Knott’s Berry Farm visitors weigh in on new companion policy
BUENA PARK, Calif. — While her husband is working, Tiffany Parker of Yucaipa enjoys visiting Knott’s Berry Farm with her children.
It’s a place where she can watch her four children, ages 4 to 11, in a safe environment, have fun and have fun.
Parker had planned to visit Knott’s Berry Farm on Friday. But she had to abandon these plans.
Under Knott’s Berry Farm’s new escort policy, Parker would have had to find another adult to accompany him so they could take all four children.
“They’re going about it the wrong way,” Parker told Spectrum News by phone on Friday. “It’s not fair and it discriminates against single parents and families with more than three children.”
The new policy, implemented Friday at Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Soak City, states that teenage visitors aged 17 or younger must now be accompanied by an attendant aged 21 or older to enter theme parks. from Buena Park.
However, the attendant can only accommodate three visitors aged 17 or under, must stay with them “at all times” and be available by phone throughout the day.
It’s unclear how Knott’s will enforce the new policy, but officials said teenagers and children found inside the park unaccompanied will be kicked out.
Parker isn’t the only one frustrated with the new policy.
Christine Koehring of Long Beach has five children ages 4 months to 9 years old. Koehring said she often takes them to the theme park alone.
Now she can’t — on Fridays and Saturdays — and the policy, as it stands, “takes two days of prime time away from people.”
“I understand the need for some sort of policy, but it’s unfair and unrealistic for single parents with more than three children and people with large families to do this,” she said over the phone. “There must be exceptions for families or understanding. We are a family of seven and spent a lot of money on our passes.”
After a group of rowdy teenagers forced Knott’s to close early last Saturday, July 16, days later Knott’s Berry Farm officials presented a tough new policy to ensure the safety of visitors while indirectly affecting large families.
The policy is intended to reduce the number of teenagers who are often dropped off unaccompanied, meet friends and sometimes create problems at the theme park.
“It’s a serious and growing problem,” said Brad R., who declined to give his full name as he works at a local theme park.
Brad, who has worked in the theme park industry for the past decade, said a lot of fights happen over line cuts and “poor queue management”.
“Members of the same party will join others who are already in line ‘to save a spot’, thereby cutting off others,” he said. “When people wait so long in a queue and see things like that happen, it causes problems. Of course, that’s not the only reason for these fights, but I believe it’s a main reason.”
This exact situation happened earlier this week at Walt Disney World. According to reports, two families fought to the Magic Kingdom for someone who cuts the line.
Brad said Knott’s Berry Farm was not at fault in this situation. The new policy, he said, could be a way to avoid any potential lawsuits or liability from people caught in the crossfire.
“I’ve seen Knott try to do better lately, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I think this chaperonage policy will help, but only time will tell.”
He added that other theme parks are monitoring the outcome.
Sandra Espinosa of Ontario is a longtime season pass holder for Knott’s Berry Farm. Espinosa called the new policy “a step in the right direction.”
“I think they decided to do something about it now because there were so many fights going on at Knott’s at the same time, and the teenage problem got worse in the last few months,” Espinosa said. “[The fights] being so public probably also made them feel like they had to do something.”
Espinosa said Knott should hire more security. More security could prevent fights not only from teenagers but also from adults. She saw a lot of grown adults arguing and screaming.
Overall, though, she’s glad the theme park is doing something.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” she said. “I don’t mind paying a little more for a safer experience.”
Knott’s Berry Farm officials did not return a request for comment. A spokesperson told Spectrum News that they “will not be conducting any interviews at this time.”
Parker, Yucaipa’s mother, called the new policy a “band-aid” solution and could impact attendance for large school groups.
She contacted customer relations and received a response stating that Knott’s “is not currently creating a specific exception for large families.”
“Ratios of three minors to one adult may work for some, but what about larger families, schools, youth groups and day camps?” Parker said. “Many of them are struggling to find enough volunteers and enforcing a three-to-one ratio will also be a huge challenge for them, driving them away from Knotts’ visit.”
Parker said she understands why officials at Knott’s Berry Farm implemented the new policy. With everything going on in the country, security is a priority.
However, there should be some exceptions. The policy is too rigid.
How will she support her 11-year-old son who wants to ride a roller coaster while taking care of his other younger siblings who are too small to ride?
“Usually I let her come into the line by herself and wait at the exit,” Parker said. “Under this policy, I should be with her online at all times.”
“I’m not asking them to bend over backwards for me,” she said. “They must help create a safe family environment. But this policy is not working for families. It poses many challenges.”