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Inside Banksy’s Dismaland

Dismaland, the warped “bemusement park” in the U.K. created by world-renowned street artist Banksy, will soon come to an end on September 27. Pre-sale tickets sell out almost as quickly as they they’re released and non-ticketed fans have reported waiting for hours to enter, with many not getting in. But don’t fret. Hipmunk has the insider tips to increase the likelihood of feasting on today’s established and up and coming artists handpicked by the mystery man himself.

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What is it and why bother?

Dismaland is “modeled on those failed Christmas parks that pop up every December,” according to Banksy. On the surface it feels like a dreary parody of Disneyland mixed with freak show panache including grimy Disney characters. It’s an interactive experience that mocks the generic experience of theme parks, complete with shoddy rides, mediocre games, sub-par prizes and miserable staff. Although Dismaland includes street art, it’s not a Banksy’s show. The spectacle boasts 61 artists from 17 countries, including controversial artist Damien Hirst.

Where is it and how to get there?

Dismaland is set on the dilapidated, now defunct, water park in the U.K.’s seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare, in the county of Somerset in South West England. It’s about a three-hour bus ride from London, depending on traffic. The most affordable way to get there from London is on local bus company Berry’s Coaches, although times are limited. A round trip ticket is about £25 from London’s Hammersmith station to a drop off point in Weston-Super-Mare, only an 11-minute walk from Dismaland. National Express Coaches from London’s Victoria Station offer more frequent services for about £50 depending on when and how far in advance tickets are booked.  A National Rail train is the most expensive option, with tickets as high as £100 or more, but is also the most flexible with times and dates.

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How much is it and how to get tickets?

Entrance to Dismaland is only £3 at the door or £5 for online pre-sale tickets, service fee included. There are four time slots to choose from: 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. on most nights. Make sure to check the online calendar. Tickets are only released through the official Dismaland website about a week in advance, so beware of scalpers.

I didn’t get an online ticket. Now what?

Don’t be discouraged as most people will have to wait in line, but be in it for the long-haul. Minimum wait time is probably about four hours, but with the hype building and the show ending soon, most likely way more. The park stops selling tickets at the door at 1 p.m. and then starts selling tickets again at 3 p.m. Stay in line when ticket sales stop at 1 p.m. as many people get discouraged and leave, which means the line moves forward. Plan to go during the week instead of a weekend when lines are expected to be shorter—although “shorter” is relative.

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Take your shoes off, spend the night.

It’s probably best to have an overnight excursion and go to Weston-Super-Mare the day before you’re planning on going to Dismaland to be one of the first to join the line, or queue as the Brits say. Weston-Super-Mare is a lovely seaside town with former terraced houses turned quaint bedsits near the shore. Stay at the Beverly Guest House or the Oakover Guest House, both only minutes from the train station and Dismaland. Visit the town’s Helicopter Museum, stroll along the Grand Pier or explore the SeaQuarium. The Paddle Steamer Waverly and the MV Balmoral offer day trips Knightstone Island north of the town.  Somerset is also well-known for cider. Visit the Thatchers Cider farm a few towns away in Sanford.

Other things to consider

The wait will be long so take some snacks and drinks or pack a lunch. There is a fish and chip shop about a 15 minute walk away from Dismaland. There are portable toilets available on site stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Once inside the park, there are food stands featuring pizza and falafel wraps, coffee and beer. Make friends with the people in line. Not only will it make the wait go faster, but they can hold places in line. Note that once inside, much like other theme parks there will be more queues to see and ride the other attractions. But once inside, visitors are allowed to stay until the park closes at 6 p.m. or longer for ticket holders with evening ticket slots. Also, don’t be insulted by the rude park workers in Mickey Mouse ears and pink vests. It’s all part of the Dismal experience.

All photos courtesy of JoAnn DeLuna