“The fairytale is over, the world is sleepwalking towards climate catastrophe, maybe all that escapism will have to wait.” – Banksy
The wait for Banksy’s latest exhibition is finally over as Dismaland opened to the public on Saturday 23rd August. If you’re a Banksy obsessive like me this event is a must!
The Bristolian street artist (and his PR crew) built up so much hype over the event that six million crazed fans crashed the Dismaland website on Friday trying to get hold of a £3 ticket. I was one of those fans attempting to get a ticket as soon as Friday dawned at midnight.
After trying my luck for an hour or so I realised that nothing was actually happening on the website and gave in. I was checking Twitter simultaneously at this point and it seemed it wasn’t just me staring at a JPEG of a calendar.
I thought to myself, would Banksy really allow for such organisation with one of his events, or is this all just part of his genius plan? I believe in the latter.
The website has since apologised to people who tried to get tickets and states they will go on sale on Tuesday 25th August – we shall see…
I was already in Bristol on the opening weekend on Dismaland as I was visiting some of my old work mates for a bit of a piss up. So as news broke through the week that Banksy was in town I knew I had to make it. After trying, and failing to buy tickets online (and becoming part of the dismal experience) I decided on Dismaland’s opening day I would head over to Weston-Super-Mare anyway and have a look, and maybe have an ice cream and build a sandcastle on the beach too.
Approaching the seafront in Weston-Super-Mare
The view from the front
My first glance of Dismaland!
As I walked down the seafront I could see the Cinderella Castle in the distance. Now my only hope was buying a ticket (if they even existed?!) and getting into the Bemusement Park. I joined the rather huge queue at around 11:30, it was massive. There must have been at least 1,000 people there already.
I didn’t let that put me off and took my place at the back of the queue, and was slowly joined by more and more eager Banksy fans. To be fair the queue moved down quicker than I expected which made it a little less dismal.
This is what my three hour queueing experience looked like:
This is what the queue looked like at 11:15 on the opening day…
An hour in and the ticket office was getting closer. As you can see it was a classic British summer day.
13:00 and my £3 ticket was in spitting distance
The best three notes I’ve ever spent!
At last, I had my ticket. There was just another hour and a half of queueing to go…
For those who want to buy more than one wristband, or a ticket for another day from the ticket office, you can’t. Nor can you take in pens (so no tagging over Banksy’s work). After purchasing my ticket I joined the back of another massive queue. The Weston-Super-Mare sun came out for the second part of my queuing extravaganza and I was sweating my tits off. My neck is now ridiculously sunburnt. When you’re British you just can’t win; it’s either too hot, or too cold.
Just after one o’clock and almost two hours into my Dismaland experience I was almost there…
14:00 and I found myself in the next group to go into Dimsaland!
After three hours queuing and standing around in the sweltering sun, the time had come for me to enter Dismaland.
The experience wasn’t just about the creations of Banksy and the 50 other artists (including Damien Hirst), the staff also added to the truly dismal atmosphere. Walking through security the staff mocked everyone and did their best to make it as uncomfortable as possible.
The guy on the entrance mocked my moustache and appearance in general. I was pretty hungover that day so I was expecting something. Before entering Dismaland you have to go through Banksy’s security checkpoint where the ‘guards’ ask you a series of questions and set the scene for what’s to come.
After surviving the security interrogation I was free to enter the Bemusement Park! When you enter the park you’re greeted by someone handing out brochures, which you have to really pull to get out of their hands! The staff are all about being dismal, from the expressions on their faces to their attitudes, and it’s all part of the Dismaland experience.
Dismaland is fucking amazing! And I’m going to give it a very dismal 10 out of 10.
It was like walking into Banksy’s mind and at points I didn’t know whether it was real or if I was still dreaming.
Dismaland is worth the hype, it’s worth the wait and I feel privileged I got to experience it on the day it opened to the public.
Here’s some of my favourite bits from Dismaland:
Cinderella’s Castle: Here’s one for you Disney fans!
Dismaland was as dark as it was inspiring, and as bleak as it was beautiful. Banksy, we salute you.
Did you make it to Dismaland this weekend or are you planning to go soon? Share your thoughts and dismal experience with me!
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