So, the announcement. The park was closing early, at 6 pm, because of incoming severe storm cells. They were giving out rain checks at the Guest Services desk. If we wanted to ride anything we should get there right away. And we should tell anyone we see about the early closing.
We gulped down the rest of our drinks and ran for Rollo Coaster, figuring if we got one ride in we were doing well, and found that other people had mostly heard about the early closing but were maybe less clear on the rain checks. A park employee came over and pulled the chain across the entrance. Ours was the last passenger ride for the day. We walked a bit around the emptying-to-empty park and all these rides battening down for the storm.
We weren't sure exactly where Guest Services was but supposed we couldn't miss it if we just watched for the big crowd where people were lined up. We also had to go to the bathroom but supposed they wouldn't have the whole thing emptied out that fast that we would miss the rain checks being given out. And both these calculations would prove correct: there was a huge line wending through Hootin' Holler, at the head of which was almost certainly Guest Services. At our end of the line were a number of people growling about the problem. The slow movement of the line was the first issue: how long could it take to hand out rain checks? Why didn't they have every park employee handing them out? And there was skepticism that they even needed to close: one woman said she'd called her friend (or something) in (name of southwestern Pennsylvania town) where the storms always come first and there was nothing there. A more fair gripe was from someone who said they'd heard management decided to close two hours ago but they were still selling all-day tickets to people without any warning they were closing early.
But eventually the line started to move. And we saw why the line was slow at all: they were cutting off people's plastic wristbands --- the ones you put on as you get a day pass --- and giving out tickets on collecting those. And apparently they don't want just every park employee taking scissors to people's wrists. Fair enough.
Later, in the nearly-empty parking lot, we realized the subtle genius of this system: besides making sure that only people who had day passes to the park would get rain checks --- remember, Idlewild hasn't got gates; you could easily just walk in from the road --- it also meant that rather than everybody in the park leaving on the narrow road at one time, instead, there'd be a steady drizzle of parties leaving as they got their wrists taken care of. I don't know that they meant it that way, but it worked that way. Despite most of the park's crowd having left before us, we didn't have any delays getting out of the parking lot. Or they wanted everyone to see their poster for the Princesses In The Park event in July (meet Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Beauty).
The rain checks first show how utterly right we were to take Kennywood on Tuesday, since being rained out of Kennywood two years in a row would have just been horrible. It also offers an interesting point. We didn't really intend to come all the way back to Pittsburgh just for another day in Idlewild, except, the rain checks say explicitly that they're good for the September and October ``Hallowboo'' Halloween events. Kennywood's last year wasn't good for that; they worry about overcrowding as Halloween has become insanely popular for amusement parks. Now, though, we have a pretext to come see the Idlewild and the Kennywood Halloween weekends, which is a very tempting thing after all. It doesn't quite make sense to, but, they did give us free admission to one of the parks. We must think about it more.
As we drove back to our Red Roof Plus+ home, we saw the storm rolling in: a line of bright clouds and then a uniform dark grey underneath, with a couple hints of lightning flashes. bunny_hugger grew more worried as the storm approached (``Just because the sky is turning colors unknown in nature,'' I joked). And then it really hit, with a brief --- as in, under a second or so -- wave of hail and heavy rain. We found a Barnes and Noble and ducked in. There we looked around at nothing in particular, going over the Spark Notes to various books to see which ones we'd read for middle or high school, pondering the gold-leaf for-show collections of various books (bunny_hugger considered one of Plato, but it had a translation she didn't favor, and while a fine-looking book is nice she'd also want it to be one she could use). Eventually we sat down for coffee and tea, and I found a music magazine which had not just Trevor Horn named on the cover (it was just a one-page interview) but also a one-page interview with Ron Mael of Sparks. Ron Mael explained why he's giving that intense death-stare when performing on stage.
The storm would eventually abate, and we could drive the rest of the way home. For dinner proper we hoped to just get something light like sandwiches, but we were too late for the Subway in the area, and we tried an Eat-n-Park instead of Denny's again. They had vegetarian burgers, so that's all well.
On the inside of the door to the men's room they had a yellow arrow pointing down with the text ``Is Kennywood Open?'' I thought this was amusing enough by itself but bunny_hugger explained it's better than that: apparently, ``Kennywood's open'' is a Pittsburgh-area slang for ``your fly is open'' and so the question is relevant in the men's room.
That wrapped up our last day in the Pittsburgh area. We'd check out in the morning and head northward.
Trivia: In 1853 Edward Bulwer-Lytton sold ten years' worth of paperback rights for novels already written to Routledge's Railway Library for £20,000, £5,000 down. Source: The Age of Capital, 1848 - 1875, Eric Hobsbawm.
Currently Reading: Madame Blavatsky: The Woman Behind The Myth, Marion Meade.
PS: June 2014 In Mathematics Blogging, how that went.