Thorpe Park: Close down the stigmatising Asylum maze
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Thorpe Park: Close down the stigmatising Asylum maze

    1. Katie Sutton
    2. Petition by

      Katie Sutton

      Stockport, United Kingdom

Asylum, Thorpe Park's Halloween maze, is stigmatising to mental illness, but the park have stated that they will not rename or close the attraction as they haven't received a "serious level of complaint". In taking this stance, Merlin Entertainments demonstrate that they are more interested in profits than in reducing the harm their attractions do to real people.

I am a student mental health nurse, and I have had clinical depression for more than half of my life. I launched this campaign in the hope of demonstrating to Thorpe Park what a "serious level of complaint" looks like.

I'm not out to ruin anyone's Halloween - I'm a big fan of theme parks and rollercoasters, and love adrenaline-pumping fun as much as the people defending the maze. All I'm asking is that Thorpe Park stop using mental illness to boost their profits, by closing or renaming the Asylum maze. I don't consider any other part of their Fright Night attraction to be stigmatising, so I have no problem with the rest of it or the park in general! Fright Night features six attractions, so losing Asylum wouldn't be ruining Hallowe'en at all.

Thorpe Park have made a connection between a scary maze and mental health problems, by referring to their actors as patients "taking over" an asylum. I am standing against Thorpe Park in this matter because I feel it's really damaging to the public perception of what people with mental illnesses, such as myself, are like.

However, Thorpe Park have excused the maze, claiming that Asylum is "a fantastical experience which is not intended to be a realistic portrayal of a mental health institution" (and yet they refuse to accept the stigma they are perpetuating).

By stark contrast, Asda recently responded to similar accusations of perpetuating stigma by removing the offending products from sale and donating the £25,000 they would have taken in profits to mental health charities.

Please join me in demanding that Thorpe Park issue a proper apology for the offence and damage they have caused, as well as closing or renaming the attraction, and making a donation to Time to Change, a charity which fights mental health stigma.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 6,000 signatures
    2. Petition delivery

      Katie Sutton
      Petition Organizer

      On Wednesday 30th October, we are going to deliver the petition by hand to Thorpe Park, and we'd like a small group (10-20 people) of our supporters to join us for a photo opportunity. For more details of where and when to meet, tweet at Katie (@caffeinurse).

      We'd like a combination of people in Hallowe’en fancy dress, and people dressed as "mental patients” - by which, of course, we mean dressed as yourselves!

      THIS IS NOT A PROTEST! Bring fun, laughter (and mental health charity placards/banners if you have them) and be sure to contact Katie (@caffeinurse) for details of where/when to meet if you want to come.

    3. Reached 5,000 signatures
    4. BBC Surrey Interview

      Katie Sutton
      Petition Organizer

      BBC Surrey interviewed me on their breakfast show this morning; here's an Audioboo clip of the segment. The Guardian's Society pages have also written a brilliant piece on the campaign ( and I talked to LBC's Iain Dale this evening about the background issues - I'll post a link to that when it's available.

    5. Reached 1,000 signatures
    6. News coverage

      Katie Sutton
      Petition Organizer

      I have spoken to several national news organisations today including the BBC and Nursing Standard, and will be speaking live on BBC Surrey's Breakfast show tomorrow morning. Please continue to spread the petition widely, and recruit supporters!

    7. Reached 100 signatures
    8. "Asylum" was once "Freezer"

      Katie Sutton
      Petition Organizer

      The attraction, it transpires, used to be called The Freezer: - we can only assume they changed it to drive more people to visit; an Asylum does sound scarier than a Freezer after all! I've updated the petition asking them to, if they won't remove it completely, revert to the original name.

      Twitter / ajc1973: @caffeinurse @Sectioned_ yes ...

      Can anyone confirm whether #AsylumNO was once called more acceptable "Freezer"? I'd like to update the petition accordingly if so!

    9. Reached 10 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • 6 months ago

      Mental illness should be taken seriously not used for commercial gain

      • 6 months ago

      it's the 21st century not the 19th for goodness sake. Common sense.

      • 6 months ago

      Profits before all else eh? Despicable.

      • 7 months ago

      Back in the 1960s I used to volunteer at the local "asylum", where I met many wonderful people. Little Violet, for example, a middle aged lady who was a cleptomaniac, who just wanted a bargain. She would spend her three pence at our tea stall on a cup of tea, then come back and have a chat and go off with a twopenny cup of milk and water, and then a penny cup of hot water! Then there was the genius, Simon who had just achieved the, at that time, unheard of fete of passing four "A" levels with A grades, but who would talk earnestly to the bushes in the beautiful gardens. In his saner moments, he was good company, and also a competent blacksmith. No one could remember why "The Marshal" had been in Hospital for most of his life, but when I knew him he was an intelligent and kindly old man who was trusted to help administer the medicines in his huge 80 bedded ward. He knew everyone, and fully justified his honorary staff membership. And then there was the famous author, for whom I, a non smoker, was asked to help smoke his cigarette. "This is Sir CM who wrote the book that became a Holywood Blockbuster". He had become ill in his old age, by which time most of his surviving family were living on the other side of the globe.

      My father used to tell a story about his time as a medical student during the war. He used to help local dentists by administering anaesthetics, and one day they were called out to an asylum where the staff thought that a very violent giant might need dental attention. My father and his colleague were escorted into a secure padded cell, by 8 burly guards, who struggled to subdue the patient. But once they had opened his mouth the smell told them what was wrong. They extracted all his teeth, after which he became a model citizen.

      There is no way of knowing who might become mentally ill, or when one of many common diseases might make us dependent on "asylum" and medical help. I am sure that many ex-mental patients may want to laugh about their previous behaviour. That is their privelege, not something that we should do before we find themselves in their position.

    • Michael Montgomery WEST KILBRIDE, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 7 months ago

      The company have a complete lack of sensitivity to this area of need so we must paint it out clearly for them!!


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