture, environmentalism, oppression, and more fun things. Instead of an “amusement” park, it’s called a “bemusement” park.
From the official brochure:
“Bring the whole family to come and enjoy the latest addition to our chronic leisure surplus — a bemusement park. A theme park who’s [sic] big theme is: theme parks should have bigger themes…
“This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing. The following items are strictly prohibited: knives, spray cans, illegal drugs, and lawyers from the Walt Disney corporation.”
The run-down, grimy-looking place is perfectly creepy, and takes a snarky, subversive look at the relentlessly happy caricature of amusement parks.
The park features impossible-to-win games, like one where the object is to knock over an anvil with a ping-pong ball, a Ferris wheel and mini golf course, and several employees whose morose attitudes and absurd actions makes the environment all the more surreal. Think occupy demonstrators who randomly occupy different places and pink-vested staff who go out of their way to be uninformative. There’s also a rather uncomfortable pat-down security check at the entrance.
Dismaland is open to the public through September 27, 2015, and you can try to buy tickets on the website, but good luck with that. There are also several (actual) musical events being held there. If you’re in the U.K. and feeling a little too happy, check out Dismaland.