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Banksy's Tragic Kingdom really takes the Mickey; Graham Young visits Banksy's depressingly brilliant Dismaland at Weston-super-Mare.

Byline: Graham Young

ONE thing is guaranteed about a visit to the dystopian Dismaland - it's so "bad" that you cannot be truly disappointed.

As the seaside day out that sets out to be the pits, your expectations can only be raised once you finally enter the downbeat security zone on your way into the "Bemusement Park".

On our visit, rain had turned the once grassy path outside of the ticket cabin into a rock festival-style mudbath.

Even so, the constant showers did little to dampen the enthusiasm of those queuing alongside us for what turned out be 75 minutes.

In deadpan fashion, the deliberately sour-faced staff told us we couldn't be any more miserable they were feeling in their pink hi-vis jackets and Mickey Mouse-style ears.

The event has been organised by Bristol artist Banksy, who was inspired by his own childhood memories of visiting the now semi-derelict Tropicano on Marina Parade, Weston-super-Mare, the so-called Birmingham-on-Sea.

Despite Weston's seafront and pier having been completely remodelled in recent years, the 2.5-acre site - which had the largest open air swimming pool in Europe when it opened in 1937 - has been closed since 2000.

Banksy spotted its potential for a deliberately "dismal" reminder of how bad some British summer holidays can be, especially when it rains.

Or if portable toilets are your only option.

In his first exhibition since 2009, Banksy has contributed ten of his own works, alongside pieces from 58 other artists (including Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer and Jimmy Cauty) from 17 different countries.

Dismaland's outdoor attractions range from a cinema showing short films (which some laughing visitors clearly enjoyed watching from wet deckchairs) to a post-apocalyptic ice cream van doubling up as a kiosk selling the programme, good value for PS5. There's a killer whale jumping out of a toilet and a poster which simply says: "Since 1990, 1513 people have died in police custody or following police contact. Not a single officer has been convicted for any of their deaths."

The central attraction is a distressed Disney-style castle which houses an exhibition of a crashed Cinderella being flashbombed Diana-style by the paparazzi.

Other delicate artworks are also housed indoors.

They include paintings of broken seaside attractions by Jeff Gillette - who was born within a mile of the Magic Kingdom in California - to a giant mushroom cloud (that's also a tree house) made from cotton fibres by Australian artist Dietrich Wegner whose explanation for the work sums up Dismaland's inevitable mixture of highs and lows.

"The ephemeral beauty of a mushroom cloud is frightening, how it floats for a minute, delicate and blooming, yet remains chaotic and utterly destructive," says Dietrich.

"We experience a contradiction between what our eyes enjoy and what our mind knows."

Dismaland's best exhibits make you question everyday reality by subverting your expectations of what is 'normal', but don't expect the fun, fear, smells and adrenalin of a traditional seaside fairground trip.

Clever and shallow in equal measure, parts of Dismaland really do turn out to be rubbish.

If it fails to impress, it will be your own fault for paying to get in.

Dismaland, Marine Parade, Weston-super-Mare is open daily until September 27, from 11am-11pm. Entry costs PS3 on the door (limited availability) - free for the under fives - or visit the ticket page www.dismaland.co.uk and book a time slot for guaranteed entry (but note that many blocks of time sell out within minutes of release).

A glum-looking steward wearing Mickey Mouse ears outside Dismaland, created at a derelict seafront lido

The central attraction is a distressed Disney-style castle which houses an exhibition of a crashed Cinderella being flashbombed Diana-style by the paparazzi '

CAPTION(S):

The outdoor cinema at Dismaland

Cinderella is flashbombed after crashing her pumpkin carriage

A woman is attacked by seagulls in a piece by Banksy

A killer whale jumps out of a toilet, by Banksy

The remote-controlled boats at Dismaland are filled with refugees

Banksy's mermaid and distressed fantasy castle at Dismaland, a temoporary project organised by the secretive street artist in Weston-super-Mare

Mushroom cloud by Deitrich Wegner

A woman buys a programme from a blackened ice cream van inside a soggy Dismaland

Big Rig Jig, an artwork by Mike Ross <B

A Banksy painting showing a wave looming over an unsuspecting mother and child
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 10, 2015
Words:717
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