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Public outcry forced a theme park to shut down its mental hospital-themed Halloween ride


Public outcry forced a theme park to shut down its mental hospital-themed Halloween ride

WATCH  | The Knotts Berry Farm theme park throws their annual Halloween event, "Knotts Scary Farm" from September 22nd to October 31st. Their new attraction, Fear VR, was open for one weekend until it was closed down due to complaints from mental health advocates. 


A scary SoCal tradition for 43 years

Knotts Berry Farm in Southern California has held its "Scary Farm" Halloween-themed attraction every year since 1973, featuring temporary rides and scary but family friendly experiences .

Fear VR was initially named Fear VR 5150. The number 5150 is the official state code giving clinicians the authority to restrain and confine a person with a mental disorder that could pose a danger to others or themselves.

Knott's Berry Farm is horrifying because it demonizes people with mental illness.
Julia Robinson Shimizu

Roaming a mental hospital

Fear VR featured a crazed patient roaming through a mental hospital while thrill seekers were strapped in chairs wearing VR headsets.

Many derided the attraction's depiction of mental illness. Julia Robinson Shimizu, a Los Angeles resident, wrote an open letter to a Los Angeles Times editor sharing her view of the haunted attraction. 

Close Fear VR completely

The attraction remained open through last weekend. But due to the many complaints, Knotts decided to close Fear VR completely.

The amusement park said in a statement to the LA Times that over the past week they had heard a number of people expressing concerns about Fear VR  to those who experience mental illnesses. 

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Tickets to visit the haunted amusement park cost $40 and despite controversy regarding the   attraction, thousands have signed a petition to reopen Fear VR.  Knotts said they would not offer ticket refunds for the attraction.

Would you visit Fear VR?

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