Visiting Banksy’s Dismaland – Video and Photos

A few weekends ago, I was making a trip back to my hometown of Weston-super-Mare. The day before I arrived, Banksy had unveiled a new exhibition/theme park called Dismaland. Situated on the seafront in an abandoned outdoor swimming pool – known fondly by locals as the Tropicana – this “Bemusement Park” is self-described as the UK’s worst new attraction and is filled with dark humour, political satire and artistic representations of some of humanity’s current guilty sins. It’s a perfect view of what’s currently wrong within today’s society and popular culture.

I went along to Dismaland on the opening weekend and put together this video of the whole event; take a look at it below and then carry on reading for more thoughts and photos from Dismaland.

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The fact it’s located inside a closed public lido, once a thriving venue of the British seaside, but now an abandoned eyesore on the seafront, emphasises the entire point and cynicism of Dismaland. From the entrance, mocking the nanny state of health and safety and big brother watchdogs, to the inequalities in wealth and class divides. Dismaland really attacks the current state of our nation hard, in a powerful, humorous and intelligent way.

Banksy's Dismaland sign

There are installations from over 50 different artists; each with their own agenda to world crises, and a shared vision of mockery and a hunger to raise awareness. There are a few fair ground style attractions throughout Dismaland. “Hook a duck from the muck” is a game in response to large oil spills and environmental damage, inviting people to hook ducks from oil polluted waters. Another such game is “Mini gulf”, a small putting course, with holes running through oil barrels and petrol containers in a litter strewn desert.

Banksy's Dismaland mini gulf

You can even take a ride on a carousel, complete with a butcher and boxes of lasagne, reminiscent of the European horse meat scandal from a couple of years ago.

Banksy's Dismaland dolphin-ride

Upholding the theme of a seaside theme park, there are small “rides” such as this tangled dolphin.

One of the more controversial installations due to current world events is the miniature boats filled with refugees in the water at the white cliffs of Dover. Of course the sad underlying reality of this installation is that no matter how much you drive the boats around, there is nowhere for them to go.

Each installation is initially entertaining, with a subdued message that I was surprised to see go above many people’s awareness. I guess, a point proven why these sorts of events are always successful.

Banksy's Dismaland shooting range
Banksy's Dismaland needle stack

Possibly my favourite piece in Dismaland, was the miniature model city showing scenes in the aftermath of what appears to be mass rioting. The detail and scale of the whole piece was fascinating and very representative of current political affairs and an uprising to governments.

Banksy's Dismaland  mini city
Banksy's Dismaland  mini city
Banksy's Dismaland  mini city

I was however very surprised to see people completely miss the point of the Cinderella carriage crash inside the park’s castle. It’s not a stab at Disney. It’s showing how the media is so intrusive to the point that it can actually lead to people dying. In this case, the tragedy of Princess Diana’s death visualised with Cinderella and the paparazzi. I honestly can’t believe how many people I overheard who didn’t get this reference.

Cinderella hanging out of her carriage with the paparazzi following her

Princess Diana’s Death is represented as the death of Cinderella, caused by a crazy media following.

The whole theme park is essentially a showcase of huge political statements with underlying tones of anti-consumerism – everything that Banksy’s art is so well known for. I highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area. It’s not quite the most disappointing bemusement park you can buy a ticket for.

Banksy's Dismaland view 3
Banksy's Dismaland bench roll
Banksy's Dismaland balloon
Banksy's Dismaland ferris wheel
Banksy's Dismaland mediocre
Banksy's Dismaland Stage

There have been many live events at Dismaland from DJs and Artists such as Fatboy Slim, Mos Def and Massive Attack

Dismaland is only open until September 27th in Weston-super-Mare, so get there quick if you want to see it!


Let me know in the comments below what you think of Dismaland if you’re planning to go or if you’ve already been!

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  1. It is quite frightening at how much of this went over people’s heads.

    I also think that North Somerset Council should be applauded for putting it on as a lot of the irony is against them. That’s assuming that they realised that.

    1. Absolutely, I felt quite silly spelling out the point of the Cinderella carriage in this post, but literally no one recognised it when I was there!

      It had crossed my mind whether the council weren’t aware it was a Banksy event? Just like the exhibition at Bristol Museum a few years ago, where they agreed to “an international artist’s event”. If they *are* fully aware of the circumstances, I guess they’re just swallowing their pride and trying to get on people’s sides, whilst making some money in the process.

  2. Joshua Maguire

    Hey Joe
    Your quite right about the swimming pool as another person who lives in Somerset and Avon i think we all know really went down 😉 just like the pier that burnt down by a total accident good to see another creative from Somserset and Avon area 🙂

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