Stigma is Alive and Well at Knott’s Scary Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park in Orange County, California.  I’ve been there several times, as a child and as an adult with my kids, including Tim.  Every October they turn the park into Knott’s Scary Farm, decked out in all the finest in Halloween regalia.

This year, they announced a new virtual reality experience they have titled FearVR: 5150. From their own website, here’s the description:

Enter the Meadowbrook Institute and witness the abnormal case of a terrifyingly unusual patient named Katie…Disturbingly vivid sights and sounds invade all of your senses. Encounter the darkness that has taken over the medical staff during your fully immersive hospital stay.

If you’re not from California, you may not know that 5150 is  is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) (in particular, the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act or “LPS”) which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental illness that makes them a danger to him or herself, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled.  It’s an involuntary psychiatric hold.

Yet, when several mental illness advocates commented on the Facebook post that the name and premise were horribly stigmatizing, the social media team for Knott’s Scary Farm responded that the game had NOTHING to do with mental illness, but was about zombies.  Then, our threads with our comments were removed.

I’m reaching out to the Public Relations Department at Knott’s Berry Farm for their comment on this attraction’s name and removing our comments.  You can too. Here’s how to contact them:

Knott’s Public Relations Department
8039 Beach Boulevard
Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: (714) 220-5130
Fax: (714) 220-5124
Email: pr@knotts.com

You can click here to access the original Facebook post to comment right on the thread as well.

UPDATE: It seems Cedar Fair Entertainment is highlighting FearVR 5150 in several of their amusement parks this Fall, including California’s Great America and Canada’s Wonderland: http://www.californiacoasterkings.com/fear-vr-5150/

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