An Uber event for drivers at the Museum of Science and Industry was overcrowded, leading to people being turned away after spending hours in traffic to attend, people said. Credit: Twitter

CHICAGO — Thousands of Uber drivers and their families and friends were promised a free party Monday night at the Museum of Science and Industry.

What they got instead was an “unorganized catastrophe,” as one person put it on Twitter.

The Monday night party was organized by Uber to show appreciation for its drivers, with employees told they’d get free access to the museum and free food for themselves and several guests. But the event proved far more popular than Uber had originally anticipated.

Drivers and others then took to social media to blast Uber, complaining they’d been stuck in traffic for hours only to be told the museum’s parking lot was full and they’ve have to find parking elsewhere or — as happened later in the night — the museum itself was too full and they couldn’t come in.

“We’re thankful for the thousands of partner drivers and their families who attended tonight’s event to celebrate Uber in Chicago,” an Uber spokesman said. “However, hundreds more than RSVP’d came and we had to close admission to the event for everyone’s safety when the venue reached capacity.”

Inside the museum, photos showed large crowds of people and event wait staff reportedly walking over museum exhibits to serve food. Young children were crying as their families were turned away due to the museum being at capacity, some attendees said.

The Museum of Science and Industry referred questions about the event to Uber.

A message to drivers to tell them the event was too full wasn’t sent out until hours after people were already being turned away, several people said.

“Uber invited all of the drivers for a free family event at the Museum of Science and Industry, which was super unorganized,” one person tweeted. “Literally wasted 3 hrs trying to get here through traffic, finding parking, walking all the way there to find out its over capacity & couldnt go in.”

“Thanks @Uber for making my 5 year old niece cry because you can’t arrange an event and had to turn us away at the door for a night at the museum of science and Industry,” another person tweeted. “All she wanted was to have her face painted.”

People living near the museum complained, too, saying the normally pedestrian-friendly area had been jam-packed with cars and traffic had slowed to a crawl due to the event.

“So @Uber had a driver appreciation and it took me an hour to get down here just to be turned away,” one would-be attendee tweeted. “Definitely feeling like this is exactly how Uber feels about us…#yikes.”

Here’s what happened:

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