Dismaland: It’s A Small Anti-Disney World After All

Dismaland “bemusement park” opens on Saturday in the UK. The dreary pop-up art exhibition is the creation of British graffiti artist Banksy. The countercultural exhibit is housed inside the Tropicana seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare.

It was inevitable that someone, somewhere would create a parody of Disneyland.

During an interview with the Guardian, Banksy was questioned, “What is this thing?”

“In essence it’s a festival of art,” said the Dismaland creator, “amusements and entry-level anarchism. A place where you can get your counterculture easily available over the counter. A theme park for the disenfranchised, with franchises available. I guess you’d say its a theme park whose big theme is – theme parks should have bigger themes.”

“It’s situated in a former lido,” explained Banksy, “that stretches across two-and-a-half acres of heavily fortified beachfront compound, comprising a pool, sun terrace and small amphitheatre. I asked myself: what do people like most about going to look at art? The coffee. So I made an art show that has a cafe, a cocktail bar, a restaurant and another bar. And some art.”

Dismaland features 10 pieces by Banksy, as well as eight other works crafted by no less than 50 other equally-edgy artists, including David Shrigley, Damien Hirst, Bill Barminski, Jenny Holzer, Caitlin Cherry, Josh Keyes, Jimmy Cauty, Espo, and Bäst.

Bizarre attractions featured in the Dismaland exhibit include a phased-out mermaid, a dilapidated Disney-esque castle, a killer whale jumping out of a toilet, a toppled Cinderella pumpkin carriage, and even a dead princess. A children’s slide is adhered to an armor-plated riot control vehicle, “an oil caliphate themed crazy golf course,” and a portrait artist who will only draw the back of your head, according to the Dismaland website, which appears to be so wildly popular it is officially down as of Friday morning.


Dismaland will also host performances from acts like Run the Jewels, DJ Yoda, Sleaford Mods, and Kate Tempest.

“If you’re the kind of person who feels jaded by the over-corporate blandness that passes for family light entertainment,” Banksy continued, “then this is the bespoke leisure opportunity that will connect with your core brand dynamic. It doesn’t so much ask the question, ‘What is the point in art now?’ as ask, ‘What is the point in asking, ‘What is the point in art now?'”

Banksy created Dismaland in part because he believes the current art market only works for people who repeat their expected previous efforts, as reported by Complex.

“The art market certainly doesn’t encourage creativity,” said Banksy to the Guardian. “Like most markets it rewards being able to reliably deliver recognisable product on a regular basis. Which isn’t necessarily a recipe for exciting art. I heard someone on the radio, it might even have been Richard Ashcroft, say: ‘It’s not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster.’ Which is why I’ve spent months making distorted fibreglass fairground sculptures to install in a dirty lido miles from anywhere.”

In a statement to BBC News, Banksy revealed that he loved the Tropicana when he was a kid, and he was thrilled to be able to now house his art show there. Described by the artist as a “family theme park unsuitable for children,” Dismaland is Banksy’s first show in the UK since 2009, when the Banksy v Bristol Museum show drew large crowds.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the park comes with a warning.

“This event contains adult themes, distressing imagery, extended use of strobe lighting, smoke effects and swearing.”

The Dismaland attraction will be open to the public for five weeks, from August 22 to September 27.

[Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images]