Fear VR: 5150 will be largely themed to a mysterious medical facility. Guests receive timed tickets, and upon their entry will be greeted by ominous nurses at the Meadowbrook Institute, guests become the latest patients inside the mysterious facility. Once checked-in, the new patients are warned of a dangerous, telekinetic female inmate known as “Katie,” who has just gone missing. Strapped to a specialized wheelchair, patients’ embark on a terrifying tour of the institute.
Regarding the experience itself, eight people at a time are loaded into 4D-effects seats disguised as wheelchairs. Once seated, they are provided with Samsung Gear VR headsets, headphones and a panic button. A safety message will be displayed while each guest’s hands are strapped down to the wheelchair, before beginning their four minutes of terror.
Parkgoers are strapped into chairs, given VR goggles and told to press the “panic button” if the experience becomes overwhelming.
“The journey into terror begins as you’re greeted by so-called medical professionals from some place called Meadowbrook Hospital,” he wrote. “Just go with the flow and sit right down in the wheelchair, and strap on the VR goggles and earphones, basically blocking out any sign of the outside world. A nurse adds arm straps, so you can’t remove the VR equipment on your own. Seconds later comes the horrifying realization that you’re absolutely at the mercy of the hospital staff.
“You are, however, given a ‘panic button’ to push in case the experience is too much. But that doesn’t exactly bring down the anxiety level, does it? For with a panic button comes the understanding that, well, you might need to use it.”
“There’s one moment where you feel yourself getting an injection, which is something I imagine has never happened before in a 4D experience”.
Fear VR: 5150 controversy
For Halloween Haunt in 2016, Knott’s Berry Farm introduced Fear VR: 5150, a virtual reality attraction that was met with controversy from the mental health community regarding the negative portrayal of mental illness. The ten-minute-long attraction immersed guests inside of a chaotic mental hospital haunted by a supernatural central character named Katie and zombie-like patients. The initial controversy came from the attraction’s name, with 5150 referring to the California law that allows a law enforcement officer or clinician to involuntarily commit a person suspected of having a mental illness and determined “a danger to themselves or others”. The backlash was focused on Cedar Fair’s use of painful experiences suffered by those dealing with mental illness and to have it “transmogrified into spooky entertainment”. In response, Cedar Fair removed “5150” from the name, and after continued opposition, permanently closed the attraction on September 28, 2016, only six days after its debut. A petition was signed by more than 2,000 people hoping Cedar Fair would bring it back, with the petition’s organizer stating that Cedar Fair shouldn’t be “forced to shut down an attraction based on the words of people who had not even experienced the attraction”.
Cedar Fair initially responded by dropping the “5150” subtitle — code for a possibly disturbed individual who could be a danger to himself or others — from the original “Fear VR: 5150” name, the Voice of OC said
The controversy was reminiscent of the brouhaha that erupted in the Bay Area in 2009 when Psycho Donuts opened in Campbell with straitjacket decor and an array of doughnuts whose names were deemed offensive by the mental health community. A truce was eventually reached, with Psycho toning down the decor and dropping the most egregious names.