The world renowned graffiti artist, Banks’y happens to be a favourite of my daughters. To be honest I quite like his style too. A few years back when she was studying art at school, she made Banksy her special project, so one day we jumped in the car and drove to Bristol to visit his artworks in the flesh so to speak.
When he announced the Dismaland project, a theme park not suitable for kids as he put it, at an old Lido in Weston Super Mere. We were lucky enough to secure tickets for us and a couple of Emmerson’s friends.
My wife hates using our car due to the size and fuel consumption, but none of the vans would fit 5 people, so I got to enjoy a blast all the way down the country in my Mas. During the periods the wife fell asleep I got to enjoy the 400+ horses under the bonnet without screams of “Look at the fuel consumption” lol.
When we got to the park, the queue was enormous. It was then that I realised a possible problem. I had actually bought the tickets on ebay, not through a regular channel as they were next to impossible to obtain. Basically the ticket was a sheet of A4 paper with a barcode. Anyone could have put them together, or the same ticket could have been sold multiple times.
Crap, but I did have a cunning plan, I sent the kids in first to see what happened. In the event they walked straight in so we were ok.
A Park With A Difference
Now the park itself was different, very different, but something we all enjoyed. However I have to say it brought a worrying trend home. The whole idea was that the park was meant to be a dismal, unfriendly place, with surly staff that couldn’t be bothered with the customers. A spoof on a traditional fairground.
Thing I realised was, the customer service part was pretty much what you see on some fairgrounds today. Young kids in the stalls playing on their phones who viewed you as a nuisance if you wanted to play. Operators in the rides looking bored and disinterested. At one point the wife and I were stood debating whether we should go into a particular structure. When the girl on the outside shouted at us “In or out, in or out, don’t stand there blocking the ride, make your mind up!”
I burst out laughing, because a very good friend of mine has exactly the same customer facing skills. I have seen her shout very similar commands when some poor unfortunate is stood at the ride entrance making their mind up.
I was impressed by the thought that had gone into the attractions. To be sure they were taking traditional funfair attractions and twisting them into some steam punk, distressed interpretation of what they would have been. But in some cases hitting the nail right on the head.
It’s Impossible To Win!
Take topple the anvil for instance. I should imagine its physically impossible to knock an anvil off the shelf with a rubber ball. But then, there are games I have seen on fairgrounds that are equally impossible. The traditional coconut shie was renowned for having ‘duds’, that is some of the coconuts you were trying to knock off were actually metal replicas. Nothing short of an Exocet missile would move them.
One of my favourite shows was death riding the dodgem car. Played to trance music it was one of the earlier attractions we encountered and was just plain funny.
There was plenty of Banksy’s political commentary, such as the coin operated remote control boats. Which happened to be boats filled with refugees. Or the exhibition of various weapons used by governments to oppress the people.
There were also some weird commentary on consumerism and minority representation such as the gifts below sold in the shop.
Battlefield Casualty Action Man
But The Food Was Good
Lol, even the catering didn’t escape his vitriol.
Although some people slated the park, I think it is because they just didn’t get the sarcasm mixed with social commentary undercurrent that it was put together with. We had a great time.