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Under pressure from mental health advocates, Knott’s shuts down controversial attraction

Knott's Berry Farm Halloween Haunt 2010.
Knott's Berry Farm Halloween Haunt 2010.
Ricky Brigante/Flickr

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Every year Knott’s Berry Farm tries to cook up something special to celebrate Halloween. But one of its attractions this year has hit a nerve in the mental health community.

In the Los Angeles Times, Steve Lopez details in his latest column the theme park’s decision to close an attraction that opened last week called Fear VR. The ride is premised on the supposed horrors of a mental institution, and features a cast of characters including a girl that is possessed by demons.

After receiving complaints from mental health advocates over its insensitive depictions, the theme park has decided to close down the ride, even as it dismisses charges from critics.

Here's Knott's statement to AirTalk:

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. 


Robert Liljenwall, Vice President, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Los Angeles County Council