NYAPRS Note: Several weeks ago, advocates for people with mental health conditions joined forces to protest Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Fear VR”, an exhibit that was described by an LA Times reporter as follows: “after checking into the mythical Meadowbrook Institute, visitors are strapped into a wheelchair in the psychiatric hospital’s exam room” and offered a virtual reality experience that “follows a demonically possessed patient named Katie, who unleashes chaos throughout the hospital and takes mental control of the medical staff.” (see http://www.latimes.com/travel/themeparks/la-tr-halloween-haunt-virtual-reality-5150-20160905-snap-story.html).
A fast growing national coalition that brought together family consumer and recovery and rights advocates took action to express our outrage over the exhibit both to Knott’s Berry Farm and its owner Cedar Fairs.
As you’ll see below, KBF has taken down the exhibit, a tremendous victory for advocates and a credit to KBF. Here’s the message from KBF’s public relations department that we received a short time ago.
“Knott's Berry Farm is proud of its popular annual Southern California Halloween event, Knott's Scary Farm. For more than 40 years we have delivered unique and immersive haunted experiences to our fans and loyal guests. Our evening attractions are designed to be edgy, and are aimed at an adult-only audience.
Over the past week we have heard from a number of people expressing their concern that one of our temporary, Halloween attractions - Fear VR - is hurtful to those who suffer from mental illnesses . Contrary to some traditional and social media accounts, the attraction's story and presentation were never intended to portray mental illness. As it is impossible to address both concerns and misconceptions in the Halloween timeframe, at this time we have decided to close the attraction".
Congratulations to our ever strengthening movement: we have been heard once again! Last year, we convinced Kenneth Cole to take down a billboard that linked violence to mental health conditions. And now we’ve triumphed again!
Great thanks to all of you who raised your voices to get this done. And special thanks to the MHA of Westchester’s Doris Schwartz who helped link our movement to family advocates in Orange County California…a budding partnership that must be advanced!