2013 Golden Ticket Awards announced by Amusement Today offers no big surprises in annual theme park awards


Award season officially starts today in the theme park and amusement industry as Amusement Today announced their 15th annual Golden Ticket Awards from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The annual awards are meant to celebrate the “best of the best” in the theme park industry, by having a panel of “well traveled enthusiasts from all over the world”. The Golden Tickets have become the largest awards in the theme park industry, and something that parks display proudly. Year after year, however, not much changes. This year is no exception as almost all of the parks who won in previous years, take home the gold this year.


golden ticket

The Golden Ticket touts the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry, with many parks winning awards that some of the general public have never heard of. They’ve taken little sleepy parks like Holiday World and put them on the map, and have made coaster parks like Cedar Point a number one fan destination. In general, the larger parks like Disney and Universal aren’t ranked very high in the main categories of “Best Park” and “Best Ride” and instead pick up some of the other awards like “Best outdoor show” or “Best Dark Ride”. Regardless of how you feel about the awards, they are a huge honor for the amusement industry, and make for great advertising points.

Here are the 2013 winners:

  • Best new attraction:Outlaw Run-Silver Dollar City
  • Best new attraction (Waterpark):River Rush-Dollywood
  • Best Park-Cedar Point
  • Best Waterpark-Schlitterbahn
  • Best Children’s Park-Idlewild&Soak Zone
  • Best Marine Life Park-SeaWorld Orlando
  • Best Seaside Park-Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Best Kids Area-Kings Island
  • Cleanest Park-Holiday World
  • Friendliest Park-Dollywood
  • Best Shows-Dollywood
  • Best Outdoor Show Production-Epcot
  • Best Landscaping-Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • Best Food-TIE Dollywood&Knoebels
  • Best Carousel-Knoebels
  • Best Water Ride-Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls: Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Best Waterpark Ride-Wildebeest:Splashin Safari
  • Best Dark Ride-Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey:Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  • Best Indoor Waterpark-Schlitterbahn Galveston Texas
  • Best Indoor Roller Coaster-Revenge of the Mummy:Universal Studios Florida
  • Best Halloween Event-Halloween Horror Nights Orlando
  • Best Christmas Event-Dollywood

While change doesn’t happen very suddenly on the Golden Ticket awards, it does happen sometimes. Perennial Dark Ride winner Amazing Adventures of Spiderman was overthrown by it’s next door neighbor Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey in 2011. Best Halloween Event has flipped back and forth between Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights a few times, before HHN took the crown for good.

The awards also lists the top ten wood and steel coasters, which is the real gold. The top spot in the list seldom changes, with Millennium Force once again taking home the Golden Ticket for Best Steel and although the lesser spots do move around quite a bit. The top spot for Best Wooden Coaster is a shocker this year, with Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce taking home the Golden Ticket. Last year the coaster was in the number 5 spot on the award list.

Congratulations to all the winners. For the full list, be sure to check out the official Amusement Today website by clicking here.

Keep following along with us, as we will roll out voting for our very own Thrill Weekly Awards beginning in October. We will offer a new poll every week beginning in October where YOU get to choose the Best of the Best in the theme park industry. This will be our fourth year doing the awards, so you won’t want to miss it! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest!