When Banksy announced his Dismaland installation, both the media and the art world were abuzz with speculation about what it could all mean. A temporary set-up in Weston-super-Mare, a small seaside town close to Banksy’s home of Bristol, England, Dismaland was conceived as something of a dystopian parody of Disneyland. Here are some of the things you can expect should you decide to pay a visit.
1. David Cameron
This poster graces the Cinderella Castle at Dismaland, featuring current Prime Minster David Cameron. For anyone not in the know, David Cameron is a leader of the Conservative Party, often controversial for their views on immigration, public services, and welfare. Banksy is a known critic of both David Cameron and the Conservative Party.
2. Bemusement Park Indeed
On the left you can see one of the brochures available at the part, featuring a variety of characters including Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster and a Grim Reaper. On the right, balloons are available, featuring the message “I am an Imbecile”.
3. A Slaughter-Go-Round
Your child may want to ride the Merry Go Round. But we’re not so sure if your kid would be willing to ride this, a Merry Go Round with a slaughterhouse. If so, take your kid to therapy because he probably needs it. This is one of the many sculptures dotting Dismaland.
Every theme park has one of these, a booth where you can pay for an artist to sketch up some face portraits. But here, it’s a different story. There’s no artist to be seen and instead of happy, garish faces on the wall, you’ve got the back of people’s heads. Even the portraits are apathetic here.
Here’s one of the most popular sculptures to come out of Dismaland. This sculpture, featuring an orca whale leaping out of toilet and through a ring, seems to be a commentary on animal rights and theme park SeaWorld. SeaWorld has been widely criticized within the past couple years due to their treatment of their captive orca whales and dolphins.
6. This Boat Game
No theme park would be complete without coin operated games. Dismaland features a game, which puts you in charge of a boat full of immigrants passing through bleak waters. One can’t help but think of the recent tragedies in Europe, where thousands of migrants on their way to Europe are believed to have perished.
7. Not The Happiest Place on Earth
Dismaland has, of course, a towering copy of Disneyland’s Cinderella castle. But unlike Disney’s version, Banksy’s isn’t a magical landmark on the park’s horizon. Instead, it’s a symbol of corruption and key. The pond is murky and a distorted sculpture of Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” lounges on a river rock.
8. Police Van
It wouldn’t be a Banksy exhibition without musings about police authority. Here we’ve got a decaying police van set in a murky pond right in front of the Cinderella castle. A water slide is poking out of the side, although we can’t imagine it’s the most exciting slide you’ll ever experience.
Right here you can see one of the main signs for Dismaland. The font is directly inspired by Disneyland, although unlike Disneyland’s sign it’s not a cheerful greeting into the park but a warning about the somewhat dismal experience you may encounter in the park. The sign is even weathered and aged as well.
Here we’ve got a sculpture of a hummingbird who seems to be attempting to suck nutrients from a brick wall. Cheerful animals are a key fixture of parks like Disneyland but the park isn’t always friendly to nature either way. If you look closely you can notice what looks like what’s supposed to be blood on the wall where the bird is sucking.
11. Seagulls Attack
Weston-super-Mare is a seaside town so seagulls are to be expected. But you may not necessarily expect them to be in anyone’s face. Here we’ve got a sculpture of a poor female tourist being mobbed by an angry rabble of seagulls. There’s graffiti behind her, which seems to read “Furze”, “mande” and “Platt”.
12. It’s Not Art
This sign speaks to everything that Dismaland and any piece of art stands for. “It’s Not Art Unless It Has the Potential To Be a Disaster”. Honestly, it’s one of the brightest and cheeriest things in the park, next to that giant pinwheel in the background.
13. Trucking Around
One of the most surreal exhibitions at Dismaland? These artfully arranged and twisted trucks. Along with a few games, they brighten up the boardwalk somewhat, although that’s saying a lot for Dismaland.
14. Selfies Here
Want to take the perfect selfie? Dismaland offers you the tools to do so. Visitors are invited to take selfies and pose in front of this display, which criticizes the often self-obsessed culture of today.
15. Cinderella/Princess Diane
This is one of the most infamous sculptures to come out of Dismaland. This sculpture features Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage overturned, her horses in disarray, and Cinderella herself hanging lifeless out of the window while paparazzi stand by and shoot photo after photo. It can be considered either a response to the story of Princess Diane or a critique of celebrity culture.
16. Classic Banksy
This painting, featured at Dismaland, is a little more like classic Banksy. Featuring a pair of boys peering in at a woman taking a shower, it’s a statement about childhood innocence. This is how Banksy got his start, with paintings in this style, and you can see more of his paintings at the park.
17. A Map
And in case you were interested, here is a map of Dismaland to see for yourself. While the park is small, apparently it’s been very, very popular with tourists all around the world. Notable attractions, including some of the sculptures are below. To be honest, you’d probably have a better time here than the rest of Weston-super-Mare.