We’re walking a very thin line with this one, but everything about this scenario is infuriating to haunt fans. Just 2 weeks ago, Knott’s Berry Farm and California’s Great America had announced that they’ll be adding an upcharged VR experience to the park’s line-up. Produced by maze designer Jon Cooke, this experience sits you in a wheelchair and simulates the supernatural world inside of a mental asylum gone awry.
Well apparently the concept alone was enough to get this whole experience pulled at both parks by someone who did not even experience it. That’s right. The “experience” was described as insensitive to the mentally ill, by a man who personally has a history of (and has been charged for) neglecting their own mentally ill son. It was a terribly tragic case but highly publicized. Regardless, forget the creative teams who worked on this project, or the charity work that Jon Cooke (the designer) has done for metal illness awareness. Apparently now, if the thought of something makes you uncomfortable, you can now have it pulled. The politically correct bug has struck again as folks who should not be going to haunts to begin with are once again ruining these events for the people that actually enjoy them.
The worst thing about this is this gentleman, did not even experience FearVR! He based his complaints from what other people had told him. So based on what he heard, he assumed it was insensitive to mentally ill, when the entire experience has NOTHING to do with mentally ill at all! It’s about a rogue patient who has telekinetic powers and causes what happens to you during this experience. INFURIATING!
This isn’t the first time that Asylum haunts have been targeted either. A few years back, a group successfully got Carowinds to remove their Asylum attractions for the same reasons. Asylums are a staple of the haunt genre. They do not target the mentally ill, but usually the conditions that many of the now defunct asylums were known to have. Back before the huge turn of medical attention that mental illness had gotten, many things were treated as mental illness, from being a lesbian, to masturbating, and even having a sense of sarcasm. Many mentally ill people were drugged, ignored, and forced to live in horrible conditions. Terrible things happened there, and usually it’s these terrible things that are focused on in a haunt, because in the haunts these terrible things are what triggers the meltdown that makes these patients get violent.
Events like Knott’s Scary Farm, Halloween Haunt and Horror Nights are designed to make you uncomfortable. They push the envelope of the behavior you expect, because it takes you out of your comfort zone, and makes you easier to scare. You go to get scared, and experience things that would otherwise not be politically correct. That’s the fun of these events!
What’s going on in this country? Every year it seems we need to publish an article about something haunt related being taken away because 1 or 2 people did not like it, despite the tens of thousands of guests who enjoy these offerings a night, remain quite. A few years ago it was the discontinuation of Bill and Ted because a blogger got butthurt and made national news about the show being “homophobic”. That same writer tried to make headlines again last year because he thought the Knott’s show, The Hanging, was “shitty”. Then a teenage girl made headlines when she was insulted at Halloween Horror Nights during a Purge auction. The teen was clearly seen laughing on video. If things continue, Halloween and events that support them, are in danger. The parks and people that put them on will continue to water them down until people stop going and that’s a trend we continue to see year after year.
According to several insiders, it wasn’t one person, but a group of people who not only started a petition, but also wrote threats to the companies involved.
There is now a counter petition that is urging the company to reopen the attraction, and put a disclaimer that states, in plain English, that this attraction is not making light of Mental Illness, but focusing instead on a paranormal activity that takes place in a research facility. Sign the petition here! Currently there are more who want the haunt than those who oppose it.
We’ll keep you updated on this story as it develops. Until then, if you experienced FearVR, let Cedar Fair know how much you enjoyed it! I am willing to bet the folks who cut the attraction, also have not experienced it.
For more information about Knott’s Berry Farm or to purchase tickets, visit the official website by clicking here.