When Knott’s Berry Farm debuted its “no-boo” necklace live to hundreds of fans of its annual Halloween event, the amulet proved ineffective for the presenters onstage.
Scores of die-hards jeered and booed the announcement at last week’s preview to the 50th-anniversary celebration of the horror-themed Knott’s Scary Farm in Buena Park.
“Wait, not nice,” event co-host LeeAnna Vamp said before placing around her neck a blue no-boo trinket, meant to shield guests from actors’ frights.
Vamp and her co-host, Knott’s show writer Jeff Tucker, removed the medallions after a minute of consistent booing from the crowd.
The no-boo necklace wasn’t an instant hit, but Knott’s is moving ahead with its plan to sell the merchandise for $14.99 at most park shops, offering attendees a chance to avoid a terror-filled evening.
“This is great for groups and families,” Vamp said. “This necklace is going to grant the wearer ‘scare immunity’ in our scare zone. So, if you have one of these on, it’s illuminated and most importantly visible to the monsters, [and] they will avoid scaring you directly.”
Inside the 10 mazes scattered throughout the park, frightful guests are on their own: The medallion will not be honored there.
“If you want to be scared, then you just don’t wear the necklace,” Vamp said. “The rules are easy.”
Knott’s began its Scary Farm in 1973 as a “three-day Halloween Haunt,” according to park officials. This year’s after-hours festival runs from Sept. 21 through Halloween and includes three new mazes, five scare zones and four shows.
Park employees wander around the venue in gruesome costumes terrorizing attendees, and each of the mazes and scare zones has a specific theme or genre, which include grotesque carnivals, ghost towns and deadly speak-easies.
Knott’s fan Samantha O’Brien was in attendance at last Thursday’s Scary Farm preview, but did not boo. The 35-year-old Huntington Beach resident found the necklace a welcome addition.
“I’m probably in the minority, but I do think this can be a good thing,” said O’Brien, who has attended the annual Halloween event since 2002.
She added that “the no-boo necklace will help give people a moment to catch their breath and enjoy watching others get scared on their way to the next maze/scare zone.”
O’Brien said she and her mother chaperoned her youngest brother and his friends, 14 to 15 years old at the time, in 2008 for their first Scary Farm visit. Though her brother and his buddies “enjoyed being scared,” they also sought relief and would have benefited from a no-boo necklace, she said.
“A few times I had them trying to hide under my arms or burying their face into me to not get so scared,” she said.
Though new to Knott’s, the no-boo necklace is a fixture at other properties belonging to the same owner, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.
A Pennsylvania mother sued another Cedar Fair property, Dorney Park in Allentown, for negligence in 2017. Her 15-year-old daughter allegedly suffered injuries, anxiety and depression after a park employee scared the youngster and she collapsed to the ground.
The girl had told park employees that she didn’t want to be frightened but was unaware the venue sold no-boo necklaces, according to the lawsuit.
Former La Palma resident Jason Frerking, 41, wondered about the effectiveness of a no-boo necklace after visiting Cedar Fair’s Worlds of Fun Amusement Park in Kansas City, Mo., last year.
He said the wearing of the necklace did not “put a damper on the scares” of those not wearing the amulet, a concern of some patrons.
Frerking, who began attending Knott’s Scary Farm as a middle schooler at nearby Heritage Christian, said it may be difficult for Knott’s staff to avoid scaring some patrons.
“A lot of the monsters like to come up from behind, so it will be difficult for them to see the necklace, even if it’s glow in the dark,” Frerking said.
Frerking said he still makes an annual pilgrimage to Knott’s Scary Farm even though he moved to Webb City, Mo., two years earlier.
“I always felt at home at Knott’s Scary Farm,” he said. “The rich kids had Disneyland, but Knott’s was my family’s best option.”
Though the no-boo necklace is optional, Knott’s is continuing its mandatory chaperone policy, first put in place last year after a string of troublesome fights among teenagers. All guests 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 21. Any patron younger than 16 without a chaperone “is subject to ejection,” according to park officials.
Single-day passes cost $109.99, though there are discounts at knotts.com.
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