The York Dungeon has banned the over 60s from its upcoming Halloween show amid fears the interactive experience is too terrifying for those with a weak heart.
The average adult heart beats between 60 and 90 times per minute, but the immersive attraction could get heart rates racing up to a thumping 200 as the fear factor sets in.
Taking advice from medical practitioners, show bosses have made the call to err on the side of caution and not allow entry to the show, Hide and Shriek, to older folk, who are more likely to have a higher risk of heart failure.
If those over the age of 60 want to attend, they will need to be able to prove they have a healthy heart with a doctor’s letter, or failing that, sign a liability waiver form.
To encourage those most at risk to get their hearts checked, The York Dungeon has introduced this new rule to make people think about being heart healthy.
Dr Jeff Foster said: “A mild adrenaline reaction is healthy, however, as we age we are more likely to develop other medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol. Therefore, if your resting blood pressure is higher, or your heart is weaker from previous damage, the adrenaline stimulation of a fright may be enough to stimulate a full-blown heart attack or stroke.”
To combat any ill effects, throughout the initial run of Hide and Shriek, the entrance to the attraction will be manned by team members who have been trained to spot those at higher risk of heart failure, with a focus on looking out for those over the age of 60.
The new show sees visitors enter Margaret Clitherow’s home, before being sent into a secret room with no clear exit and filled with special-effects to the up the fear factor. The Dungeon warns that those who suffer from claustrophobia and Nyctophobia (fear of the dark) are particularly at risk.
Dr Jeff Foster explains, “We want people to use their head, when it comes to their heart. What better way to encourage people to think about their heart health than at a time when their heart is, literally, about to jump.
“This initiative is great because, by the age of 60, many people may have established hardening of the arteries from having various health conditions*. As a result, these hardened arteries can rupture or block causing a stroke or heart attack if subjected to a suitably aggressive stimulus.”
Marc Bell, General Manager at The York Dungeon said: “We’re keen for everyone to visit The Dungeon this Halloween, however the health and well-being of our guests is always our priority. Given that this show is our scariest Halloween show to date, we are very aware that visitors heart rates will be affected! Although this is a welcome side-effect of our scares, we must take into consideration the effect this has on older guests.
"If any guests over 60 can reassure us of their heart health, then there is no reason they can’t enjoy the experience too.”