Street artist Banksy is at it again, this time converting an abandoned U.K. seaside attraction into Dismaland, a parody of Disneyland, in an exhibition that opens this weekend.
Once known as the Tropicana, the seaside attraction in Somerset, along the Bristol Channel coast, was shut down in 2000 due to poor visitor numbers. Now, though, the Tropicana is about to be popular once more as Dismaland takes over the area in Weston-super-Mare, which also features work from artists Damien Hurst, Jenny Holzer and Jimmy Cauty.
As expected, Dismaland is a parody of the popular Disney theme parks. Using the run-down nature of the Tropicana to host ironic and anarchistic artwork from 58 artists that features an "escape from mindless escapism," Banksy found inspiration when he peeked through the gates at the derelict area, which now sports his new "attractions."
However, this isn't a place for tourists to come and just gawk at the displays: many of Dismaland's features require audience participation.
"A dead princess is only complete when surrounded by gawping crowds with their cameras out or the opportunity to photograph yourself pulling an amazed expression when a killer whale leaps from a toilet," said Banksy to the BBC. "I guess you'd say it's a theme park whose big theme is – theme parks should have bigger themes."
The "theme park" also features fake airport-like security upon entry, with guards insisting all squid be left outside, as well as grumpy guards. Interestingly enough, entry into the park for a press preview required ID, which is ironic considering Banksy's insistence on his own anonymity. He has 10 artworks in the installation, which is spread across the 2.5-acre site.
Another irony is that Banksy insists that Dismaland is not a parody of Disneyland, in spite of its name and the typeface font used for marketing materials and on the park entrance (which is very close to the official font used by Disneyland).
"It's not a swipe at Disney" said the artist to The Daily Mail. "I banned any imagery of Mickey Mouse from the site. It's a showcase for the best line-up of artists I could imagine, apart from the two who turned me down."
The installation of Dismaland remained top-secret for a long time: even the Weston-super-Mare city council had no idea what was going on, save for four members.
Dismaland opens to the public this weekend. It will remain open until Sept. 27.