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"Well executed concept, definitely a proportionate punishment!"

Rating: ★★★★

Reviewed by Lily C. on 15 June 2020

133 out of 145 people found this review helpful.

 

First review for this park! I'll try my best to do it justice. Like many, I have been following the Jemima case avidly, horrified at what happened to the little girl and feeling outraged at how cold-bloodedly she was tortured and killed. I admit I was initially a little dubious of the sentencing. While I have to give points for creativity, what's the point? Skillane won't suffer if her mind is wiped clean every evening, because she’ll start on a clean slate every day.

There was a lot of hype generated about it though, enough to make me curious. Since we live just an hour away, my friends and I got tickets to check out the park when White Bear opened for business.

And what's the verdict?

I think they definitely brought the judge's vision to life. For those of you who had been living under a rock, the concept of the park works this way. The premise is that after some vague electronic signal, a large proportion of the world is turned into 'onlookers', where they mindlessly film events on their smartphones, particularly the actions of 'psychopaths', people whom the electronic signal didn't affect and can now indulge in their violent impulses. A mind-wiped Skillane wakes up in that world and goes through an entire day of being chased around by psychos (actually the park employees) while being filmed by unhelpful onlookers (us, the park visitors), eventually leading up to the climax where everything is revealed to her.

The thinnest and cheesiest of sci-fi plots, really. So many inconsistencies and plot holes that it's amazing Skillane didn't figure it out. Maybe the mind wipe did more than erase her memory, hah. The ‘acting’ is amateurish. One of the psychopath's masks fell off entirely. They also accidentally left props out at the woods (thankfully, I don't think Skillane noticed it). Baxter was the only one who put in a credible performance, almost too credible actually – you can tell how much contempt he holds for Skillane.

But anyway, much to my surprise, I enjoyed myself! Playing the role of a mind-wiped robot who films endlessly is actually kind of fun, and my friends and I had a great time. Skillane's terror was cathartic to us too. Now she knows what poor Jemima felt, that helpless terror as horrible things were done to her while people just watched. And knowing she will have to go through the same terror, again and again, day after day? I now think the decision to mind-wipe her a stroke of masterful brilliance by the judge. Genius.

It's a newly opened park and it does show. There are some hitches here and there, problems with the acting and props as I said above. But other than that, it's a cool concept, and I like what they've done with the judge's verdict, given nothing of this kind had ever been attempted before. I believe that most of the hitches will be ironed out in a few weeks, and they’ll be giving consistently good shows then. I bought the annual pass so I’m definitely coming back to check it out again.

 


 

"This isn’t justice.”

Rating: ★★

Reviewed by Sam A. on 4 July 2020

3 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

 

First off, let me just say this right from the start: I do not condone what Victoria Skillane did, and believe that she is completely guilty and should be punished.

That said, yesterday’s trip to White Bear made me uncomfortable, on so many levels. From the very beginning, Skillane kept screaming for someone to just help her, and watching her confusion as we all refused to just made me feel so sick. I think what pushed it over the edge was watching Skillane break down on the stage, after learning that she aided a murderer and filmed the death of a little girl. Even though her grief was palpable, she was just taunted and vilified by everyone while she sobbed. I looked around the auditorium, and I saw every single one of us, me included, with our smartphones raised, recording her anguish, and I felt so complicit in causing her torment. She lost her memory! Surely she's not the same person.

Watching her the entire day, I felt like she resembled Jemima more than she resembled the criminal she was before. The park was meant to put Skillane into the shoes of Jemima, to make her suffer like that poor girl did, but it ended up putting us into Skillane's shoes instead, finding entertainment in the torture of another, and I don't think I enjoyed that.

This isn't justice. Not when a terrified woman sat in shackles before a jeering crowd, for a crime that she didn't remember committing, but yet is tortured psychologically every day for it, where sponges filled with red ink are hurled at her every night. This isn’t justice. It’s completely gratuitous violence masquerading as righteousness, and it won’t bring Jemima back, nor will it bring her family peace.

  


  

"Brought my family here, it's very kid friendly!"

Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewed by Michael M. on 16 September 2020

122 out of 129 people found this review helpful.

 

I had my reservations about how kid friendly this is so I came here on a solo trip first, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. You can see the review for my previous trip here. Suffice to say, I thought it was a great concept, perfectly executed, and had a fantastic time!

Anyway, I knew I wanted to bring my kids here someday - it's educational since it teaches them about justice and punishment, and it directly concerns them and drives home the point to never, ever, talk to strangers. I know they’ll also have a grand time running around and playing mindwiped onlookers – it’s the closest we’ll ever get to being in a movie set after all!

My kids had a great time! Obviously some places/scenes are out of bounds. They don't allow any children to watch the scene in the forest because of all the grim imagery, so we had a picnic nearby instead. We did some fun stuff though. We staked out a house with a good view of Skillane when she first came out and recorded a whole lot of video, which we already uploaded to their app here. The children also enjoyed the scene at the convenience store – their faces and smartphones were practically pressed up against the glass walls of the store, they were trying to get that close!

Speaking about the app: It's incredibly useful. They have maps of the whole place, and people pin their locations and give reviews and tips about the best places to be in at each stage of the performance. You can also use it to view all the live video feeds. Definitely download the app before you visit the park!

 


 

"Day ruined by crazy activist."

Rating: ★★★

Reviewed by Pete K. on 25 November 2020

35 out of 78 people found this review helpful.

 

I was so excited at going to this park at first. I’m sick of theme parks, amusement parks, etc., they’re all the same and don’t give me much of a thrill anymore. I thought White Bear was going to be different. Up close and personal with the notorious Skillane, and we get to pretend that we’re in some sort of sci-fi movie while filming her torment! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Our day was off to a promising start at first. Using the app, and some quick walking, we managed to get the house right next to Skillane, so we had a prime filming location for the start of the show. We then dashed out and managed to get to the road where Baxter chases Skillane, got some great footage from that scene!

However, during the scene at the woods, this crazy guy suddenly ran up to Baxter and Skillane, yelling about how it's all fake and he's going to rescue Skillane from her hell, grabbing her and trying to drag her away. Caused a big scene. Thankfully the park crew subdued him and Skillane with tasers. But of course, since Skillane is now unconscious, the show is over for the day.

The park operators did give us free tickets, but we are only in this area for a couple of days and the rest of our time here is packed, so it's basically a waste of our money. We asked for refunds but they claimed they were unable to, gave us the whole 'every day is unpredictable and there's no guarantee each day will proceed smoothly' spiel.

I do understand that such incidents are rare, especially now that they insist on pre-bookings and do background checks on every visitor, after a series of disruptions during the initial opening of the park, but it’s just disappointing that a day I had anticipated so much was ruined thanks to the actions of a madman. I hope they punish that guy severely and imprison him for a good long time. I heard they’re building another Justice Park and it’s opening sometime next year, maybe I can send this guy to be one of the exhibits there.

 


  

"Disappointing."

Rating: ★

Reviewed by Julia K. on 12 March 2021

27 out of 68 people found this review helpful.

 

Went to this park over the weekend with my girlfriend because we've heard great things about it. We went to Mural, the second Justice Park, earlier last month and really enjoyed ourselves, so we thought we could have some fun over here at the original park, try out a different scenario.

Well, suffice to say that we were majorly disappointed. There was a light drizzle the whole time (which I admit isn't the fault of the park operators) but I wished there were more indoor sequences so that we could take shelter from the rain and still catch the show. Also, I don’t know if it was an off day, but the acting from the park employees was dismal, with the exception of Baxter, who put in a stellar performance as usual. The rest, however, just seemed lethargic and bored. They didn't even bother running during the chase scenes! It was utterly unconvincing and I don't know how they manage to have Victoria Skillane fall for it every single time. I suspect Skillane herself is exhausted – she was completely confused and disoriented during the whole show and had to be prompted to run from the ‘psychopaths’ several times.

If I have to diagnose the park, I’ll say that its biggest problem now is boredom. Stale routines and lack of reinvention. They’ve been doing the same show, over and over again, for months now. This is completely unlike Mural, which rotates the criminal and show every month, making everything seem fresh. In White Bear, the employees are bored, even Skillane is bored despite the memory wipe, and it translates into boredom among the visitors. It is no wonder that their visitor numbers have been dropping!

Justice Parks are starting to pop up all over the world now, each with their own unique take on the whole 'justified punishment' thing, and increasingly, White Bear is being left obsolete in the dust.  As the pioneering park, I'll hate to see White Bear close down due to competition, but unless they buck up, it looks like it might be the case.

 


 

"Let us not forget who this park was created for."

Review: ★★

Reviewed Rebecca L. on 23 April 2021

0 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

 

It occurred to me as I read through some of the reviews over here that so few people mentioned what I thought was the most important place in this justice park, and even if they did they only spoke about it in passing. The place I'm talking about is of course the house that serves as Jemima's memorial. A place that deserves prominence and respect. Unfortunately, it seems like the park operators don’t think the same way, and Jemima’s memorial will be removed and the house converted to a new exhibit next month. I’m writing a review today about the memorial house, lest we forget about Jemima and who this park was built for in the first place.

Jemima’s memorial house is tucked away in a small corner a few streets away from where Skillane's prison is. It is a wholly unremarkable house, exactly the same as all other houses on the street, but for the etching of a white bear on the front door. I  went there with my daughter during the 'woods' scene, since there was no way I was exposing my daughter to the graphic scenes of violence there. Moreover, my daughter is now the same age as Jemima was when she was kidnapped, and I guess I wanted my daughter to know her.

We walked in and the atmosphere inside was oppressive and sombre. Much like how we were supposed to behave outside - silent and brainwashed - but there was a particularly solemn feel to the mood inside the house, out of respect for Jemima perhaps. It was also quiet because so few people were inside – there were probably only about five others not including us, definitely less than ten.

In the living room, photos of a smiling Jemima lined one side of the walls, while the other was devoted to images of the woods where her body was found. Silent videos played in an endless loop on the other wall, of the investigation, the media reports, Jemima's parents, and more chillingly, even the video that Skillane took. Upstairs, rooms were dedicated to replicas of Jemima’s bedroom and home, as well as the broken-down shack her kidnappers took her.

A huge oak table stood in the centre of what might have been the dining room, brightly lit with lights. It was littered with teddy bears, cards, and dust, our tributes to the dead girl. A heavy book set in the middle for visitors to write their thoughts. I flipped through the pages and saw messages of grief and condolences, fears that what happened to Jemima could have happened to their children too. The last message was written several weeks ago. Together with my daughter, we penned an ode to Jemima. It will likely be the last thing ever written on the book.

Much later in the evening, we stood together with a bloodthirsty crowd as people screamed and hurled insults and abuse at Skillane as she was transported from the stage back to the house that doubled as her prison. Not a single word was said of Jemima.

Let us not forget the reason why this park exists. This is more than entertainment, more than violence. It is because of justice, because of the murder of a little girl. Please let us not forget that, because otherwise, how much better would we be if we too, indulged in the pointless suffering of another?

 


 

"Finally a truly immersive experience!!!!"

Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewed by Jonathan O. on 2 July 2021

56 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

 

Phenomenal. Astounding. Mind-Blowing. I know almost everyone had doubts when the park closed for renovations two months ago in order to prepare for their brand new scenario. The media sure had their fun tearing into it, calling it 'stopgap' measures to delay the inevitable, but me, I never doubted Baxter and the park and I knew they will definitely deliver on their promise to reinvent the park. And let me tell you, the doubters were dead wrong.

I got the special tickets from the lucky draw online (otherwise, it’ll cost slightly more than twice the usual ticket – although I think it’s definitely worth it), and arrived bright and early on the day of the park’s reopening. We (and there were about 10 of us) were taken into a separate room from the rest of the visitors and Baxter himself briefed us on our role in the new show and tips on how to put on a credible performance. We were then taken to another room to be outfitted, where there was a large variety to choose from. We could even bring in our own tools if we wished to. I love that we could personalise our roles this way – makes it feel more real, you know?

Anyway, after we were all outfitted satisfactory, we took our positions at the newly renovated house (it used to be some sort of memorial for that Jemima kid, now it’s Skillane’s torture chamber, talk about irony hah!), we hung around and waited for Skillane to wake up in the house in the next street and make her slow progress out. Oh boy we were all so excited, the anticipation in the air was just amazing. I’ve been here (as in the old iteration of this park) so many times, but this is the first time I’m personally participating in it, and we’re the pioneer group of performers too! There were others who, like me, have been long-time fans of White Bear, and some who were total newbies, but we were all incredibly honoured to be a part of this.

Soon enough, the call came for us to move to our positions, put on our masks and start the action and boy, that’s when all the fun began! Skillane came stumbling into the house, expertly herded by the park employees, and I was lucky to be the first one to jump out of the shadows and slash my chainsaw at her. Boy, that scream she made, I’m going to be savouring it for a long time. I chased her, cackling and slashing my chainsaw the whole time, up the stairs to where the next person, Charlotte, laid in wait with her knife and Skillane screamed so loudly that the walls echoed with the noise. We all chased her around the house, triggering traps and hidden performers, and she was just hysterically crying the whole time. She actually passed out, but that was no big deal. Just tied her up and sent her on to the next scene with the second group of performers.

I'm watching the complimentary videos they sent me from the recordings, and they’re truly fantastic. This is seriously an experience I’ll treasure for a long, long time. All along, in the old White Bear and all the other Justice Parks, we were always the onlookers, you know. Participating but not entirely part of the production. There’s always this… distance, and it keeps us from enjoying the performance to the fullest. Now, with the new scenario, White Bear has managed to do what other parks haven’t yet done – make the visitors full players in the production, and truly immerse ourselves in it, and it’s just utterly fantastic!

People had started to write off White Bear Justice Park, but mark my words, the original Justice Park has proved that it is still relevant, and will remain relevant, for a long time.