Just days after their Halloween haunts made their debut, California’s Great America and Knott’s Berry Farm have pulled the plug on their newest offering, FearVR, because of concerns that the attraction could be “hurtful to those who suffer from mental illness.”
The move comes after mental health advocates in Southern California protested the virtual reality story line about a possessed patient running amok in a hospital. Parkgoers are strapped into chairs, given VR goggles and told to press the “panic button” if the experience becomes overwhelming.
A statement issued Tuesday night by Cedar Fair, parent company of the Santa Clara and Buena Park theme parks, said the “edgy, adult-only” attraction was never meant to “portray mental illness.” However, “As it is impossible to address both concerns and misconceptions in the Halloween timeframe, at this time we have decided to close the attraction.”
A Southern California mental health advocate, Kay Warren, praised the decision. “I’m so grateful (Cedar Fair) listened to the voices of the mental health community,” she told the Orange County Register.
On Wednesday, over 2000 fans and media gathered at the Charles Schulz Theater at Knott's Berry Farm to learn about the upcoming offerings at the 2013 Haunt event. Various leaders and designers of the annual Haunt hosted the event and gave some background information on not only what was new but the new experiences guests would be having at this year's Haunt.
This year, Knott's Scary Farm Haunt is in its 41st year and is recognized as one of the best theme park haunt events in the world. First announced, were the returning mazes. Among those are Trick or Treat, Pinocchio Unstrung, Delirium, Endgames, and The Slaughterhouse. The Witch's Keep will also be returning still as a ride through the transformed Calico Mine Train. In addition scare zones will also be returning that include CarnEvil, Ghost Town, Gypsy Camp, and Necropolis.
The most anticipated announcements were to see what the designers had up their sleeves for new additions to Haunt this year. Six new mazes are going t be added this year. Here is a title and brief description of each according to Knott's Berry Farm:
Dominion of the Damned:
"The Blood Queen’s reign has ended as she goes to regenerate after her long reign. In the new cycle ancient vampire lore decrees there shall always be one to rule the damned... Long live the King!"
"The twisted mind of Edgar Allen Poe comes alive as the “Forevermore Killer” works his way through one haunting tale after another. All the victims, driven mad by a combination of drugs and torture, unwittingly find themselves a part of “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Masque of Red Death” among others. Guests will want to catch up on their reading to stay a chapter ahead of their demise."
"The veil between the living and the dead is severed when Houdini’s ghost materializes during a séance and ushers a host of demonic illusions to play tricks on anyone who intrudes on his theatre. From the prop room to the main stage this dilapidated theatre will make visitors skin crawl. Will you be part of the disappearing act?"
"Return to the Old West and walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path to retribution against a corrupt township. This journey back in time takes guests on a trail of terror through abandoned gold mines, a treacherous corral, a seedy saloon and a final showdown at town hall."
"Enter a world where madness is just a looking glass away. What is real and what is an illusion? A cursed mirror absorbs everyone into a mechanical wasteland of despair. Hideous creatures of beauty and horror stalk the mirror world, hoping to draw another victim into a nightmarish labyrinth."
Trapped: The New Experiment
"Making its debut in 2012, Trapped was Knott’s Scary Farm’s first reservation only, interactive maze - and was an immediate sell-out. Trapped returns bigger and more intense than its predecessor. For those lucky enough to secure a reservation, Trapped will offer a longer running time, more challenging puzzles, more mind-bending contraptions and more in-your-face scares."
In addition to the mazes being announced, attendees also got a sneak peak at the live entertainments offerings that will be unique to haunt this year. Included in those shows are the hanging, Carny Trash, Blood Drums, Academy of Villains, and Cursed. Possibly the biggest announcement of the evening came when legendary actress Elvira appeared on stage to announce that she would be returning to Knott's for an all new show titled Elvira's Sinema Séance.