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Kennywood Park 12/9/11


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I followed the arrow to West Mifflin for a little yuletide fun. The park was nicely decorated with lights through out the park and Christmas music played through out. Only half the park was open, with Bayern Curve, Parkside Cafe and Train Station being the barrier line. Here are some highlights.

Rides: Carousel (w/ band organ playing Christmas music), Kangaroo, Paratrooper, Auto Race, Train (Gingerbread Express), Little Phantom, and Kiddieland.

Santa in a mock Racer car on the platform of The Racer.

A light show on the pond every half hour.

Local Choirs near the Pagoda.

Train and "It's a Wonderful Life" displays in the Parkside Cafe.

Petting Zoo in Kiddieland

$5.00 souvenir mugs with free refills on hot beverages (hot chocolate, cider, and coffee).

The public was enjoying it, with decent crowds (all the ques were full at one point and they open up the second level lot) and according to people it was busier the week before. Other observations, the wooden coaster trains are stored next to the Log Jammer bathrooms, Pitt Fall is being removed and the Rankin Bridge is done. Admission is $13 plus $1 admission tax, $2 dollar off coupons located at local Giant Eagles. As always, the parking is FREE!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and hopes the event returns next year with more of the park open. My closing thought is if Kennywood can, why not Kings Island?

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I thoroughly enjoyed myself and hopes the event returns next year with more of the park open. My closing thought is if Kennywood can, why not Kings Island?

KI's was a huge venture and was poorly executed. Sorry if I offend any former "PKI" peeps with that comment, but it's true. The event lost a lot of money too, but according to a former credible employee, they had expected to loose money the first year, although I imagine they didn't expect it to be so poorly attended. They had daily operations in the week leading up to Christmas, and I think I went on a Tuesday and overheard a net Alpha call of like 800 from a security guard's radio that happened to be near me.

Winterfest was however a beautiful and wonderful event. Definitely the most immersive thing that Paramount ever did with the park. The shows were incredible and the food was fantastic.

In my opinion, there were certain key things that were done wrong, some from the start:

- At the announcement, they said that you need to buy tickets early because there's a good chance of certain days selling out. Instead of creating the sense of urgency that they wanted, I think that it just made people assume that the park would be crowded, so it was a bad first impression.

-The event was priced out of the market. I think it was like $25 originally, and they ended up selling tickets as low as $10 by the end of the event. I think I even got a coupon through e-mail offering tickets for $8. $10 or $12 would have been a much more reasonable price point. When the papers came out talking about Christmas events, KI looked like a bad guy with their even costing $25 and everyone else's was no more than $10 or so.

-They had a golden opportunity to promote the next year's season passes with it and let it slip. They offered a discount with a 2005 (I think) season pass, but it really should have been free... at least for one visit. The discount was like $22 instead of $25, so it was hardly worth buying a pass early for that reason alone.

-The park had a LOT of trouble finding employees to work the event, and it would be event tougher now with new minor labor laws.

-Paramount threw in a taste of, "Over-promise and under-deliver" that we became used to. Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle was supposed to have a Christmas makeover, but it just ended up being open like normal. They also let things fall apart after the first weekend. They had a wonderful light display over Swan Lake (now DB's splashdown) and they had some very obvious strands of lights burnt out within the first few days. What was a magical display the weekend after Thanksgiving looked like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree by New Year's Eve.

-They had an overcomplicated system that wasn't necessary. In anticipation for the "sell out crowds" they created a ticket system for the KI Theatre's show, "Santa's Toy Factory," in which you'd have to go to the Return Visit Booth (where you now buy Fast Lane tickets) and get a ticket for one of the night's shows. The night that there were like 800 people in the park, I attended a show that literally had 15 people in the theatre and they still made me go to the Return Visit Booth to get a ticket.

Some things affected attendance, but some made people not want to come back. I think the small crowds created a downward spiral. There was a lot of stuff to do, but with no one in the park you could do it all in about two hours, so it felt like there was nothing to do. Perhaps that was both the initial and ultimate blow.

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