I was at Kennywood yesterday.
Yesterday was they day that Kennywood closed at 5:45 pm due to the severe thunderstorm that went through (four people were killed in flash flooding). I have to say that I was NOT impressed with the way it was handled by the Kennywood staff. I only saw one staff member (she appeared to be a manager) alerting people that the park was closing, though they did make an announcement. I only saw two other staffers at the gate as thousands of people exited en masse.
The manager had told us tickets would be issued so that we could return another day. Very nice of them, I thought. Most major parks wouldn’t do that. We trudged all the way back to the gate and exited. No tickets offered. No one in sight. We doubled back and found someone who had found the tickets: they’d stood in a long line, and the tickets were only good the rest of the 2011 season. There was also a rumor circulating that you needed to produce your ticket stubs to get the return tickets. I had my two kids with me, we were tired and soaked to the skin, and our schedule wouldn’t allow us to return to Kennywood before the closed for the season, so we opted not to bother with the return tickets.
We trudged up to the parking lot at the top of the escalators (which were not running; I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were shut off due to the electrical storm), where we waited in our cars for over an HOUR to get out of the parking lot. There was no one directing traffic. The only staffers I saw were getting in their cars and joining the traffic jam. I ended up escaping from the lot through an enter-only driveway that, had there been security directing traffic, SHOULD have been used as an exit lane.
Look, I am a patient person, and I understand that this was an unexpected weather emergency. But it seems to me that an organization as large as Kennywood should have an emergency evacuation plan that doesn’t involve sending their staff home before the paying park guests. There was more than one occasion where it seemed that the mass exodus could have turned into mass chaos, but I believe that the only reason it didn’t was because ‘Burghers are generally kind, patient people.