Kennywood taking a beating on social media as ride closures affect experience

Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2018 10:44 AM | Contributed by BrettV

Kennywood officials say this late-summer stretch has been one of the trickiest in the park’s modern history, as the park has tried to manage the collision of huge crowds, mechanical problems, construction and staffing issues.

Read more from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018 10:30 AM

It shouldn't surprise me, but I'm amazed someone went to the effort to create a Facebook page/group for the sole purpose of bitching about the park. And it has 2000 members.

I keep reading more and more about companies struggling to find staff, particularly part time help. The company I work for relies on a lot of part time staff and it has pretty much been a revolving door for a couple of years. The economy is humming along, unemployment is low, and it isn't the first time we've struggled with staffing in the 20 years I've been here, but this stretch has easily been the worst. Part of the problem has been the effect of Amazon and I'm sure it has happened in other major cities. Amazon has opened several distribution centers around Dallas and lures a ton of part time employees with high hourly wages, overtime, free food, Xbox in the breakroom, benefits after a waiting period, etc. My company can compete with the hourly wages, but it's still a tough battle.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 2:37 PM

Jeff said:

Trackmaster said:
The point isn't that Orlando is cheap, the point is that Disney has endless space to build dorms for international students and interns. So the cost is basically $0 for Disney.

Can you get me some of that zero-cost building? I'd like a second home or place to open a business for free.

In addition to the fact that bricks cost money, there is also the opportunity cost of using land for housing low-cost employees vs. something that soaks the tourists for more cash.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 2:43 PM

GoBucks89 said:

My wife and I joked at one school that had we played a drinking game with "study abroad" as the trigger, we both would have been passed out by the second session of the day. I swear they were paying their staff by the number of times those opportunities were mentioned. May well be more myth than reality in terms of their importance

In my most recent role at UM Engineering, the international programs office was part of my portfolio. The value isn't necessarily in the first-job ROI (aka "please move out of my basement") but in long-term skills. Living in a place that is unfamiliar enough to be disorienting helps develop a bunch of things that will serve you well later. You learn flexibility. You learn that your culture is not universal. You also find some humility in most cases.

And I've put my money where my mouth is. I sent my daughter on a six week immersive language program in France after her first year. If all goes to plan, my son will do a similar one in Italy next summer after his. They are not cheap, but I believe they are worth it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 3:07 PM

Going back to the closing early for rain, I feel like I would see that pop up on my Facebook feed more this year than ever before. I would sometimes check Pittsburgh weather when I would see that and it would often say "closing at 6pm" and things looked to be clearing by 7pm.

I'm not saying every park needs to be Cedar Point, where a wash out until 10:45pm on an 11pm close means you will still get 15 minutes of rides from 10:45-11. But I feel like they closed early a lot for weather this year, just by casually noticing it on my feed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 4:45 PM

I don't think any of Disney's cast member housing is on land that was originally purchased for WDW. I think they have had to purchase land and build the condos each time they have expanded. Oh, and it isn't free. Back in 1992 I believe I paid something like $55 per week for my portion of the unit...times 6 of us. So, again in 1992, they were collecting $1,320 per month on my 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit. (Our units also had a full kitchen with appliances and a living room with television.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 5:08 PM

BrettV said:

Going back to the closing early for rain, I feel like I would see that pop up on my Facebook feed more this year than ever before. I would sometimes check Pittsburgh weather when I would see that and it would often say "closing at 6pm" and things looked to be clearing by 7pm.

I'm not saying every park needs to be Cedar Point, where a wash out until 10:45pm on an 11pm close means you will still get 15 minutes of rides from 10:45-11. But I feel like they closed early a lot for weather this year, just by casually noticing it on my feed.

That's where I was getting the same impression. I have several parks on facebook and Kennywood posted they were closing due to weather more than normal IMO.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 5:08 PM
TheMillenniumRider's avatar

ShaneDenmark said:

I had the same experience last year. Dorney was so much more fun than I ever expected it to be. We are going back next month.

Dorney is actually a great little park with a nice ride collection. I greatly enjoyed both of my trips, the waterpark does a great job at clearing out the ride side during the day and most waits are minimal. If only they would get a decent hyper instead of that Morgan dud sitting there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 5:43 PM

Kennywood closes any time it’s not packed and it rains for more than 20 minutes. It’s a corporate mandate and I’d like to believe that the local management knows that it’s bad for business but is out of their hands.

A couple years ago my co-workers planned a trip to the park after work. It was a perfectly nice day without a cloud in the sky all day. They arrived and the park was closed. It wasn’t busy enough so they just sent everyone packing before 5 pm.

They always give out rain checks when this occurs, but their new policy this year is to require guests to show their receipts or ticket stubs to receive them. This, of course, is not advertised anywhere at the entrance. Once you get into a park, how often is it first priority to save your receipt or stub? It’s another tone-deaf policy meant to save money without any concern towards all the guests they screw over in the process.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Wednesday, September 5, 2018 5:44 PM
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 10:21 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

I love Kennywood, but ...

... Vote with your feet. If you don't like how the park is run, go elsewhere. Send a polite, short email or letter to the park explainng why you won't be returning.

There are several coasters I enjoy at SF Great America, but I avoid the place unless someone is paying my way in, and at that, they get my standard three hour limit warning.

The place is poorly laid out, and usually has too many people to make it enjoyable.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, September 6, 2018 5:53 AM

As far as the closing for inclement weather, management is trying to avoid the potential for another macroburst incident that caused the death of some patrons. Palace is just hinkey about it, perhaps it's their liability underwriter calling the shots on that.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 11:41 AM


I highly doubt it. I think that they just see a Tuesday in June where they know everything will be a walk-on when its sunny and 75 degrees, and see it as a chance to save some operating expenses when they know that drizzle will make sure that some trains run with 4-5 people.

I went to Valleyfair for the first time a month ago, and they shut the park down at 1 PM just as I was driving in on a Thursday. Luckily I had another day so I came back the next day and used the rest of the day on the Mall of America rides -- and the park was still walk-ons on Friday and it was sunny all day. I checked the park's Twitter, and they had been closing the park a lot throughout the summer.

I seem to remember when I was a kid that I would hope for rainy days because it would drive out the crowds, and parks would still run rides in the rain. I think that parks putting that philosophy to bed now.

My plan is that when I'm planning a road trip, I'll schedule an extra day for a park that I doubt that I would ever get to again, and keep the plans dynamic. If everything is set in stone, I'll just move on, and try to come back on another trip. I'm really happy I got VF out of the way, because I'm not ever sure if I'd be back at that park.

Last edited by Trackmaster, Thursday, September 6, 2018 11:44 AM
Thursday, September 6, 2018 4:08 PM

If someone has a poor experience on a rainy day because of new rain phobic operational choices (park closing early or limited operations) I wonder if they will not consider going to a park in the future when there is even a slight hint of rain. Probably not a great thing when most summer forecast call for some chance of rain, and everyone has that forecast at their fingertips.

Rainy days were never great for business, but I have noticed more people avoiding parks even with only a ~50% a chance of rain.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 4:21 PM

It’s a compounding issue and is just as you stated. Park closes for rain, less people show up next time there’s a chance of rain, park is even more likely to close early, repeat. This being Pittsburgh, there’s a chance of rain or storms a good percentage of days during the summer. Get a few nice days towards the end of the season and the place is packed beyond belief and substantially understaffed. Palace Entertainment (Parques’ US subsidiary) clearly doesn’t understand or care about the big picture, but rather is so tied up on each day’s financials that that they don’t see that their unfriendly policies will hurt them in the long run.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 5:20 PM

People don’t like to get wet and they know it. I mean, they took out Log Jammer, right?

I was caught in a hellacious storm there one afternoon a few years ago. It was a bad one and rather frightening. What I came to realize during all that is just how little indoor or protected space the park has. People sought shelter in the Casino building, and under the carousel structures but mainly under trees, which is always a bad idea. There are a few gift shops that are very small, the arcade, the Italian place, and the tunnel. They were all crammed with people.
Btw, the park closed early and there were rainchecks. They actually played Nighty Night around 2:30, which was funny and sad at the same time. But in the aftermath there was damage, and quite a few limbs down so I thought of it as a rare occurrence. Maybe not so much now.

Friday, September 7, 2018 8:56 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

The thing with their closures though is that they will remain open up to and during the storm rolling through but close after it's finished. A 15 minute downpour at 5 closes the park down for the evening even if the forecast is clear.

Friday, September 7, 2018 11:26 AM
birdhombre's avatar

Something similar happened on my first visit to SF Great America. After we killed a few hours visiting every gift shop and arcade to wait out the rain, the storm passed and rides reopened. A little while later, they announced the park would be closing 2 hours early because allegedly another storm was on the way. The radar on my phone said otherwise. And sure enough, the best (and sunniest) weather of the day was as we were leaving.

This could be my own confirmation bias, but at CP it seems like the olden days of "post-rain ERT" are gone. I'm guessing it's because so many people have smartphones with instant access to weather maps -- now you can see how long the rain will last and whether it's worth waiting around. Back in the day, the park would clear out after a good 15-minute rain.

Friday, September 7, 2018 4:14 PM

At least Cedar Point stays open during rain delays. Although the fact that many coasters close if there is a 30 second mist is annoying. I remember in the 90s riding at both Cedar Point and Geauga Lake in absolute downpours.

Friday, September 7, 2018 4:16 PM

They’ve gotten much better about this, at least this year. I was at CP on a fairly rainy day in May and just about all of the coasters were running. Same could be said for a rainy day at KD.

Friday, September 7, 2018 4:50 PM
Tommytheduck's avatar

bigboy said:

It shouldn't surprise me, but I'm amazed someone went to the effort to create a Facebook page/group for the sole purpose of bitching about the park. And it has 2000 members.

You're amazed that someone is using social media as a platform for anonymous complaining? You must be new... ;)

Friday, September 7, 2018 4:59 PM

Just hearing about Kennywood's tendency to close early here has me rethinking the circumstances under which I would visit. I've been interested in going but it's a good at least 2 hour drive for us and the thought that we may drive that far only to get a day cut short because it wasn't busy and rained for 45 minutes in the middle of the day would have me thinking twice. Growing up with my only experience being Cedar Point's tendency to ride everything out as best as possible the idea of closing early if the weather is expected to clear later just seems absurd. I remember once they made the announcement at Cedar Point that they were closing for the weather but it was because the storm was expected to last past closing time so in that case there really was no point to staying open the last two hours. Even then one of my kids rode Skyhawk during the downpour before the decision was made to close. Just Monday at Cedar Point Shores we were all kicked out of the water for a lightning storm that was over the lake, very close and visible yet the sun was shining on us but everyone waited and as soon as it cleared Magnum started running again and everyone in the water park realized that was the signal to get back in line or find a tube. It seems weird to me that other parks don't have that sort of keep calm carry on attitude with the weather.


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