Amanda Riley, a 22-year-old model and Instagram influencer, recounted the chaos she experienced attempting to attend the Fyre Festival in the Bahamas to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday — even though she didn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to attend.
With the help of Hollywood’s most glamorous models and influencers, including Riley, Fyre Festival was promoted as music festival heaven for those willing to shell out $1,500 to $12,000, with those who bought VIP passes getting access to a yacht.
But when attendees arrived at the venue, all they found was chaos — no luxurious housing, no gourmet meals and no musical acts. Festival-goers shared images on social media of their disappointing meals — cheese splayed on bread with a small salad for dinner — and their accommodations, which were little more than relief tents and mattresses. Attendees also complained about the lack of services and overall chaos involved in trying to get to the actual festival.
On the morning of the festival, co-organizer Billy McFarland told Rolling Stone a “bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes,” while guests began to arrive. That was when he said the organizers realized, “Wow, we can’t do this.”
For her part, Riley recounted her end of the deal: promoting the festival in exchange for free VIP passes and flights, which included a January Instagram post captioning, “GUYS I GOT MY TIX TO @fyrefestival 🔥💯🌴👙🌞.” She did not make it to the festival, though.
“I was in L.A. about six months ago when I was offered these tickets — everything paid for. The organizers were trying to get a lot of promotion from models. A couple of friends and I were going to go; everything was paid and comped in exchange for a couple of posts to help them with marketing.”
She also recounted a note of warning from a friend already there.
“We were at the gate in Miami, and we had all of our wristbands. And I started getting texts from a really good friend of mine who was in the Bahamas, and he said it’s an absolute disaster: ‘Don’t come.’ And I thought, ‘Well, I didn’t pay for anything, and we were supposed to be in villas (not the tents).’ And apparently, these tents weren’t even made. There was no air conditioning, the beds were soaking wet and people were outside in the pouring rain.”
She said she received “tons of photos and videos” from people that were there, including the now infamous photo of a Styrofoam box of chopped-up romaine lettuce, two slices of bread and a piece of cheese on it.
While she wrote other goers “weren’t as lucky and wound up without a place to sleep” once they arrived in the Bahamas, she was still in Miami due to flight cancellations. Eventually all the flights were cancelled and Riley had to find a friend to stay with in Miami before she could return home.
She noted that everyone she knows is “safe and back in Miami,” but they had to spend money on “hotels and things that were supposed to be already paid for.”
“I met a bunch of people at the airport, and I met these two girls from Orange County and they said that they spent $3,000 each on an all-inclusive hotel, flight, food, whatever. And there was general admission, VIP and the artists’ black wristbands. There were different hotel accommodations, everything. And then others had the very minimal general admission, in a tent. And they spent $3,000,” she said of the whopping price tag. “And I’m getting all these emails from Fyre saying something like ‘Sorry about this confusion and the outcome of this. We’re going to reimburse you.’ There’s another email that says, ‘Please hold off. We’re going to reschedule.’ So people are worried they’re not going to get reimbursed now or they’re trying to hold their money and do it again. It’s a big mess.”
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The model concluded, “I’m staying out of it because I’m kind of complete with it. My friends and family are safe. And I didn’t pay for anything. So I just don’t want anything to do with that company anymore or deal with these people.”
“Thank you for all your continued patience and understanding. We apologize for what all of our guests and staff went through over the last 24 hours and will work tirelessly to make this right. Please check our official social media channels (@fyrefestival) for further important updates,” the statement said.
The festival also assured that everyone would be refunded — and promised ticket-holders free VIP passes for the 2018 Fyre Festival, which they said would be taking place somewhere in the U.S.