A few small incidents at Kennywood yesterday (7/12)

I took a trip to Kennywood on Saturday for my union picnic. While it was a very nice day to get to the park, there were a few minor incidents that had my wife and I concerned.

All day the Pitt Fall and Wipeout were closed. Which was not a big deal at all to us. Phantoms Revenge had stopped on the lift hill a few times causing it to close twice. However, my main concerns were at the end of the night near closing. We were in line for Swing Shot, it was cloudy but a very nice night. Out of nowhere they announced that the ride would be closing due to weather. We seen no lightning nor felt any rain and were wondering why this was. So, we got out of line and walked toward the Phantom and seen it was closed due to weather also.

We decided to ride the Pirate Ship since it was still open. Just then they re-opened the Phantom. We seen flashes in the sky and rumble from fireworks. We were wondering if they could honestly thought that it was an incoming storm?

While we were in the station waiting our turn a train got dispatched from the booth while the attendants had their thumbs down. After yelling from the attendants the train was stopped before totally leaving. We were about 4 rides back so we couldn't tell what was happening but the one attendant freaked out and took off almost hyperventilating about the incident. (I seen her sitting at the front of the ride entrance later.) The train was dispatched 2 more times like this while the attendants weren't ready. We were kind of worried to get on the ride if this was happening. It almost seemed as if someone was sleeping at the controls.

Then after the Phantom incidents we had to leave due to needing to get home. We went to get our cooler from a pavilion behind the Turnpike cars. As we were carrying out the cooler we noticed there were people on the Turnpike but it was stopped. As we got closer we heard some screaming and then seen the ride ops running. They ran to the part of the turnpike where we couldn't see what was happening (by the tunnel to leave). As we got closer there was one car moving while the others were still stopped causing it to slam into the car in front of it. The first car had no children in it but the second car had a father and son in it. Everyone seemed to be alright. We left there after and were glad we did after the last few incidents.

I know some things like this do happen but, it had made us wonder about some of the rides, staff, and supervisors. Kennywood is my home park and i love it. This year though, bad weather calls, dispatching rides when not ready, then an accident on another made us wonder what is going on with Kennywood? I hope this was just a one time deal and not something that continues.


I don't doubt that the train may have been sent early, given the reaction of the attendants, but you might've misinterpreted other occasions where this seemed to happen. There's a button on the back of the platform that needs to be pressed by a bar checker before the person in the booth can send the train, so several people would've had to have been way off their game on Saturday for so many mishaps to happen.

Well, the weather thing may have just been policy. Hershey closed down all the rides one day when there was a lightning strike approximately 30 miles away. 30!! Everything opened up about half an hour later, and it was no big deal, but maybe park procedure is to shut down if there is lightning within a certain proximity to the park.

Also, in regards to the Phantom thing....well, I don't know. Maybe the attendants noticed contraband on the trains after dispatching and then stopped the ride. Hrrmmm....Sounds like lots of people WERE off their A-game that day. Still, that many mistakes in one day? I would be quite nervous too! Maybe a dispatch button was sticking or something.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

I was there yesterday (Sunday). Pittfall and Wipeout were still closed. PR was running fine, though with one train operation all day despite waits of 20 - 25 minutes in the station.

I won't turn this into a full-fledged TR, but Ghostwood Estates is simply fantastic. If they had to tear down Gold Rusher to upgrade, they made a hell of a choice. The effects are practically Disney quality, and definitely a step up from the previous generation of Sally shoot 'em ups, IMO. I can't wait to ride it again to see everything I missed. And the trackless technology is just eerie. Perfect for a haunted house dark ride.

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

Well we were at the park on June 22 and the day before the weather was not so great. Lots of lightning storms. Then Sunday was a great day till around 8 pm at the park. The storms were approaching again. We started our last round of rides around the park around 9 pm and storms were in the distant. My son rode Aero around 9:20 and the storms were close. We ran to JackRabbit to get a final ride. It was stormng all around us and the ride op yelled that they were in code white when we left the station. The ride was during very heavy lightning all around. When we returned we found out we were the last train and the ride shut down. We made it to our car before the storm really let loose. They were shutting down rides, but not immediately during the storm.
The park is going to err on the side of caution when safety is concerned, especially when it involves lightning. There were some terrible thunderstorms to the north and west of Pittsburgh on Saturday evening, so it doesn't surprise me that they closed rides down due to weather Saturday night, even if it never reached Kennywood. It doesn't have to rain to produce lightning.
Josh M's avatar
I watched an archived radar loop from Saturday, and it does appear that a decent line of storms was moving towards the park in the 9 PM time frame... There was actually a wind damage report around 9PM in Beaver Falls which is 40 miles from the park. They were moving quite rapidly which could be why the park started closing rides.

Fortunately the line started breaking up shortly thereafter and seemed to barely clip the park, which would explain the rides re-opening.

Sorry... the weather nerd in me came out and had to investigate ;)

Josh M.

Mamoosh's avatar
Given what happened at the park over Memorial weekend a few years back when a microburst caused the Whip pavillion to collapse can you blame the park for being cautious when weather is concerned?
^I was thinking the same exact thing.

My author website: mgrantroberts.com

obxKevin's avatar
I'd err on the side of caution if it were peoples safety in my hands too. But last time I visited Kennywood, there were two things that made me go hmmm.

First, on Racer, someone chickened out and got off the ride after the bars had been checked. The attendants never re-checked the bars after releasing them, just cleared the train for dispatch.

Then on Raging Rapids, one attendant was busy talking to another attendant and did not assist our raft into aligning the steps with the moving deck. We had to climb over the seats to get out...really.

Other than those two things, we had a great day at the park. Lotsa love for Kennywood.

The poster formerly known as 'Zcorpius.' Joined 2004
Hmmm, for all this love for Kennywood it doesn't seem very professional. That is very dangerous to be distracted or doing something else while dispatching. Sounds like they need help in operations if three rides were down that day and ops didn't care about their jobs.
kpjb's avatar
The PittFall is down for a while. The Wipeout probably just for a couple days.

The Phantom thing I don't get because as someone else said, it's a multiple dispatch system. Two people need to push the buttons to release the train, so something else was going on. Maybe someone had something with them or undid their seat belt, in which case they'd stop the train before it dispatched fully.

As far as the weather goes, the park definitely did not think fireworks were lightning. The park has a radar station the same as the tv stations do for reporting the weather. You may not have seen it, but if there was a lightning strike within a given radius, then certain rides will shut down.

When the power is cut at the Turnpike, one or two cars drift down the last hill. Usually the ride attendants will try to push the first car as it enters the station, but if they're coming in too close, they need to get out of the way. If the people in the cars didn't care too much, it couldn't have been that hard of a bump.


obxKevin's avatar
In my 30-some years of Kennywood, those are the only two instances that I personally experienced and felt were not professionally handled. While that doesn't excuse those attendants' actions, I generally feel very safe at Kennywood.

The poster formerly known as 'Zcorpius.' Joined 2004
I generally feel very safe at Kennywood also. Things just seemed "off" to me around closing time. I can understand the weather. Phantom's dispatching may have been something minor but, just seeing the attendant leave like that had me wondering. Turnpike was just barely moving yes, but i never expected to see the cars make contact like that. Especially with children on board.

These things do happen i understand. It won't keep me from returning. However, what if one of these small mistakes turn into something not so small? That's what i worry about especially since i have children that i take to the park.

Jeff's avatar
Regardless of what you "seen," remember that the park has weather gear that can see beyond the hills. You don't have the complete picture standing on the ground.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

This is a classic case of where perception doesn't always equal reality but obviously can leave a negative impression on a guest.

The weather thing is just like Jeff said, radar is used to monitor extreme weather and taller rides are shut if electric activity shows up within a certain radius of the park. This could have been handled better by explaining that "radar has shown lightning strikes in the area and we need to close temporarily until it passes". If the weather isn't visible to guests they employees will usually get a ton of questions, so not sure why they wouldn't want to be proactive about that.

The panel operator freaking out shows how the behaviur of an empoyee can make a ride seem unself. As was stated before, there's a check system with the dispatch verification button so that panel can't send a train alone in regular operation. So not sure what she was so upset about, if a seat belt had been unbuckled the train could have been stopped on the lift. Regardless of the reason, her behaviour made you feel unsafe which would be dropping the ball on the service end of things again.

Jeff's avatar
I think you're totally wrong. You should feel safer if ride ops are proactively watching for safety violations. Furthermore, there's no need to explain specific weather decisions. They don't owe anyone an explanation, especially since people would likely abuse the information and use it to their advantage. Every idiot with weather radar on their phone is now an expert.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

It's just an opinion of course, but from experience as a ride op the explaination goes a long way. One of irritating aspects of the job is dealing with annoyed guests and repetitive questions. So a quick explaination or spiel can go a long way to reduce that. You don't owe it to them unless they specifically ask you, but it sure helps a whole lot.

The ride ops were doing their jobs and watching the train so the check system was working as it should. But the attendant that was hyperventilating and looked freaked out sends a negative impression to the guests. If you were about to get on a plane and saw that one flight attendants was really upset and freaked out it could make you uncomfortable. Coaster operations and flying are totally different but just an example of how an emotional, unprofessional employee could make a situation feel unsafe.

Going back to the first post, while it may seem like some ride operators don't care about safety, I can assure you that the supervisors and upper management make it their highest priority. Unfortunately, it's impossible to watch over every employee, so things do slip by, as evidenced by the posts in this thread. If you do see a safety violation, the most responsible thing you can do is report it. Talk to a guest services employee, ask to see a rides supervisor, or even write a letter--if you describe the problem and the approximate time that it happened (knowing an employee's name would be even better), I can guarantee you that the matter will be addressed.
Hey, for all we know, the girl witnessed something really unsafe (it was said that you couldn't see what was going on) and it scared her and she freaked. I mean, I've never been a ride attendant, but if I WAS one, I would be ultra super duper careful to make sure everyone was being smart and safe on these rides. I'd be stapling people into their seats left and right, tugging on restraints rather than tapping them like some ops do, and I certainly would be VERY upset if I saw something happening that could endanger my riders. Point is: We don't KNOW what was going on with that girl. Something could have scared the bejesus out of her. Or maybe she was just an overreacting wuss. Who knows?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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