So Amusement Today just released the list of their 2009 Golden Ticket Awards. This is always a bit of a controversial list because quite frankly, its the same winners all over. Is it biased? Hell yeah it is. According to their website the awards “are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today. Surveys were sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world – in balanced geographical regions – asking them to rate the “bests” in 25 categories such as “amusement parks,” “roller coasters,” “shows,” “friendliest staff” and “water rides.”
Yeah, and who are these “well-traveled amusement park fans”? Clearly they are all members of Ace and they are all located in the northern region. But enough of my griping, for now, here are the list of “winners”:
Best Amusement Park
Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park
LEGOLAND California, Carlsbad, Calif.
Best Marine Life Park
SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster
The Voyage at Holiday World, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Steel Coaster
at Six Flags New England, Agawam, Mass.
Best Kids’ Area
Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Halloween Event
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla..
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event
Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood,
Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Outdoor Night Show Production
IllumiNations: Reflections of the Earth
at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, Orlando, Fla.
Best Water Ride
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
Best Waterpark Ride
Master Blaster at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort,
New Braunfels, Texas
Best Dark Ride
Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Ride of 2009 – Amusement Park
Prowler at Worlds of Fun, Kansas City, Mo.
Best New Ride of 2009 – Waterpark
Congo River Expedition at Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort,
Best Indoor Roller Coaster
Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Orlando,
Best Indoor Waterpark
Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction
Frankenstein’s Castle at Indiana Beach, Monticello, Ind.
Some, and I mean very little, of these hit it on the mark for me. Some others are outright stupid. These awards are clearly biased, in my opinion, and they are done by those who are just fans….like I said…ACErs. But let’s take a look at the ones I have the biggest problems with.
Best Park: Cedar Point. Are you EFFING KIDDING ME!?!? CEDAR POINT? Based on what? It’s a coaster park. The attendance records of this park has nothing compared to what I think should have won. And those of you who know me, hold onto your socks….My pick: Magic Kingdom. It has the numbers, it has the attractions for the whole family, it has the themeing and the atmosphere. Shows, great food, friendly staff, amazing fireworks…this park has it all…except for big ass record breaking coasters. Really?
Best Kids Area:Kings Island. What, a bunch of flat rides, and a few coasters? That’s completely and totally better than anything? Sorry, but no. Let’s look at any Disney kids areas, Camp Jurassic at IOA, Seuss Landing at IOA…anything is better than the kids zone at KI. Sorry KI fans, but you know its true. Again, does not match in theming or sheer fun factor to anything else.
Best New Attraction: Prowler. How in the hell do you figure? It’s a wooden coaster, but it doesn’t make the best wooden coaster..in fact it barely makes the top ten. What about the metal behemoth that is Diamondback? What about the complete and total immersion that is Manta. Thats my pick, btw, Manta….How you can go from a completely ice smooth B&M surrounded by a completely innovative aquarium, and a complete and total new world to a wooden panther named coaster is beyond me.
Those are just a few that chap my ass. Sure, I’m not right…but Amusement Today…you’re wrong. Dead wrong. There has to be a better way to get a less biased opinion…something that might reflect actual fact better. The awards that IAAPA gives out is a little bit better because they are given out by people in the Industry, not by fan boys and members of the board at certain parks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a lot of the people are really nice, but this is about business…and a lot of these parks are given golden meal tickets because of these completely biased awards. This is the same publication that listed Knoebels as a best Halloween Haunt for years. Do they even go? DO THEY?
I don’t have the answers on a better way to do, because what other sites do is just as bad. They have perrenial winners, they have a lot of readers concentrated in one specific area that votes for one specific brand…which is why Mythos has been named best theme park resturaunt for many many years. Listen, we either need to find a better way, or not put so much into these awards. Just my say, and I’m not saying anything, I’m just sayin.