What was meant to be a luxurious, three-day music festival in the Bahamas district of Exuma quickly crashed and burned this weekend. Fyre Festival goers arrived in the Caribbean island paradise to find little to no staffers, nonexistent rooms to sleep in, and complete disarray — despite being promised (and paying thousands of dollars for) a deluxe festival experience.
Amanda Riley, 22, was one of the models and Instagram influencers invited by the festival to attend for free, in exchange for promotional posts on social media. Below, she recounts to The Hollywood Reporter the chaos of the past 24 hours.
I was in L.A. about six months ago when I was offered these tickets — everything paid for. They’re trying to get a lot of promotion from models. A couple friends and I were going to go, everything was paid and comped. We got tickets from the festival which is great that we didn’t have to spend all this money. I have friends that spent, you know, a couple thousand dollars and are worried that they’re not gonna get refunded. I got these tickets in exchange for a couple posts to help them with marketing.
On Tuesday, I had a red eye flight, got to New York and my bag gets lost in New York. And I had this small suitcase that had all my bikinis, everything I need for Fyre Festival, because it was my plan to go for four days. I land in New York, I had to go to my apartment. Turns out I actually had to move all my stuff into storage because I can’t move into my new apartment until May 1, so I don’t have my apartment for the week. I’m like, “It’s perfect that I’m going to the Bahamas.”
So I hop on my flight. I’m by myself because my cousin who I invited as my plus-one wasn’t supposed to come until today. So I’m by myself on this flight in New York. I land in Miami. And all these kids. It’s all a bunch of like really good looking, super excited people. Everyone’s super pumped, but, you know, there’s all this controversy and all these rumors going around about it you know?
And we get to Miami. We’re at the gate. And we have all of our wristbands. And I’m 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 was like, “well I didn’t pay for anything, and we were supposed to be in villas. Not these tents.” And apparently, these tents weren’t even made. Like there was no air conditioning. The beds were soaking wet. We’re outside in the pouring rain.
I was getting photos and photos and photos and videos of people that were there and they had a Styrofoam box of like chopped up romaine lettuce, two slices of bread, and a piece of cheese on it.
One group didn’t have their suitcases because they landed in the Bahamas — this is a story that I was told from my ex-boyfriend that was there — they took all their suitcases and the staffers were like, ‘Oh, go hang out at the beach. We’re going to assign you rooms.’ They were on the beach for six hours, with none of their stuff. None of their chargers. So everyone’s phones are dying. And so a couple people like found a local hotel and grabbed their bags. Other people that were screwed didn’t have a place to sleep.
Meanwhile, I’m in Miami. All the flights to Exuma get canceled. So I don’t have a hotel in Miami. I don’t have a flight back to New York. I don’t have an apartment in New York. I start panicking. And I’m by myself. Luckily I found some friends. I posted on Facebook, “I’m in Miami for Fyre Festival this weekend. Who’s here? I’m all by myself.” I found some friends. Thank God. I met up with some friends, got a hotel room and decided to stay in Miami for the weekend.
My ex-boyfriend was still in the Bahamas and slept at Exuma’s airport overnight, because they kept telling them there was a flight coming like every thirty minutes. They didn’t end up leaving the Bahamas until 9 a.m.
And now my friends and everyone from what I know are safe and everyone’s back in Miami and figured their own thing out. But they spent all this money. Now they don’t have their flights back to L.A. or New York or wherever until Sunday or Monday. They have to upfront all this money for hotels and all this stuff that was supposed to be already paid for. I got lucky because mine was a promotional deal.
I was one of the models they asked to come out. I’m not having to upfront any money which is nice. I just got kind of lucky. Worst case, I have to buy my one flight back to New York. But that’s probably about it. The people that gave us these whole promotional deals and marketing packages said that whatever we have to pay for, they’ll reimburse us. They also got my flight separately from New York to Miami. So I’m just kind of waiting for what happens Sunday. I don’t really know yet.
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. They were all different hotel accommodations, everything. And they had the very minimal, GA, in a tent. And they spent $3,000. 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 like, “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 ol’ mess.
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’m not looking to get reimbursed or anything so I just don’t want anything to do with that company anymore or deal with these people.
The multiple emails sent by festival organizers to attendees on Friday:
This story originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.