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Viral Willy Wonka Event Invades Video Games

Video games are more than just a way to escape reality and have some fun for a little while. They can also act as a mirror to reflect our world back to us, allowing us to see ourselves in an entirely new light. Games have the ability to show us deep truths about our lives β€” but at this exact moment, a bunch of them are showing us a failed $40 "Willy Wonka" immersive experience instead.

Alright, that last sentence makes it sound like there's maybe a gas leak in the writer's room, but hang in there with us for just a moment. On February 24, a slew of parents in Glasgow, Scotland brought their kids to "Willy's Chocolate Experience," a pop-up event supposedly based on Roald Dahl's ever-popular novel. What was supposed to be a two-day event filled with chocolate, games, and surprise guests turned out to be a slapped-together carnival in a mostly empty warehouse. Worse yet, instead of chocolate, the event's few employees only had a couple of jelly beans to give to each kid.

Long story short, the event got shut down midway through its first day, and event organizer Billy Coull caught hell from the parents online. Coull apologized and promised refunds for everyone, and that really should have been the end of things. Except, the internet does what it does, and "Willy's Chocolate Experience" has caught on in a whole new way. Now it's the talk of the digital town, and while some people spent their weekend playing "WWE 2K24," other dedicated gamers have been doing the work of bringing the "Chocolate Experience" into their favorite titles. Check out X user @Haztecamarera's incredible "Animal Crossing" recreations, then read on for more.

Fiction-reality feedback loop

The utterly bizarre, borderline apocalyptic aesthetic of "Willy's Chocolate Experience" really captured the imaginations of some gamers. They spent the week following the failed event doggedly working to recreate their favorite aspects of it inside various games. Even legit video game companies are getting in on the fun. Someone over at Blizzard added a little bit of "Willy's Chocolate Experience" to "World of Warcraft," as seen above. There's something truly chilling about this white-eyed Oompa Loompa stand-in.Β 

One fans' "Far Cry 5" rendition of the experience really captured the "Did I just walk onto a horror movie set?" vibe.

"Far Cry 5" isn't the only game getting the full set-up, either. One dedicated gamer also rebuilt the entire event inside of "Fortnite." Now it should be easier for non-Scottish children to see what they missed out on.

"Palworld" has some messed-up creatures, but none of them are quite as creepy as the Unknown. The mask-wearing character was, for some reason, a villain who hid in the walls and jumped out at kids who attended "Willy's Chocolate Experience." Naturally, it's getting redesigned in the style of a handful of games, including "Minecraft."

Real life children were terrified of the Unknown (because of course they were), but Kirby is ready to fearlessly charge into battle against the creature.

Willy's lasting legacy

"Willy's Chocolate Experience" is over and the refunds are on their way out, at least according to event organizer Billy Coull. While none of the memes about the event are likely to bring any additional relief to the families who experienced it first hand, the internet really can't get enough of them. For instance, fans are calling on Blizzard to give its social media team a raise for staying so on top of the latest trends.

Meanwhile, the artist who put the Unknown inside a Kirby game might already be planning a follow-up piece, proving that the Unknown might be the next big thing in video games β€” even bigger than this year's twisted public domain Mickey Mouse games.Β The character has become such a star that the actress who played it at the real life event has gotten in on the fun, joining some of her fellow performers in sharing their stories.

"Willy's Chocolate Experience" wasn't what any of its attendees wanted, but it's ended up providing the entire world with quite a bit of entertainment after all.

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