Knott’s Berry Farm, which is home to a virtual reality attraction that reportedly depicts what it is like to be a demonically possessed hospital patient, shut down the attraction after mental health advocates decried it for being inappropriate to those with mental disorders, according to the Los Angeles Times. But a new petition is trying to get the park to reopen the ride.
The attraction was named Fear VR 5150, which are the numbers that authorities use to detain someone who is suffering from a mental disorder and could be dangerous. Some health advocates were a bit disappointed the California-based theme park would base their attraction after such a serious problem. Julia Robinson Shimizu told The Los Angeles Times Knott’s Berry Farm is wrong because it “demonizes people with mental illness.” A statement from the park said they never intended to portray mental illness, but they decided to close the attraction:
“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.”
While Knott’s Berry Farm may have played the safe card in closing down the ride, fans of the attraction see it another way. A petition on Change.org says people are simply misinterpreting the description of the attraction:
“The attraction description states that the antagonist ‘Katie’ is suffering from demonic possession, this has nothing to do with mental illness. If anyone should be mad, it would be the church for making light of the dangers of demonic possession, as likely as that is these days.”
As of Saturday, the petition has been signed by more than 4,500 people, but that explanation they have given may open up another can of worms.