Major theme parks across America have officially banned all teens in response to their behavior. Hard to believe it’s come to this…
Theme parks nationwide are some of the most popular destinations for a fun-filled family day, whether that be at Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Orlando Resort, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Knott’s Berry Farm, Cedar Point, Six Flags, or any other.
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However, the debate around what age groups should be allowed to enjoy theme parks continues to be a divisive topic, with many attacking adults who enjoy theme parks — even derogatorily calling grown-up Disney fans “Disney adults” — arguing that they have nothing to do taking the chance, time, and space from children, and others suggesting that children and parents are the actual problems at amusement parks, acting entitled and promoting double standards.
Related: Kids vs. Disney Adults, Who Is the Problem at Disney Parks?
Unfortunately, recent incidents have jeopardized the family-friendly environment most theme parks try to promote, causing major amusement parks across the nation to take severe action against unruly Guests, apparently pinpointing the truly problematic age group at theme parks and officially barring teenagers from entering under strict conditions.
While the enhanced security measures may appear extreme, they are necessary in response to the growing number of violent and unacceptable incidents occurring at several theme parks across the country, including the House of Mouse, to ensure the health and safety of all Guests and theme park employees, as well as preventing tragic incidents from happening at the Parks. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s look at the current teen ban and what triggered it.
Cedar Fair chaperone policy
Perhaps the most affected theme park company by Guests and their unruly behavior has been Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, as multiple theme parks owned and operated by the company have been the stage of violent incidents, large brawls, and even gun threats, at times requiring the assistance of local law enforcement to control the crowds and handle the incidents.
In response to these unacceptable incidents, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company has introduced a chaperone policy at most of its theme parks across America — perhaps with slight variations between Cedar Fair-owned and operated theme parks — which generally states that all Guests 15 years old and younger must be accompanied by a chaperone who is at least 21 years old at all times to be admitted to or remain in the Park after 4:00 p.m. local time to close.
While the current chaperone policy has loosened up since it was first introduced at Knott’s Berry Farm in early 2022, which barred all Guests 17 years old and younger from entering the Park without a 21 years or older chaperone, it still states that teenagers may not enter or remain inside the theme parks unaccompanied by a legal adult who must accompany the teens during entry and the duration of their visit and be available by phone throughout their stay.
But what happened that was bad enough to make Cedar Fair Entertainment Company introduce these strict measures?
Knott’s Berry Farm
Unfortunately, Knott’s Berry Farm — California’s best theme park and amusement park per Cedar Fair — was the stage for the first theme park brawl of 2022.
On Saturday, July 16, 2022, the South California theme park announced its decision to close the Park three hours early due to unruly behavior and altercations involving several 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,” added the Park in its statement.
Following the incident, a viral video showed large crowds of Guests running in terror after reports of gunfire and an alleged gun threat at the Park, which were later dismissed by local authorities who confirmed that no gunfire had happened during the incident.
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Of course, the brawl caused, with all the reason, concern among Guests who quickly tried to cancel or refund their annual passes, arguing they didn’t feel safe visiting the Park and accusing it of “putting profit over customer experience.”
In response to concerns and scrutiny, Knott’s officials quickly announced the introduction of new and strict safety policies, the first of many chaperone policies to be implemented by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which stated that all Guests 17 years old or younger had to be accompanied by a chaperone who was at least 21 years old to be admitted to the Park, going into effect on Friday, July 22, 2022.
Knott’s chaperone policy extended through Knott’s Scary Farm, the California theme park’s Halloween event. And while Guests continued to behave disruptively, even assaulting a theme park employee, Knott’s Berry Farm modified its chaperone policy throughout 2022, responding to Guest behavior trends, and ultimately revoked the strict measure on February 2023. However, the Southern California theme park reintroduced its chaperone policy on April 22, 2023, following a companywide decision made by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company out of an abundance of caution.
Guests at Carowinds, a 400-acre amusement park located on the North Carolina-South Carolina state line, continued this unacceptable behavioral trend in September, as SCarowinds, Carowinds’ Halloween event, was just kicking off.
Brawls and potential gunfire threats caused Carowinds officials to cancel the SCarowinds event on September 17, 2022 and shut down the theme park an hour ahead of schedule. While local authorities denied the presence of gunfire, multiple Guests reported hearing gunshots while the altercations were taking place. The brawl left multiple Guests unconscious and hospitalized.
Carowinds swiftly introduced a chaperone policy that took effect on September 20, 2022. A bag policy was also introduced for the duration of the event, extending to Knott’s Berry Farm and causing outrage among Guests visiting the two amusement parks. And later, in 2022, Carowinds received one of 13 grants “totaling $560,000” from Cedar Fair Entertainment Company to enhance the park’s safety program with innovative ideas and technologies.
While Carowinds’ chaperone policy was enforced for less time than the one at Knott’s Berry Farm, the North Carolina amusement park reintroduced this policy on April 22, 2023.
Additionally, Carowinds recently set an example with an unprecedented incident involving a 13-year-old climbing into a claw machine; and following the companywide policy involving unaccompanied teens being banned from Cedar Fair theme parks banned him from the theme park for a year under charges of attempted theft.
Worlds of Fun
Worlds of Fun was the next amusement park to fall victim to unruly Guest behavior, with reportedly over 150 teens involved in a large brawl at the Kansas City Park. According to local reports, multiple brawls broke out as early as 7:30 p.m. and continued as theme park security and local law enforcement tried to control the situation.
“This behavior was not the experience we want any Guest to have while visiting Worlds of Fun,” said Worlds of Fun officials, adding, “We have zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and believe those responsible should be held accountable. The safety of our Guests and associates is always our top priority.”
World of Fun implemented a chaperone policy, barring Guests 15 years old and younger from entering the Park unaccompanied, beginning on Saturday, April 15, 2023.
Kings Island in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the most recent stage for unruly behavior and the incident that triggered the nationwide decision to have teens banned from Cedar Fair theme parks.
Kings Island officially announced on all social media channels that it would enforce a chaperone policy, effective April 22, 2023. The changes to the Midwestern theme park’s operations are in response to the recent arrest of a 17-year-old under charges of receiving stolen property, having weapons under disability, obstruction, and trespassing.
Kings Island’s chaperone policy — which is leading the nationwide teenage ban — states that Guests under the age of 15 “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 4:00 p.m. local time to close.” Chaperones must have a valid government ID and must remain with their party the entire time. Any Guest under 15 found alone inside the Park is subject to ejection.
While no incidents were reported at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia, the amusement park quickly followed Kings Island’s steps, as, earlier today, the Doswell amusement park introduced a chaperone policy with similar guidelines going into effect on April 22, 2023.
What other Cedar Fair Entertainment Company theme parks have introduced chaperone policies?
Out of an abundance of caution, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company has banned teens from most of its theme parks. As stated above, Knott’s Berry Farm in California, Carowinds in North Carolina, Worlds of Fun in Missouri, Kings Island in Ohio, and Kings Dominion in Virginia were the first theme parks to enforce severe security measures.
More Cedar Fair-owned and operated theme parks quickly followed, including California’s Great America in Santa Clara, California. Most recently, Dorney Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Valley Fair in Shakopee, Minnesota, posted chaperone policies on their official websites, going into effect on May 7 and May 13, respectively.
Are any Cedar Fair theme parks exempt from chaperone policies?
Of the eleven Cedar Fair-owned and operated theme parks, only three have not banned teens as of this article’s publishing. The Cedar Fair amusement parks exempt from the new chaperone policies are Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio — which recently surprised Guests by slashing their ticket prices — Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon County, Michigan, and Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada.
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Cedar Point is resuming theme park operations today, May 6, while Canada’s Wonderland reopened yesterday, May 5. Michigan’s Adventure is scheduled to resume operations on May 26. It is unclear if these three theme parks will modify their code of conduct, introducing the dreaded chaperone policy that has teens banned from most Cedar Fair theme parks. Inside the Magic will keep you updated with the latest developments and announcements from Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.
Unruly behavior at Disney Parks
Unfortunately, Disney Parks worldwide are no exception to this kind of behavior, as Inside the Magic has reported on many incidents involving Guests breaking Park rules and violent altercations causing permanent bans.
Have Disney Parks banned teens?
Disney has not banned unaccompanied teens from its theme parks in Anaheim, California, Orlando, Florida, or any of its international Parks. However, this doesn’t mean that teenagers — and Guests of all ages, for that matter — don’t behave disruptively while visiting Mickey Mouse and his friends.
Disney dress code
Perhaps the dress code is the most debated topic surrounding Guests visiting Disney World and Disneyland. During 2022, abusive Guests tried to take advantage of Disney Park policies, purposely dressing in inappropriate and revealing clothes to receive a free shirt when visiting the Park. The unacceptable behavior forced Disney Parks to modify this policy, turning Guests away from theme park entrances or forcing them to purchase a shirt to cover up instead of gifting it to them.
Related: The TikTok Dress-Coded Trend That Changed Walt Disney World
Unfortunately, Guests getting dress-coded do not stop at revealing attire. Inside the Magic has reported on multiple Guests wearing clothes with homophobic messages, supporting racist causes, promoting violence, branding inappropriate sexual messages, and more, making us wonder if this is appropriate for Disney’s family-friendly environment.
Recently, a pair of Guests caused a scene at Disneyland with their dresses. Although the dresses were not inappropriate, and the Guests tried to abide by Disneyland’s rules, the detail on their DisneyBounds caused a large crowd of Guests to form around them. It is essential to mention that Disneyland Resort does not allow Guests 14 years of age or older to wear costumes, as stated in the Park’s dress code, to ensure that they are not confused by an actual Disney character or Cast Member, risking an unpleasant interaction for all parties.
However, Guests 14 years of age and older can — and are sometimes encouraged to — DisneyBound at the Parks, which is wearing a casual (or sometimes formal) outfit inspired by their favorite Disney characters. This is what these two Guests were doing by wearing a pair of dresses imagined and created by the small company Chelsea Reece by Teresa Jack, which made them feel (and undoubtedly look) like a real Disney Princess.
Fights inside the Parks
Disney has also been the stage to a fair amount of fights, from a shocking brawl involving two large parties in Magic Kingdom to a recent fight at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Guests collapsing during altercations at Disneyland, loudly using explicit language, and fist fights breaking out. From the hilarious to the brutal, Disney is not safe from Guests’ irresponsibility.
Guests’ disruptive behavior
In addition to fights and inappropriate attires, Guests visiting Disney Parks sometimes have trouble abiding by the Park’s rules or using their common sense, apparently. For example, Inside the Magic recently reported on a group of “Disney adults” lounging in a fountain at EPCOT, causing their group to be immediately disqualified from a cheerleading competition.
Guests have also broken out of attractions at Disneyland Resort, endangering themselves and others, caused jaw-dropping wait times for participating in a dangerous TikTok trend, inappropriately exposed themselves on Disney Parks transportation, and forced the closure of attractions at Disneyland Paris with their unruly behavior.
Some Guests have even reported cases of child abuse at Disney Parks, with parents hysterically yelling at their kids, smacking them in the face with a leash, beating their children in “hidden locations” to ensure they are not being seen, and forcing sick children into the Parks because they “don’t want to lose money.”
Related: Guests Shocked at Further Displays of Child Abuse at Disney Parks
And let’s not forget those who can’t handle their drinks at the Parks. While “drinking around the world” is an EPCOT tradition and several locations throughout Disney World and Disneyland sell alcoholic beverages, Guests should always enjoy these offerings responsibly. Inside the Magic has reported on Guests being kicked out of Disneyland for allegedly purchasing alcohol without legal IDs and a Guest who caused a grotesque scene at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by exposing himself and urinating in public.
Related: Misogynistic, Drunk Guest Kicked Out of Disney World
NBCUniversal theme parks
As of this article’s publishing, unaccompanied teens are not banned from NBCUniversal theme parks, as officials have not modified their rules to restrict access. However, NBCUniversal theme parks are also no exception to unruly Guest behavior.
Guests behaving disruptively at Universal Parks
Inside the Magic has reported on different altercations at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, with large groups of Guests shamelessly cutting lines, pushing, shoving, and even assaulting others to get their way. Arrests and legal pursuits have also occurred at the Parks, with a mother being charged with grand theft after sneaking her family into Universal Orlando Resort. Guests have also inappropriately exposed themselves and assaulted theme park employees.
While, as of this article’s publishing, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company-owned and operated theme parks seem to be the only ones to have banned teens from entering unaccompanied, other theme park companies could follow their steps to ensure the health and safety of all Guests and employees, introducing additional regulations and security measures if disruptive behavior continues. Inside the Magic will keep you updated with the latest theme park and entertainment news.
Should more theme parks ban teenagers to ensure a safer environment? Or is there a better solution? Let Inside the Magic know what you think in the comments below!