- Matt OuimetPresident Cedar Fair Entertainment
STOP EXPLOITING PEOPLE WITH SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS
Knotts Berry Farm and Cedar Fair Entertaiment have CLOSED THESE RIDES IN ALL 3 PARKS!!!
Thank you Cedar Fair Entertainment and Knotts Berry Farm! You have risen above systemic exploitation and discrimination and shown that your integrity and morals are above profits.
It is our hope that this attraction return after modifications are made!
(Original petition below)
A week ago, I was made aware of an "attraction" FearVR: 5150, debuting at Knotts Scary Farm, an amusement park in Orange County, California. I have since learned that this attraction has debuted in 2 other parks owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment.
Please see the LA Times press release article on this attraction: http://www.latimes.com/travel/themeparks/la-tr-halloween-haunt-virtual-reality-5150-20160905-snap-story.html
And the press release from OC Weekly:
The name of the ride gives heavy weight, right off the cuff, to stigma considering "Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) (in particular, the Lanterman–Petris–Short Act or "LPS") which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themself, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled."- (wikipedia)
The 4D experience has been repeated in scores of articles on the internet: "After checking into the mythical Meadowbrook Institute, visitors are strapped into a wheelchair in the psychiatric hospital’s exam room and fitted with a Samsung VR headset and headphones." - (LA Times) and "One patient seems agitated and attempts to get up from a bed. Security officers try to subdue him. A nurse gives you a shot (which you will feel), knocking you out. When you wake up in the next scene, all hell has broken loose." - (OC Weekly)
I am a 30+ year advocate for neurologically impaired children and adults. I have experienced the inside of Mental and Behavioral Health Facilities for decades. It is hardly "entertainment" to anyone who has witnessed children and adults living in florid psychosis, restrained and forcibly medicated. They are gravely disabled in this. And it is disgusting that stigma is so ingrained into society that entertainment would be gleened from mocking people with such devastating illness.
I also perform outreach with Severely Mentally Ill homeless people in Orange County, California. I began to focus on this population when 6 Fullerton Police Officers beat Kelly Thomas, a Schizophrenic man, to death on July 5, 2011. Hundreds of citizens in Orange County have worked for 5 years to deminish blatant stigma campaigns such as FearVR: 5150.
The people I work with are often unmedicated and have lost touch with reality. They are so disabled, they can not defend themselves against the onslaught of stigma compelled mocking, degradation and, often violent, muggings which increase after attractions such as this open to an ignorant public.
Considering 1 in 4 people are diagnosed with a mental illness, stigma surrounding neurological disorders and mental illness needs to come to an end!!! Myself and my fellow advocates are asking Knotts Berry Farm and Cedar Fair Entertainment for a formal public apology and to self engage with organizations, such as National Alliance on Mental Illness, to gain insight into what Mental Illness looks like. It is our hope that these entertainment giants end the releasing stigmatizing bombs upon the public and transition to sharing awareness and acceptance.
Although Knotts Scary Farm has changed the name of the ride (see OC Register article http://m.ocregister.com/articles/mental-729892-attraction-name.html ) it is simply relabeling and does not change the content of the ride. FearVR, minus the numbers, is still a stigma propaganda machine, inundating people in the "5150" experience.
It would be optimal if Knotts and Cedar Fair Entertainment close this ride, if possible. If not, perhaps they could donate the proceeds to a Mental Health organization rather than profit from mocking disabled people.
Please sign this petition to support the thousands of families who sacrifice and fight to gain treatment for their ailing loved ones.
- President Cedar Fair Entertainment
We would like to thank you for your continued efforts in ending exploitation and discrimination of the severely mentally ill. Our families appreciate your hearing our real life stories of the "5150 experience" and responding by closing your attractions to alleviate the pain that we and our loved ones have experienced for far too long.
You may have been made aware of another petition to reopen Fear VR. It is our hope that this will happen, after modifications can be made to exclude all content which exploits a vulnerable population which is made up of 4% of our country's citizens.
Changes this significant are rarely easy and we would like you to know that we appreciate the depth of sacrifice Knotts and Cedar Fair Entertainment have made.
Again and very sincerely, THANK YOU!
Mary L Courtney-Sheldon started this petition with a single signature, and now has 547 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.