Amusement Today’s 2014 Golden Ticket Awards announced with some big upsets


The Golden Ticket Awards are considered by industry insiders, and many enthusiasts to be the final word in Amusement Industry Awards. Over the past few years, however, they have faced a mountain of criticism over the perennial winners, and the seemingly one sided winners. This year’s Golden Tickets have shaken things up quite a bit, with a few of the normal winners losing out to other parks this year. The list of winners this year has been released in a huge ceremony at SeaWorld San Diego, the birth place of marine parks as we know them.




The “Best of the Best” are the  results of a detailed survey that is sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world, asking them to rate the “bests” in 25 categories. This year saw a huge upset in the voting as, for the first time in 17 years the Best Park has changed.

Here’s a run down of the winners:

  • Best New Attraction-Flying Turns at Knoebels took the top spot over Banshee at Kings Island and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts at Universal Orlando’s highly anticipated Diagon Alley
  • Best New Water Park Ride-Hands down the best new waterpark ride was Verruckt at Schlitterbahn Kansas City. The slide isn’t only the tallest and fastest, but the most talked about new waterslide of the year
  • Best Children’s Park-Idlewild&Soak Zone once again takes home the best kids park title
  • Best Kids’ Area-Kings Island takes home the best kids area for another year. You would think that the best kids park would also have the best kids area
  • Best Marine Life Park-SeaWorld Orlando takes home the best Marine life title once again, but Six Flags Discovery Kingdom knocks SeaWorld San Antonio out of the top four
  • Best Seaside Park-Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk takes home the Golden Ticket once again
  • Cleanest Park-Holiday World is on a roll this year with the announcement of their first steel coaster, and now taking home the Golden Ticket for Cleanest Park
  • Friendliest Park-Dollywood takes the award almost every year, and for good reason, the park is full of friendly staff just busting with Southern Hospitatlity
  • Best Shows-Dollywood has been on a roll the past few years with groundbreaking new shows for just about every season
  • Best Outdoor Show Production-Illuminations at Epcot is one of the longest running, and longest winning outdoor show productions at a theme park
  • Best Landscaping-Busch Gardens Williamsburg has been consistently named as the most beautiful park in the world. It is set against the rolling hills of Virginia and has tons of wooded areas that just add to the European feel of the park
  • Best Food-Dollywood may not have the market on “gluten free” but they do have it cornered on delicious, down home goodness
  • Best Carousel-Knoebels Amusement Resort has one of the oldest in the country
  • Best Water Ride (Park)-Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls Universal’s Islands of Adventure is the reigning king of soak.
  • Best Water Park Ride-Wildebeest Splashin’ Safari is a monster, taking guests on a huge wet ride
  • Best Dark Ride-Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Universal’s Islands of Adventure takes the title, but the real surprise is that Tower of Terror knocked Spiderman out of the number 2 spot, and that Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts isn’t even in the top five
  • Best Indoor Water Park-Schlitterbahn Galveston Island beats the Texas heat by going indoors
  • Best Indoor Roller Coaster-Revenge of the Mummy Universal Studios continues to take the souls of guests, and they love it
  • Best Funhouse/Walk-Through-Noah’s Ark Kennywood is a classic Fun House living up to the name of fun
  • Best Halloween Event-Universal Studios Orlando has won yet again. Despite the constant griping of fans, the park proves to the industry that they know what they’re doing when it comes to Halloween
  • Best Christmas Event-Dollywood has a down home Christmas that’s all about tradition. It beats out the others by a huge margin
  • Best Water Park-Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, has won the Award so many times, it’s not even funny anymore. The park may not look like much on the outside, but once you get in the mix of classic water rides with new thrills just blows guests away. It’s the original Schlitterbahn, and it’s fed by the river!
  • Best Park-Europa-Park Rust, Germany took the coveted spot from Cedar Point for the first time in 17 years there’s a new king. Not only did Europa take the crown from North America, but it beat Cedar Point hands down by a huge margin. So why the slip after 16 years? We have no idea, but perhaps it will cause Cedar Point to step up their already A+ game a little in the coming years. Plus, there’s Mantis. For all intents an purposes, the park is closing it in October. Could that be the reason for the slip? Better luck next year!

The Golden Tickets also names the Top 10 coasters in both the wooden and steel categories. The list doesn’t change much over the years, with the top spots only moving slightly.

Here’s the top ten Steel coasters:

  1. Millennium Force Cedar Point
  2. Bizarro Six Flags New England
  3. Expedition GeForce Holiday Park Hassloch, Germany
  4. Diamondback Kings Island
  5. Nitro Six Flags Great Adventure
  6. Leviathan Canada’s Wonderland
  7. Apollo’s Chariot Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  8. New Texas Giant Six Flags Over Texas
  9. Goliath Six Flags Over Georgia
  10. Intimidator Carowinds

The Top Ten Wooden Coasters:

  1. Boulder Dash Lake Compounce
  2. El Toro Six Flags Great Adventure
  3. The Voyage Holiday World
  4. Phoenix Knoebels Amusement Resort
  5. Thunderhead Dollywood
  6. Ravine Flyer II Waldameer
  7. Gold Striker California’s Great America
  8. The Beast Kings Island
  9. Outlaw Run Silver Dollar City
  10. Balder Liseberg Gothenburg, Sweden


There’s this year’ Golden Ticket Awards! What do you think of this year’s crop of winners?

Stay tuned as we roll out our fifth annual Behind The Thrills Thrill Weekly Polls in Mid-October. Our polls will let YOU choose the best in the theme park industry. Check out last year’s winners by clicking here! In the meantime, get social with us on Facebook, and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!

For the full list of winners, visit the official Golden Ticket Awards website by clicking here!