Some Haunted Attractions are running in Fear!
Haunted Attractions Under Fire by Online Activists
So over the past few weeks I’ve been touring this year’s haunted attractions in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. There is a lot on the plate; rotten, disgusting offerings that turn your stomach, make you scream and sometimes cry.
Cry. It’s how I felt when I heard another Haunted Attraction was cut short because of complaints that the subject of the experience was “insensitive” to a certain group of people. Particularly the mentally ill. The attraction, a virtual reality haunt, was part of Knott’s Berry farms , Scary Farm 2016 line up. The premise was being trapped in a mental ward with a psychotic women chasing after you. Kelly Thomas who suffered from schizophrenia’s father called for the shut down along with other parents of mentally ill. The fact is that most people that suffer from mental illness are not violent. It’s also true that horror films and entertainment attractions are rarely if ever based on reality. So is it insensitive? Our poll indicates that over 90% of people in our poll do not believe that a horror story of a violent mentally ill person reflects on all people suffering from mental health issues.
The FEAR VR Attraction: It’s rumored that locally the Knott’s team did NOT want to remove the attraction but was forced to by parent company Cedar Fair. This type of politically correct pressure also forced Universal Studios, Halloween Horror Nights, to kill the long running Bill & Ted show after LGBT rights activists targeted the show as insensitive. Historically, Knott’s Scary farm has stood their ground on social pressures regarding insensitivity. Ironically, they dedicated their “Hanging” show, a pop culture, parody, spoof show (just as Bill and Ted show was) to mocking Universal for being “whimps”, “babies” and far worse names the year of Bill & Ted’s cancellation in Hollywood. Now it seems Cedar Fair has caved and is adjusting all Halloween Attractions at all their parks across the country. Scary Farm a fallen victim to online virtual activism and we must wonder are horror movies next? Mike Meyers, Jason just to name a few mentally Ill horror icons!
But behold! In a world of horror attractions going pure, not every Haunted Attraction is fearful of criticism. In Tustin, a city in Orange County California, there is a haunt known as “The 17th Door.” It is as far opposite of politically correct as you can possibly get. For hints of what to expect would be guests must sign a wavier and acknowledge it on video. This haunt is a haunt’s haunt. Pre-1990 haunted attractions had all kinds of tricks to get screams. Nobody complained and those offended were confined to as far as their own voice could be heard. “They shocked my ass and it tingled throughout the whole haunt!” No that’s not an old quote, that’s what I said after getting through the 17th Door this year! See the full waiver here
With subject matter of suicide, bullying, abortion, gun violence, eating disorder, substance abuse, implied child abuse and sexual abuse there are not too many evil things missing at the 17th Door used to invoke disgust and fear! For those willing to pay for such an experience the 17th door does standout from other haunts in it design and operation.
“Ultimately, haunted attraction patrons are paying for fear and sometimes that is hard to provide in volume “
One of the great technical attributes designed into the 17th Door is a chambered flow. What’s that? Well, one of the biggest problems in Haunted Attractions, done on a large scale, is too many people! It’s just hard to be scared when you are in a solid line of people going through a maze like attraction. You see or hear reactions in front of you and you’re comforted by the people behind you. The best and scariest experiences I’ve had is on private tours when I was put through the haunt all alone with big gaps between those in front and behind. You just feel venerable and that feels great! So chambered flow, your small group of three or 4 enter. The haunt is sectioned off into rooms however each room has an entrance and exit door. You only leave a room when the light over the exit door to each room changes from red to green. red stop, green go. This means that every time you enter a room, you don’t know what’s waiting for you on the other side! Once inside this Haunt employs well trained actors, mechanical devices, trap doors, things that creep and crawl with a sick and twisted story line worthy of a 2 hour film; sadly with aspects that are very real. Unlike straight walk through haunts, each of the 21 rooms in 17th Door are like a mini theatrical moments in the story line. Thus experiencing the 17th Door is like being part of a horror movie. You become part of the story and scary things happen to those that open the 17th Door.