Cedar Point responds to mental health advocates: No changes to haunted houses

From the Sandusky Register


Call ’em crazy, but Cedar Point won’t alter or remove any of its attractions, despite a request from mental health advocates to do so.

A Cedar Point spokesman said “changes are not required.”

On Thursday, the National Alliance on Mental Illness asked the amusement park to immediately remove two offerings focusing on fictional mental health patients: Dr. D. Mented’s Asylum for the Criminally Insane, and The Edge of Madness: Still Crazy.

One is a haunted house, the other is a separate show.The attractions promote the false stereotype that the public should fear mental health patients, the alliance said.

But Cedar Point officials feel the attractions do no such thing, park spokesman Robin Innes said.

“The attractions at HalloWeekends are not the real world and our guests know that,” Innes said. “Our attractions are not designed to depict reality.”

The alliance’s Ohio chapter described Cedar Point’s inaction as potentially harmful and called Cedar Point a “callous organization.”

But it will not continue to ask the park to make changes, said Terry Russell, the alliance’s execute director.

“NAMI Ohio is sad that Cedar Point has rejected our plea,” Russell said. “(But) we will not take any further action in regards to Cedar Point. Our energies must be expended in advocating for treatment services that are currently not available.”

One of the alliance’s goals is to improve public awareness and increase education about mental health problems.

Friday marked the end to Mental Health Awareness Week, which prompted the alliance to ask Cedar Point for the change.

In a letter to Cedar Point officials, the alliance said attractions like Cedar Point’s reinforce stigmas about mental health patients.

Like other diseases, however, mental health patients who receive treatment can function with few symptoms, the alliance said.

“Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders, they are diseases,” the letter said. “Would Cedar Point ever even consider developing a display or attraction that used cancer patients as a means of instilling fear in their guests? We think not. And why is this? Because cancer is a serious disease.

“We would never want to paint individuals with this terrible disease in an unfavorable light. Why then do you feel that it is acceptable to paint individuals suffering from biological brain disorders in an unfavorable light?”

Innes said despite their disagreement, Cedar Point appreciates “the valuable services” the alliance provides for local families.

Russell said the alliance doesn’t oppose haunted houses or Halloween festivals, but wished Cedar Point wouldn’t make light of such a serious disease.

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