Great America closes Halloween attraction after mental health advocates protest

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A popular Halloween attraction at California's Great America and Knott's Berry Farm is shutting down after some took to social media calling the display "offensive."

The virtual reality attraction, which essentially focuses on a story line about a possessed patient running wild in a hospital, consists of strapping parkgoers into a chair before they are given VR goggles. If the game becomes too intense for them, customers can press the "panic button."

One person who took to social media was Kay Warren, wife of pastor and author Rick Warren, who lost his son to mental illness.

After receiving backlash from several mental health advocates and "loyal fans," park officials issued a statement saying the attraction has been removed.

The statement read: "California's Great America is proud of its popular annual Halloween Haunt event. For nine 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 - FearVR - 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."

After the announcement, Rick Warren tweeted his appreciation for the park's response.

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