Why Six Flags' 30-hour coffin contest could be dangerous


Every year, Six Flags hosts Fright Fest, which consists of Halloween-themed days at the park when people can celebrate the holiday. But the Six Flags in St. Louis has an unusual twist to Fright Fest this year: It’s inviting people to spend 30 hours in a coffin.

The 30-Hour Coffin Challenge was dreamed up to celebrate the park’s 30 Years of Screams, according to a Six Flags press release. Six people will be selected to spend 30 hours lying in a coffin, from 1 p.m. on Oct. 13 until 7 p.m. on Oct. 14.

The chosen ones will be allowed to bring a friend along with them during Fright Fest operating hours, but they’ll have to be by themselves, with a park employee watching over them, when the park is closed. People will have “designated bathroom breaks” (for six minutes every hour), but if they get out of the coffin for any other reason, they’ll be disqualified.

This isn’t just for “fun”: The winner stands to earn $300, two 2019 Gold Season Passes to the park, a Fright Fest Prize package that includes two VIP Haunted House passes, and a ticket for two to ride the Freak Train for Freaks Unleashed. Oh, and they get to keep the coffin.

If more than one person is still in his or her coffin after 30 hours, there will be a drawing for the $300. However, everyone will get the other prizes.

To celebrate Halloween, Six Flags in St. Louis is hosting a competition to see who can stay in a coffin for 30 hours straight, which might not be the best idea. (Photo: Getty Images)
To celebrate Halloween, Six Flags in St. Louis is hosting a competition to see who can stay in a coffin for 30 hours straight, which might not be the best idea. (Photo: Getty Images)

Contestants have to be at least 18, and they can bring their own pillows and blankets to make them more comfortable in the 2-by-7-foot coffins, Six Flags says on the registration form. Six Flags will also provide food and drinks (which will have to be consumed inside the coffin), and contestants will have a phone-charging station so they can take their phone along with them.

Scare factor aside, this sounds a little … unhealthy. To be fair, the park is making an effort to screen out people who shouldn’t participate based on underlying medical conditions by listing that as a requirement in the registration process. “But confined spaces are not really designed to be inhabited for an extended period of time,” Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I don’t think it’s the best idea from both a physical and mental health perspective, but it won’t likely have lasting effects on an otherwise healthy person.”

Wider says she’s most concerned about “acute mental health issues like severe stress and anxiety. Even if you do not have underlying claustrophobia, there is a chance that given the amount of time you will be in a closed, confined space, someone could suffer from anxiety and panic.” Six Flags also says it’ll provide “random visits by our Fright Fest Freaks,” which could make the experience even scarier.

Staying in one position for a long period of time isn’t really healthy, Wider says. If you have risk factors for blood clots, you’re at an increased risk of developing them during this time (which can lead to things like stroke). “We specifically worry about deep vein thrombosis,” Osita Onugha, MD, thoracic surgeon and assistant professor of thoracic surgery at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That happens when clots form in the leg, travel to the lungs, and cause an embolism in the lung. Whenever you’re stationary, you’re at risk for deep vein thrombosis.”

Eating and drinking lying down is also a concern, Onugha says. “If you’re eating laying down, you’re at risk of aspiration, which is when food goes into your windpipe instead of your esophagus,” he says. You can also have reflux, which is when stomach acid or bile irritates your esophagus, causing a burning feeling in your chest, Onugha says. “Normally, gravity helps your esophagus push food into your stomach,” he explains.

On a less severe note, it’s pretty likely you’ll end up with muscle cramps and stiffness from being in one position for a long time, Wider says.

If this sounds like your thing, though, you can register to take part in the contest before midnight on Oct. 3. (By the time of publishing, Six Flags had not returned Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.)

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