Written by Russell Meyer
Published: August 28, 2005 at 8:56 PM
The annual best-of list from Amusement Today, better known as the Golden Tickets, were just released, and in this edition of the BLOGFlume, I’m going to dissect the results. The results, as usual, are not terribly surprising, but there were a few changes from last year’s results. So let’s get to the winners…
1. Cedar Point 37%
2. Islands of Adventure 14%
3. Blackpool Pleasure Beach 9%
4. Europa Park 7%
4. Knoebel’s 7%
This list does not offer much of surprise, other than Cedar Point increasing its popularity from last year (35% in 2004 to 37% in 2005). Cedar Point is a great amusement park, but I don’t feel that it has gotten significantly better over the years. As with many other awards, the status quo continues to rule. Europa Park displaces Kennywood from the top five, but the others are repeats from last year.
1. Schlitterbahn 52%
2. Splashin’ Safari 17%
3. Blizzard Beach 7%
4. Noah’s Ark 5%
5. Typhoon Lagoon 3%
Schlitterbahn continues its dominance in the waterpark category with Disney’s two waterparks staying in the top five. Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells displaced Boomerang Bay at Paramount’s Kings Island, but once again the status quo is maintained.
Best Children’s Park
1. Legoland 44%
2. Idlewild 12%
3. Kiddieland 9%
4. Sesame Place 8%
5. Dutch Wonderland 6%
Legoland maintains its top spot in this category as the best theme park for kids. As with the other categories, four of the top five are repeats from last year, with Chicago’s Kiddieland taking the place of Cleveland’s Memphis Kiddie Park in this year’s top five.
Friendliest Park Staff
1. Holiday World 47%
2. Dollywood 17%
3. Cedar Point 7%
3. Knoebel’s 7%
5. Magic Kingdom 4%
Holiday World once again is tops in this category, with the next four repeats of last year’s top 4. A new entry this year, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, breaks into the top five by knocking out Silver Dollar City.
1. Holiday World 37%
2. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 10%
3. Cedar Point 9%
4. Magic Kingdom 7%
5. Disneyland 6%
All five of these repeat from last year with Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Cedar Point pushing Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom down two spots to #4.
1. Six Flags Fiesta Texas 30%
2. Dollywood 19%
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 10%
4. Silver Dollar City 6%
5. Cedar Point 5%
5. Disney/MGM Studios 5%
The status quo is once again maintained with the top five parks in this category. Disney/MGM Studios manages to sneak into a tie with Cedar Point in this category.
1. Knoebel’s 26%
2. EPCOT 13%
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 12%
4. Dollywood 11%
5. Silver Dollar City 9%
Once again four of the five in this categories are repeaters from last year with Dollywood cracking the top five and pushing Kennywood out. It seems that the simplistic fair-style food of Knoebel’s is more popular than the exotic and international cuisine of both EPCOT and Busch Gardens Williamsburg. However, the gap is beginning to close.
1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 43%
2. Efteling 18%
3. Bonfante Gardens 7%
4. Europa Park 4%
5. Busch Gardens Tampa 3%
This category saw one of the biggest changes in the top five with two Disney parks, EPCOT and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, inexplicably dropping from the top five to be replaced by Europa Park and Busch Gardens Tampa. I’m not sure how a Disney park cannot be on this list, but I guess it’s just a major theme of these awards.
Best Outdoor Night Production
1. EPCOT 27%
2. Six Flags Fiesta Texas 21%
3. Disneyland 13%
4. Disney/MGM Studios 12%
5. Cedar Point 9%
In a departure from the general trend, the Amusement Today voters finally recognize a Disney park by giving the Golden ticket to Illuminations at EPCOT. This was the one major award that saw a change at the top from last years, as EPCOT’s show trumped last year’s winner, Six Flags Fiesta Texas. However, the entire top five was in last year’s top five.
So, as it would seem, the Amusement Today voters are pretty good at making photocopies of last year’s ballots, but the one award that could not repeat last year’s results showed a somewhat surprising result.
Best New Ride for 2005
1. Hades 45%
2. Kingda Ka 16%
3. Italian Job 8%
4. maXair 6%
4. Powder Keg 6%
4. SheiKra 6%
By an overwhelming majority, Hades at Mt. Olympus wins this Golden ticket over a ride that didn’t operate for half of the year. The one glaring omission from this list has to be Theme Park Insider’s best new attraction winner, Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Now lets move onto everyone’s favorite and most controversial lists, the top coaster lists…
Best Steel Roller Coaster
1. Millennium Force Cedar Point
2. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags New England
3. Magnum XL-200 Cedar Point
4. Apollo’s Chariot Busch Gardens Williamsburg
5. Nitro Six Flags Great Adventure
6. Expedition GeForce Holiday Park
7. Top Thrill Dragster Cedar Point
8. Phantom’s Revenge Kennywood
9. Raging Bull Six Flags Great America
10. Montu Busch Gardens Tampa
11. Raptor Card Point
12. X Six Flags Magic Mountain
13. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags Darien Lake
14. Steel Force Dorney Park
15. Dueling Dragons Islands of Adventure
16. Nemesis Alton Towers
17. Alpengeist Busch Gardens Williamsburg
18. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags America
19. Incredible Hulk Islands of Adventure
20. Goliath Six Flags Magic Mountain
The top three coasters remain unchanged, and I still cannot figure how Magnum is a top 10 roller coaster, while one of the best coasters on earth, Kraken at Sea World Orlando, was left on the outside of the top 20 at #26. I cannot complain about most of the coasters on this list, but I would probably have arranged them a little differently.
Best Wooden Roller Coaster
1. Thunderhead Dollywood
2. Boulder Dash Lake Compounce
3. Shivering Timbers Michigan’s Adventure
4. Phoenix Knoebel’s
5. Raven Holiday World
6. Hades Mt. Olympus
7. The Legend Holiday World
8. The Beast Paramount’s Kings Island
9. Lightning Racer Hersheypark
10. Ghostrider Knott’s Berry Farm
11. Avalanche Timber Falls
12. Texas Giant Six Flags Over Texas
13. Megafobia Oakwood Leisure Park
14. Cyclone Astroland (Coney Island)
15. Tremors Silverwood
16. Ozark Wildcat Celebration City
17. Rampage Visionland
18. Cornball Express Indiana Beach
19. Colossus Heide Park
20. Comet The Great Escape
There’s not much to complain about this list as the voters vault Dollywood’s Thunderhead to the top spot ahead of Boulder Dash. The high debut of Hades at #6 would suggest that it’s in line for #1 next year, since Thunderhead debuted on last year’s list at #7.
So that’s the major categories, and just like every year, parks change, but these awards seem to stay the same. While I agree with giving credit to a lot of the theme parks that are not owned by Disney, it’s really confusing to see Disney parks omitted from a number of these lists. I agree that Cedar Point is a great park, and that it has some great coasters, but these awards show quite a bit of bias towards the Sandusky, Ohio park. These awards also seem to ignore the work done by Disney to keep their parks as some of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. At any rate, there they are, and now it’s your turn to dissect them.