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Worlds of Fun will have a stricter chaperone policy after a massive fight during opening weekend

The peak of a rollercoaster is silhouetted against a deep orange and blue sky with riders cresting the hill.
Charlie Riedel
In this July 3, 2017, file photo, people ride a roller coaster at dusk at the Worlds of Fun amusement park in Kansas City. The park announced Wednesday that guests younger than 16 years old will be required to have a 21-year-old chaperone to gain entrance to the park.

Just days into their 50th anniversary season, Worlds of Fun announced it will require any guest who is 15 years old and younger to be accompanied by an adult chaperone after 4 p.m. More than 150 unaccompanied teens were kicked out of the park because of a fight on opening day.

When Worlds of Fun reopens on Saturday, kids under the age of 16 will have to be accompanied by an adult chaperone in the evenings.

The rule change comes just a few days after the amusement park’s opening weekend, when a massive fight involving nearly 150 teenagers had to be broken up by security. Police say none of the teens were accompanied by adults.

Off-duty deputies from the Clay County Sheriff’s Department and Kansas City Police officers had to move the teens out into the parking lot, where more fights broke out before the crowds were dispersed.

One teen was arrested after she allegedly punched a deputy in the face. She was released into her parent’s custody, but could face charges in Clay County Juvenile Court.

On Wednesday, Worlds of Fun announced that, beginning April 15, guests under 16 years old must be accompanied by someone who is at least 21 when staying in the park after 4 p.m.

“For decades, Worlds of Fun has been a place where families and friends come together to enjoy our one-of-a-kind park,” the park said in a statement. “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.”

The amusement park is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season. The park is currently operating weekends from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 to 8 on Sunday. It will open every day starting on May 26.

The updated code of conduct requires that adult chaperones must present a government-issued photo ID when entering the park. They must remain in the park for the duration of their party’s visit, and be reachable by telephone.

“These changes were entirely up to Worlds of Fun,” said Clay County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Boyd.

Boyd said fights of Saturday’s magnitude are rare, although deputies and police routinely break up small skirmishes.

But in April 2019, deputies did get involved when nearly 300 teens began fighting in the park close to closing time.

“We always encourage adult supervision,” Boyd said. “That can avoid a lot of problems. The more that happens, the safer everybody will be.”

Boyd said they would be meeting with Worlds of Fun and Kansas City Police on Friday to further discuss any changes in security policies.

Boyd also said it will be up to Worlds of Fun’s own security personnel to carry out the new policies.

Only if a visitor refuses to leave the premises then will law enforcement officers get involved.

“We do criminal enforcement,” Boyd said. “If it becomes a trespassing situation, then we get in because that’s a criminal offense.”

Many entertainment venues in the metro already have chaperone policies for minors. In January, Winnwood Skate Center in the Northland implemented its own rule following a fight on New Year’s Eve.

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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