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My feelings toward implementing a theme park chaperone policy – DePaoli on DeParks

by Jeff DePaoli

In a world where it’s hard to feel entirely safe in most places, there’s something especially concerning when a location that’s sole purpose is to bring joy begins to feel unsafe as well. The 100+ year old theme park Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California has been a location creating joyful memories for so many years. Unfortunately, due to a recent incident involving a large number of teenagers in the park, some guest’s memories who were visiting that day will be full of fear instead of the expected joy. The team at Knott’s took swift action by closing the park early and putting a chaperone policy into place to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again. But will a chaperone policy really fix the problem, and how long can it be held in place?

theme park chaperone policy

I would like to make it clear that I fully support Knott’s decisions and believe they made the right move. The chaperone policy requires that all guests aged 17 and younger must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old. One chaperone may accompany no more than four guests. This policy is currently in place for Fridays through Sundays, but is it sustainable?

The reality is that teenagers like to hang out in large groups. When I was growing up, it was in the mall. These days, local and affordable theme parks seem to be a location of choice. Although what happened at Knott’s seems to be something bigger than a group of random teenagers causing problems, it’s also not uncommon for there to be rowdiness at any location where large groups of teenagers hang out.

The big question is, how much of Knott’s income comes from teenagers who enjoy spending time away from their families? It’s no secret that teenagers enjoy their independence. For some, requiring an adult chaperone may make the location immediately unappealing, which ultimately means a loss in revenue. But my guess is that Knott’s makes more money off of families than they do teenagers. If that is true, hopefully this chaperone policy can be kept in place while not affecting the bottom line.

Having said that, I do feel bad for the majority of teenagers who know how to have a good time alone with friends while remaining responsible and respectful. I certainly enjoyed my teenage years without a chaperone, and it’s too bad that a small percentage of troublemakers caused problems for all.

knott's scary farm

The big question I have is whether or not the chaperone policy will be kept in place for the annual Halloween event, Knott’s Scary Farm. I personally hope that it is strictly enforced then, but I assume that groups of teenagers make up for a large portion of Knott’s Scary Farm revenue. Over and over again we hear the phrase “safety first” in the world of theme parks. I hope that phrase is kept in mind when it comes to the Halloween event, and that the chaperone policy is fully in place for every night of the event, even if it means lesser revenue.

This isn’t a situation that’s unique to Knott’s. Keeping theme parks as a safe space is an important part of the business. We are all going to these places to escape our everyday fears, concerns, and stresses. The last thing we need is that dose of reality in what is supposed to be a fun-filled atmosphere.

What do you think? Do you find the chaperone policy to be a good addition to park rules, or do you feel it’s too much? If you’re a teenager, does the chaperone rule make you less interested in visiting a park with a similar policy in place? Leave a comment and let me know.


If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.

Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit,” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.

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7 comments

Sam August 10, 2022 - 10:05 am

The question I have is how they plan to enforce this. As a teenager myself, I know how easy it would be to get an adult friend or two to accompany a group of my friends into the park. Then they could just ditch us and we’d go off on our own. I’d never do that, but if I’ve thought of it, you’d better believe others have, too. I hope they don’t keep the rule in place permanently, because as you so correctly pointed out, some of us just want to have fun, and it just stinks when a small minority of people ruin it for everyone. Thanks for the great article!

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Jeff DePaoli August 10, 2022 - 7:18 pm

Thanks for reading, Sam. In theory, you’re right. That could definitely happen. They do mention in the rules that that’s not allowed. Although you could potentially get away with it, they could also use it as an excuse to ban guests.

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Steve August 12, 2022 - 5:23 pm

Rowdy guest are usually easy to spot before entering the park. I think over the years knotts became to comfortable or passive with this and people know it and are testing it. The chaperone policy is good for now but these groups will test it soon. Knott’s needs to step up security to change with the times, be a little more know in presence and be able to re act in a timely manner. If this means some bad eggs get thrown out of the park early so be it. I think majority of teen are good hearted and should be able to enjoy summer like the last generation. Security at Knott’s is good. Right now they need to step up and change tactics. Thanks for listening.

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April August 13, 2022 - 3:20 pm

I agree that most high school aged teenagers are not the issue, and they are taking the rap for the bad eggs. However what I would like to see enforced is for scary farm and making it a 13 and up event. I do not feel kids under 13 need to be at this event, as where most of them clearly do not want to be there. Overall I think Knotts does a great job and I enjoy taking vacations to go there with my family.

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Cj Brown August 17, 2022 - 12:43 pm

Back in the day? the Parents could drop off a group of kids (say 8 years and up) at either Disneyland, or Knott’s Berry Farm, (we behaved! we used a public pay phone to call to be picked up and waited in a safe space!) – that went out the window in 2017 at Disneyland / DCA with their chaperone policy put into place, Universal and Six Flags Magic Mountain have their policies, it was only a matter of time before Knott’s Berry Farm had to change their policies to reflect the fact that some kids today don’t act like kids / some Teens today act like thugs!

Gang Members come in all ages, so let’s see how this chaperone rule is used by Responsible Households vs Gang Members (I hate to say it, but Security at the Front Gate has got to screen people with metal detectors + empty out purses + backpacks go in lockers outside Theme Park + if it looks like a Gang Member and acts like a Gang Member it doesn’t get inside Knott’s! Have Security inside Knott’s ready to handle any situation!)

We need real Security Staff at Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland (hello? remember that Family fighting with each other in Toontown?) We also need a Buena Park Police Substation at Knott’s Berry Farm (pick which side of Beach Boulevard you want to be on!)

I remember when Knott’s Scary Farm used to be 18+ and I preferred it that way (you didn’t have a bunch of Karen’s complaining about The Hanging, or this Maze is too scary for my child, this Live Show is offending me, etc – hello? that’s what Camp Spookie Snoopy is for! get a babysitter if you want into Scary Farm because it shouldn’t be 13+ – it needs to be 18+!)

Sure, Teens need a place to loiter, but Teens back in the day used to have jobs as they completed their education (hello? where are the darn parents of these out of control Teens? Why not hold them accountable?)

We all should be able to have fun and be safe (fyi it’s not just these out of control teenagers, you had antagonistic adults during the pandemic that refused to follow the posted protocols regarding mask wearing and social distancing! why should Cast Members deal with either? Security needs to be trained to diffuse the situation and escort them out of a Theme Park and detain for Police – geeze I’m old remember that Disneyland Jail was real! you got photographed / fingerprinted and were either put on probation ? or told you don’t ever come back! Knott’s needs to do the same thing!)

I love Knott’s Berry Farm! I love the improvements! I just don’t want any more bad apples to ruin it for everyone AND bring back the 18+ Scary Farm, please (the Mrs n’ I have been going since 1980!)

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Jeff DePaoli August 18, 2022 - 10:26 am

Hi Steve. I agree that there needs to be a future solution allowing the cooperative young guests to come and play without chaperones while the problems are removed. Thanks for reading.

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Jeff DePaoli August 18, 2022 - 10:28 am

April, in case you didn’t see, it was recently announced that the chaperone rules will be kept in place for every night of Knott’s Scary Farm! Thanks for reading.

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