Every Halloween, theme parks across the country try to out-do one another in horror show antics but for Pastor Rick Warren, “Knott’s Scary Farm” went too far this year.
The Southern California theme park features mazes, special skeleton key rooms, and the usual terror-inducing parade of horribles that jump out and scare the patrons.
But none of that bothered the well-known Saddleback Church pastor as much as the attraction called “FEARVR.”
CBS Local LA describes the exhibit:
“‘FEARVR’ was an extra paid attraction of the park’s annual Knott’s Scary Farm event. Visitors wearing a virtual reality headset would be strapped to a hospital wheelchair during the 10-minute experience.”
This certainly isn’t the first time psychological disorders and mental hospitals have been used to incite terror (see IMDb’s list of horror films set in asylums), but some high profile parents have taken issue with this particular attraction and for very personal reasons.
Pastor Warren’s son committed suicide in 2013 after struggling with mental illness. After Warren heard about the attraction, which he felt made light of mental illness, he sent an email to the amusement park and asked them to shut it down.
Another father — whose schizophrenic son was beaten by Fullerton, CA, police officers in 2011 — also called attention to the exhibit, which initially was called “FEARVR: 5150.” Fifty-one-fifty is California law enforcement code for someone who’s mentally ill.
CBS Local LA reports that Knott’s removed the “5150” from the title right after the attraction opened because of push back, but the attraction name stuck in the minds of mental health advocates.
But now the scary, virtual reality attraction has been closed.