A Willy Wonka Event Ended in Disaster. From Its Ashes Rose a Budding Star.

On one chilly evening in March, after the sun had set and when most school-aged children were begrudgingly starting their homework, Felicia Dawkins, 16, enthusiastically hopped on the phone from Scotland to share that her life had changed — for the better.

She introduced herself with the kind of bubbly energy and giddiness that only a teenager can radiate. It is the same energy that drew millions of viewers to her TikTok account, where she unveiled herself as a key participant in a Willy Wonka-themed event that had gone so poorly that its memes briefly took over large portions of the internet and international news coverage went on for days.

That event, in Glasgow in late February, failed to create the dazzling experience it promised. The fallout — in true internet fashion — was swift and brutal. Organizers quickly shut down the event and promised full refunds to disgruntled families.

In the aftermath, the internet latched on to one of the event’s more inexplicable characters, known only as “The Unknown,” played by Felicia. Footage of her performance as an evil chocolate maker who lives in the walls of the factory, which included emerging from behind a mirror to the cries of children, spread widely online, kicking off the teenager’s 15 minutes of fame.

She’s capitalizing now, taking her scaring talents south for a guest appearance at the London Dungeon, a theatrical thrill attraction in the shadow of the city’s London Eye, this weekend. The company reached out to Felicia shortly after her viral moment to offer her an opportunity to train with the performance team and appear in the attraction.

Felicia’s mother, Janet Dawkins, said she had mixed emotions about the Wonka event failing so miserably, and so publicly. “Everything led to her getting all of this, all these opportunities,” Ms. Dawkins said. “So, I can’t really say that I’m mad about anything that went down, if I’m honest.”

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