*Earlier this week, MHANYS, NYAPRS and many national organizations sent out
information to our list serve about the Knott’s Berry Farm’s ‘Fear VR”—a
virtual ride that simulated someone trapped in a wheelchair in a
psychiatric hospital. Through the voices of thousands of advocates across
the country, Knott’s Berry Farm has agreed not to launch this ride. As we
have consistently said in New York State (and rings true across the
Country), mental health advocates when unified are an incredibly strong
voice. On the separate topic of mental health education in schools, we
already know that thousands of calls have been generated in support. These
are true testaments to the strength of the mental health community. *

*Listed below is a note from our friends at NYAPRS about the successful
campaign to stop this exhibit and also acknowledges the work of nationwide
advocates including Doris Schwartz of the MHA in Westchester for playing
such an integral role in this campaign.*

NYAPRS Note: Several weeks ago, advocates for people with mental health
conditions joined forces to protest Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Fear VR”, an
exhibit that was described by an LA Times reporter as follows: “after
checking into

the mythical Meadowbrook Institute, visitors are strapped into a wheelchair
in the psychiatric hospital’s exam room” and offered a virtual reality
experience that “follows a demonically possessed patient named Katie, who
unleashes chaos throughout the hospital and takes mental control of the
medical staff.” (see

www.latimes.com/travel/themeparks/la-tr-halloween-haunt-virtual-reality-5150-20160905-snap-story.html).

A fast growing national coalition that brought together family consumer and
recovery and rights advocates took action to express our outrage over the
exhibit both to Knott’s Berry Farm and its owner Cedar Fairs.

As you’ll see below, KBF has taken down the exhibit, a tremendous victory
for advocates and a credit to KBF. Here’s the message from KBF’s public
relations department that we received a short time ago.

“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.”

Congratulations to our ever strengthening movement: we have been heard once
again! Last year, we convinced Kenneth Cole to take down a billboard that
linked violence to mental health conditions. And now we’ve triumphed again!

Great thanks to all of you who raised your voices to get this done. And
special thanks to the MHA of Westchester’s Doris Schwartz who helped link
our movement to family advocates in Orange County California…a budding
partnership that must be advanced!

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