Knott’s Berry Farm Reinstating Chaperone Policy For Teens – Update

2ND UPDATE: Knott’s Berry Farm will reinstate a chaperone policy this weekend, requiring visitors aged 15 and younger to be accompanied by an adult. 

The imposed a chaperone policy last summer in response to a melee that erupted among teens at the park in July. That policy, which applied to people ages 17 and younger, later was amended then dropped altogether in February.

A post on the park’s website said the chaperone policy will be implemented again starting Saturday for both Knott’s Berry Farm and its Soak City Waterpark in Buena Park, just northwest of Disneyland.

“Under this policy, all guests ages 15 years old or younger must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old in order to be admitted to or remain in the park after 4 p.m. local time to close,” according to the park. 

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UPDATED, July 26: Knott’s Berry Farm officials today announced the expansion of their policy regarding chaperones for youths in light of a recent brawl among teenagers at the theme park. More on that below.

Previously, the theme park required all guests 17 and younger to be accompanied by a 21-or-older chaperone on Fridays and Saturdays, but now the theme park is requiring it on Sundays and may add other days of the week if necessary.

“The safety of our guests and associates has always been our top priority at Knott’s Berry Farm,” officials said in a statement. “We are committed to keeping Knott’s Berry Farm a place where families and friends come together to enjoy a one-of-a-kind park full of homegrown experiences and immersive entertainment.”

The new policy was “well received” by guests last weekend, said officials.

The chaperones must prove their age and accompany up to four guests 17 and younger per day.

PREVIOUSLY on July 20: Responding to a brawl among teenagers that forced the park to close early on Saturday night, Knott’s Berry Farm announced today a “chaperone policy” that will require all guests aged 17 or under to be accompanied by a 21-or-older chaperone throughout their visit to the park on Fridays and Saturdays.

Any teens found unaccompanied in the park on Fridays or Saturdays “will be subject to ejection” under the policy, which will take effect Friday.

The policy follows an outbreak of violence among unruly teens around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Police said they initially responded to the park on reports of shots possibly being fired, but investigators determined no gunfire had occurred.

The disturbance was attributed by the park to “unruly behavior and altercations involving a number of teenagers.”

Video circulated on social media showed a melee of brawling teens that sent many park visitors scrambling for safety. Two people were taken to hospitals for treatment.

The disturbance prompted the park to close three hours early.

Knott’s announced the chaperone policy on its website, stating, “For decades, Knott’s Berry Farm has been a place where families and friends come together to enjoy our one-of-a-kind park. Millions of guests have counted on us for their daily dose of wholesome family fun, and we’re committed to keeping that promise going forward.”

Local Gen X-ers might remember a simpler time in the early ’90s when teens flocked to the park’s Studio K to dance and romance without mom or dad present. Saturday’s tumult and the resulting policy makes that memory seem even more distant.

Under the policy, one chaperone can accompany as many as three teens, but the chaperone must “remain with their party at all times during their visit to the park and be available by phone throughout their stay.”

Interestingly, the new rules also curtail “Line Breaking – [which] includes leaving and re-entering a line for any reason or place holding in line.”

The announcement also details a dress code:

Attire and accessories must meet Code of Conduct dress requirements and may not be offensive or violent and may not disrupt the general safety of guests or associates. Guests wearing character-themed outfits may not sign autographs for other guests or represent themselves as a park associate. Costumes that conceal identity are prohibited. Rides and attractions may also have additional restrictions on dress attire. Themed outfits/attire may be prohibited during evening Halloween events.

The policy will be in effect “until further notice” and also applies to Knott’s Soak City Waterpark across the street.

PREVIOUSLY on Sunday: Fights and multiple reports of shots fired caused the Knott’s Berry Farm to shut down early on Saturday night, police said.

Buena Park police said numerous 911 callers also reported shots fired, but investigators determined there was no gunplay at the amusement park.

Orange County Fire Authority reported three people injured in the fights. Two people were transported to area hospitals, with the third declining medical treatment.

The park was supposed to be open until 11 p.m. Saturday for Knott’s Summer Nights. It is scheduled to reopen today.

“We’re currently working an incident at Knott’s Berry Farm involving multiple fights in the park,” the Buena Park Police said.  “A report of shots fired was reported with numerous 911 callers. Officers were on scene during the calls and determined there was no shooting.”

The authorities added in a public advisory, “Knott’s Berry Farm has closed for the night, and we ask you avoid the area until further notice.”

FOX 11 Los Angeles reported that shots fired reports came in around 8 PM. The welcome gate lights were off by 9 PM. Social media footage showed several fights at the park.

“The safety of Knott’s Berry Farm’s guests and associates is always our top priority,” the park said in a statement. “On Saturday evening, the decision was made to close the park 3 hours early due to unruly behavior and altercations involving a number of teenagers. This behavior did not align with our park’s values, and was not the experience we want any guest to have while visiting Knott’s Berry Farm.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

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