Sometimes things happen at festivals that are outside the control of festival organizers, but that's not to say that many issues can be avoided with proper planning. TomorrowWorld patrons recently went through a nightmare this past weekend as the festival locked out ticket holders and thousands were left stranded outside the festival in the middle of the night. This recent fiasco has generated a major backlash from fans and the media who are reporting on what went down.
In response to the uproar, Debby Wilmsen, the spokesperson for Tomorrowland and TomorrowWorld, made some interesting comments while speaking to Belgian news organization HLN BE. The quotes have been translated from Dutch to English using Google Translate.
Wilmsen was quick to blame outside factors for the terrible conditions.
“It is normal that the tents are wet when it rains five days. There you can as an organization not do anything. That people have far to walk, has to do with the size of the premises. The distances are simply enormous, even in dry weather they would have to step away. It’s no different in Belgium… Many people no longer wanted to wait and begin walking on their own, and they got lost in the woods around Chattahoochee Hills. It is rural America, there is no transport and who does not know his way, soon gets lost.”
The weather definitely played a major roll in the TomorrowWorld mess. Festivals attempt to take measures to avoid the deep muddy ground that patrons walk on, but Wilmsen said there was just too much rain.
“We have done the same as in Belgium. We have hay and wood bark scattered and some parts covered with mats. Chattahoochee Hills is a huge site, we can not completely [make] full set of ramps. It also just kept raining. You can put hay but it will at some point still [get] too wet. And you can not put coverings over 40,000 tents.”
Wilmsen then goes on to blame the media who are reporting on the news. Although we, the media, may only see a small fraction of posts from social media, we have yet to see more positive responses coming out of TomorrowWorld.
“[The US media] focus primarily on what they see via social media visitors. It is also about a small percentage of the visitors… It’s not fun to read on social media how many people are dissatisfied, but on the other hand, there are many more people who have had a very good time.”
The backlash has indeed been great and Wilmsen is not sure how much the festival's reputation had been damaged.
“This is anyway not pleasant, in the first place not for the visitors. But we have to take stock. How big is the reputational damage is difficult to estimate.”
The TomorrowWorld mess is only just beginning to be cleaned up. We'll keep you updated as more news surfaces.