124-Year-Old Amusement Park Is Not Safe According To D.A., May Not Open On Schedule

Phantom's Revenge at Kennywood
(Image credit: Kennywood)

Kennywood park in Pennsylvania is one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, having originally opened in 1899. The park is so old it’s actually a national historic landmark, but the park may not open on schedule this year, for its 125th season, as the district attorney is calling the park unsafe and says he will work to keep the park closed if safety recommendations from his office are not adopted.

In a press conference (via the Pittsburg Post-Gazette), Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said that Kennywood is unsafe and that he would go to court to block the park’s scheduled April 22 opening. This move comes following a shooting incident that occurred in the park during its annual Halloween event last September. Three people were injured in the shooting. Charges were brought against a 15-year-old suspect but a judge threw out that case. Zappala said…

I’d hate to see the opening of Kennywood be delayed, but I’m very serious and law enforcement is very serious about making that environment safe. I don’t think it’s safe right now

A number of new policies and procedures have been implemented since the incident. Since shortly after the shooting no guests under 18 have been allowed inside Kennywood without an adult older than 21. In addition, trees along the fence line were trimmed and new floodlights were added to improve visibility inside the park, regular patrols have also been increased. 

The park has metal detectors that all guests and staff walk through and had them at the time of the shooting. Exactly how the gun made it inside the park is unclear, but the investigation is still ongoing. New bag policies, limiting the size and type of bags allowed inside the park have already been implemented.

It’s unclear exactly what recommendations have been made to Kennywood that are not being implemented, but the D.A. did specifically mention gaps in the fence line that he felt were large enough for a slim person to fit through, or for weapons to be passed to somebody already inside.

Kennywood is far from the only park to have safety concerns in recent months. Last summer, Knott's Berry Farm also had a shooting incident in its parking lot a couple of years ago. Last summer fights broke out at Knott's, forcing the park to close early. A new chaperone policy, similar to the one implemented at Kennywood, was established in the aftermath. We've also seen violent altercations surrounding Halloween events. Last season a scareactor at Universal Studios Hollywood was assaulted by a guest

With Kennywood getting ready for its 125th season, it’s a major milestone for the amusement park, and certainly, there are plans for special events to mark the occasion. These plans would certainly be sidetracked if there is an actual problem opening the park. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.