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‘Fear VR’ Halloween attraction closing at Knott’s Berry Farm after mental health advocates rally

in Haunted Attractions, Knott's Berry Farm, Technology, Theme Parks

fear-vr-5150

Virtual Reality made its way into the line-up of attractions at Knott’s Scary Farm this year, but it didn’t last for long. Fear VR, as it was called, was announced with great enthusiasm by Knott’s Berry Farm earlier this month. Unfortunately, it wasn’t met with as much enthusiasm by mental health advocates who have claimed the attraction stigmatized and denigrated mentally ill individuals.

This late in the season, Knott’s found itself unable to correct course with an alternative attraction in response to the community’s campaign against the Fear VR. Instead, it decided to shut down the attraction out of respect for those that struggle with mental illness.

The VR experience revolved around the story of a possessed girl in a mental health facility. It’s original name was Fear VR: 5150, referencing a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that authorizes involuntary confinement of individuals with mental disorders that pose a danger to others or themselves. This was one of the triggers for mental health advocates who felt it was insensitive to families that have had to enact a 5150 for their loved ones.

In a statement put out by Knott’s Berry Farm and its parent company, Cedar Fair,  officials responded to requests for the ride’s closure:

“Over the past week, we have heard from a number of people expressing concern that one of our temporary, Halloween attractions — Fear VR — is hurtful to those who suffer from mental illness. Contrary to some traditional and social media accounts, the attraction’s story and presentation were never intended to portray mental illness.”

 

2 Comments

  1. Garaan

    This is just so stupid to me. Did any of them even DO the attraction? And what’s more, where were these guys when Paranormal Inc. came out (you know, last year)? That maze has way more to do with ‘mental illness’ (and even hot button topics like patient abuse) than FearVR ever did. What’s next? Shutting Dead of Winter down because it trivializes hypothermia? Shutting Shadowlands down because it’s ‘culturally appropriative’? Why not shut down Voodoo because it’s ‘insensitive to a religion’?

    I’m actually angry CF rolled over on this, and didn’t just hand them their money back, pat them on the head, and tell them ‘if it bothers you, don’t go’. I mean… hell, you have to pay EXTRA for FearVR, it’s not like you’re not specifically asking to be freaked out. It sets a bad precedent for other haunts, leaving them open to cyberbullying by people who have a really hard time telling ‘fiction’ from ‘reality’.

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