Creator of Willy Wonka-Themed Experience Apologizes for Failed Event: ‘It All Looked Good on Paper’

Billy Coull said he takes responsibility for the Feb. 24 event, which left some children in tears and led some parents to call police

<p>SWNS</p> The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow.


The Willy Wonka-inspired event that police were called to in Glasgow.

The man behind the failed Willy Wonka-themed experience in Scotland that went viral late last month has apologized.

Billy Coull, 35, said he takes responsibility for the disappointing event on Feb. 24, which left some children in tears and led some parents to call police, The Sunday Times reported Sunday.

Coull is the man behind House of Illuminati, which is responsible for the failed experience. On its website, the company claims to host “extraordinary events and immersive experiences” by “blending art, technology, and storytelling” together.

“It all looked good on paper,” Coull told the Times. He said he did not anticipate the amount of attention the event would eventually receive.

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Coull issued a separate apology in a March 1 post on House of Illuminati’s Facebook page, and said the decisions made about the Wonka-themed event were “solely” his responsibility.

“I understand the disappointment and frustration this has caused, and for that, I am truly sorry,” Coull wrote.

He previously served as chief executive and director of a charity known as the Gowanbank Hub. The food bank and help center closed in 2022 after canceling its heavily-publicized Santa’s Grotto event, which sparked critiques online.

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The company ultimately shut down due to an “absolute lack of funding,” Coull told the Times. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator said Gowanbank Hub had several overdue accounts at the time.

Coull was also chief executive and founder of Empowerity, through which he claimed to “help people live a phenomenal life by providing the tools, knowledge and information that can enable even average Joe start and grow a widely profitable businesses.”

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Additionally, Coull has 17 books for sale on Amazon that were written with AI, the Times alleged

Some of the promotional material for the Willy Wonka-themed event appeared to be AI-generated as well, and at least two actors have claimed the scripts they received were created using the technology.

Paul Connell, who played Willy Wonka, described his 15-page script as “AI-generated gibberish” to Today. Kirsty Paterson, the Oompa Loompa whose image went viral, made a similar claim in an interview with Vulture.

House of Illuminati has not responded to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.

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Coull has since left his family home and canceled plans for a destination wedding in Turkey this June, according to the Times.

In his statement on House of Illuminati’s Facebook page, Coull asked “for a bit of time to process everything that has happened” in connection with the Wonka-themed event.

“My intention is to learn from this experience,” he continued. “Your support and understanding during this time mean the world to me.”

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