Attraction deemed insensitive to people who care about mental health.
As if the election season isn’t scary enough, the start of October a few days away and Halloween-themed everything can be seen everywhere.
In Southern California, Knotts Berry Farm pulls out all the stops in making its amusement park the scariest place on earth. However, according to some mental health advocates, the newest attraction was too much.
A popular Halloween attraction at Knott’s Berry Farm and California’s Great America was shutting down, officials announced Wednesday, after some took to social media calling the display “offensive” to those suffering from mental illness.
The virtual reality attraction, which essentially focuses on a story line about a possessed patient running wild in a hospital, consists of strapping parkgoers into a chair before they are given VR goggles. If the game becomes too intense for them, customers can press the “panic button.”
The attraction was called FearVR: 5150 (the numbers referring to the California Welfare and Institutions code for psychiatric commitment). Ron Thomas, who lost his mentally ill son when he was beaten by Fullerton police officers, went to see the attraction for himself.
I couldn’t get in,” Thomas said. “There were so many people waiting to get in.”
Instead, he talked to people as they exited and asked them to describe FearVR. They told him they were strapped into seats as if being admitted to a hospital, and then were transported into a frightening scene of mayhem.
“Virtual reality-wise you’re led to believe you’re in some kind of institution,” Thomas said, and a patient “is on the loose … and she’s coming for you.”
…The whole thing sounded wildly inappropriate to Thomas, whose son was in and out of mental facilities in his years-long struggle with schizophrenia.
However, not all of Knotts Berry’s patrons are happy with this decision.
How politically correct are we as a society, that now @Knotts had to cancel its FearVR 5150 Halloween attraction. SMH
— FB5YSᴴᴰ (@FB5YS) September 28, 2016
— LINZ STANLEY (@LinzStanley) September 28, 2016
Hope the “mental health advocates” are gonna pay the salaries of those who staffed #FearVR and what they would have made the next month
— Park Journey (@Park_Journey) September 28, 2016
Dealing with mental illness is a challenge, no doubt. However, the park did not open up this attraction to mock, abuse, or diminish those who suffer for psychiatric disorders. It was opened to entertain visitors with images of horror and terror, as appropriate to the Halloween season and the park’s history of extravagance at this time of year.
Those who didn’t want to see this attraction weren’t being forced to do so. However, now others who might have enjoyed this experience, simply because they liked the scare, don’t get to because of activists and advocates.
That, I think, is the most chilling part of this story.DONATE
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