Whether you agree or disagree with them, Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards are the largest awards in the theme park industry. They have been around for 19 years, and have gotten bigger and bigger every single year. While the awards have become predictable in the past few years, there are still some major surprise. Announced on Saturday night, this year’s awards have been some of the most surprising yet.
The Golden Tickets are chosen by a panel of enthusiasts who travel to theme parks all over the world. They are the fanboys, the coaster riders, and the park lovers. Just because a park has great attendance, and is world famous, doesn’t mean they will make the cut for The Golden Tickets.
Here are the winners for 2016:
BEST AMUSEMENT PARK: Europa-Park
BEST WATER PARK: Schlitterbahn New Braunfels
BEST MARINE LIFE PARK: SeaWorld Orlando
BEST SEASIDE PARK: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
BEST CHILDREN’S PARK: Idelwild & SoakZone
BEST DARK RIDE: Tower of Terror / Walt Disney World
FRIENDLIEST PARK: Dollywood
BEST SHOWS: Dollywood
BEST CAROUSEL: Knoebels Amusement Resort
BEST FUNHOUSE: Noah’s Ark / Kennywood Park
BEST FOOD: Knoebels Amusement Resort
BEST WATER RIDE: Valhalla / Blackpool Pleasure Beach
BEST WATER PARK RIDE: Wildebeest / Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
BEST KIDS’ AREA: Planet Snoopy / Kings Island
CLEANEST PARK: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
BEST LANDSCAPING: Busch Gardens Landscaping
BEST CHRISTMAS EVENT: Smoky Mountain Christmas / Dollywood
BEST HALLOWEEN EVENT: Halloween Horror Nights / Universal Orlando Resort
BEST NEW WATER PARK ATTRACTION OF 2016: Massiv / Schlitterbahn Galveston Island
BEST NEW AMUSEMENT PARK ATTRACTION OF 2016: Lightning Rod / Dollywood
BEST INDOOR ROLLER COASTER: Revenge of the Mummy / Universal Orlando Resort
BEST WOODEN ROLLER COASTER: Boulder Dash / Lake Compounce
BEST STEEL ROLLER COASTER: Fury 325 / Carowinds
SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR: Bolliger & Mabillard
PERSON OF THE YEAR: Raffi Kaprelyan, VP & General Manager (currently Regional VP, Cedar Fair) / Knott’s Berry Farm
RENAISSANCE AWARD: Ed Hart, General Manager / Kentucky Kingdom
PARK OF THE YEAR: Cedar Point
Some big shocks in there! For the first time in several years, Millennium Force at Cedar Point has lost the top spot to Fury 325 at Cedar Point. Cedar Point also stayed firmly in the number two spot for Best Amusement Park, a spot it lost last year to Europa Park. Also a big shock, for the first time in Golden Ticket history, Islands of Adventure does not have the top spot for Best Dark Ride. Perhaps it was the fact that Tower of Terror is closing in Disneyland, but Tower of Terror at Walt Disney World has claimed the top spot for Best Dark Ride. It would have been a much larger statement if Disneyland would have won it, but you can’t be picky about these things.
The category of Best Outdoor Show Production was removed this year, and replaced with a general “Best Shows” category. That honor went pretty easily to Dollywood, who has done amazing things with their shows in the past few years.
The best new ride category went to Lightning Rod at Dollywood, which is the world’s first launched wooden coaster. Though the ride has broken new records, and is a marvel of engineering, it has not been without its problems as the coaster missed the opening day, and spend most of the summer season testing.
What do you think of this year’s Golden Tickets?
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