Knott's Berry Farm closes Halloween attraction after complaints

The famous Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California, holds its annual Halloween Haunt in the form of Knott's Scary Farm every year since 1973, but one seasonal attraction won't be active this October.

KABC reported that a virtual reality component of the Halloween Haunt called FearVR has been removed from the amusement park following complaints that the ride is insensitive about mental health.

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According to KABC, the attraction included a storyline about a possessed patient running around in a hospital. Park visitors are strapped into chairs and take part in the attraction with VR goggles.

The attraction had the option to press a panic button if the ride became too upsetting for them.

The Orange County Register reported that the original name of FearVR was FearVR: 5150, which is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code that authorizes a qualified officer to involuntarily confine a person who is suspected of having a mental health disorder and is presenting themselves as a threat to themselves or others.

The name was changed when mental health advocates left emails and phone calls with Cedar Fair, Knott's parent company.

Kay Warren, wife of megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren, whose son died of a suicide after battling mental illness, also called out Knott's in a Facebook post Monday.

The park released the following statement:

California's Great America is proud of its popular annual Halloween Haunt event. For nine 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 - FearVR - 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.

California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California, also cancelled the attraction.

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