Golden Ticket Awards – Well, the awards are in…..and the only thing of high significance is how noticeably missing Six Flags parks are. Cedar Point and Schlitterbahn kept their crowns for Best Park and Best Waterpark. The only park award that Six Flags was even close on was a second place for Best Shows at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, something that is not really a huge selling point for the franchise. Here is a list of the winners:
Best New Ride: New Texas Giant @ Six Flags Over Texas
Best New Waterpark Ride: The Falls @ Schlitterbahn
Best Children’s Park: Idlewild
Best Marine Life Park: SeaWorld Orlando
Best Seaside Park: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Best Indoor Waterpark: Schlitterbahn Galveston Island
Friendliest Park: Holiday World
Cleanest Park: Holiday World
Best Shows: Dollywood
Best Food: Knoebels
Best Water Ride: Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls @ Islands of Adventure
Best Waterpark Ride: Wildebeest @ Holiday World
Best Kid’s Area: Kings Island
Best Dark Ride: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey @ Islands of Adventure
Best Outdoor Show: Epcot
Best Landscaping: Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Best Halloween Event: Universal Orlando
Best Christmas Event: Dollywood
Best Carousel: Knoebels
Best Indoor Coaster: Revenge of the Mummy @ Universal Studios Orlando
Best Walk-Through Attraction: Noah’s Ark @ Kennywood
Living Legend Award: Dick Kinzel
Top Ten Parks:
1. Cedar Point
6. Universal’s Islands of Adventure
7. Busch Gardens Williamsburg
8. (tie) Tokyo DisneySea
8. (tie) Kennywood
10. (tie) Holiday World
10. (tie) Pleasure Beach Blackpool
Top Ten Steel Coasters:
1. Millennium Force @ Cedar Point
2. Bizarro @ Six Flags New England
3. Nitro @ Six Flags Great Adventure
4. Goliath @ Six Flags Over Georgia
5. Phantom’s Revenge @ Kennywood
6. New Texas Giant @ Six Flags Over Texas
7. (tie) Apollo’s Chariot @ Busch Gardens Williamsburg
7. (tie) Expedition GeForce @ Holiday Park (Germany)
9. Top Thrill Dragster @ Cedar Point
10. Magnum XL-200
Top Ten Wood Coasters:
1. The Voyage @ Holiday World
2. Phoenix @ Knoebels
3. El Toro @ Six Flags Great Adventure
4. Boulder Dash @ Lake Compounce
5. Thunderhead @ Dollywood
6. Ravine Flyer II @ Waldameer
7. The Beast @ Kings Island
8. Hades @ Mt. Olympus
9. Shivering Timbers @ Michigan’s Adventure
10. Prowler @ Worlds of Fun
To check out the full list of winners, please click on Golden Ticket Awards
A couple of things that I have not been able to figure out, and please post any comments below to justify any points or problems that you may have with these results.
1. How did Knoebels get so high in the voting?
2. While Cedar Point makes sense to me, why is Magic Mountain nowhere to be seen as co-coaster capital of the world?
3. Are Knoebels, Europa-Park, and Dollywood all better than Disneyland?
4. Is there any particular reason why the Magic Kingdom and Epcot are nowhere on the Best Parks list?
And no, the awards don't make sense. As I have noted before, Cedar Point was voted the Best Amusement Park (again) yet it failed to win even an honorable mention in any other category except steel coasters (MF is ranked #1). Sure, it is a fine iron ride park, but how can it be the best when it fails in almost every other important category? For my money, I'd rather go to Knotts Berry Farm or Kings Dominion. At least they are both close to some really great theme parks (Disneyland / Busch Gardens).
Anyway, it is nice to see my local woodie, the Prowler, hanging on for another year!
Still, one must question the validity of any award list that a) doesn't mention the coaster capital of the world, b) thinks Richard "Dick" Kinzel is a genius, c) spells "Children" wrong (Childern? Really?), and d) doesn't even mention the world's most popular theme park.
But again, use the Golden Ticket awards the way they are intended: to help guide you in your more localized amusement park travels (as opposed to your vacation destinations). The Amusement Today folks do know thrill/iron ride parks quite well (as evidenced by the Voyage continuing to be the #1 wooden coaster in the world), and if a coaster makes the top ten in one of their lists, you can bet it will offer a fine ride indeed!
As pointed out above, how can Cedar Point be the "best" when it doesn't even place in the top five of any other category? Shouldn't the best park just maybe have something like the best food, friendliest employees, best shows, best landscaping, etc. or at least be somewhere near the top of such lists?
As for Knoebels, I think a lot of the affection for the park comes from its distinctly unique spirit and genuine charm. Knoebels isn't a polished chain park by any stretch of the imagination and that's perhaps precisely why it is so loved. The recent historic flooding and truly remarkable quick recovery of the park has only added to the "street cred" of Knoebels as someplace special.
More specifically Knoebels probably wins in the food category for having a surprisingly strong selection of traditional park food at jaw-droppingly low prices. While it can't hold a candle to the variety and quality of somewhere like Epcot, Knoebels is perhaps better food-wise than most major chain theme parks. Again, you wouldn't expect it to look at the place but somehow they make it happen.
As for the top coasters lists, these are going to vary significantly between individuals and should only be used as a guide for which coasters are worth traveling to ride. The polling system is also not that great, as a ride with a hundred #10 votes would beat one with 9 #1 votes, even if those nine people are the only ones that voted for both coasters. For coasters, the Mitch Hawker poll is the typically the most accurate, although my personal rankings often vary a bit.
Most of the other Golden Ticket categories are fairly accurate or are relatively unimportant so I don't pay much attention to them. However, as a lot of it is subjective, everyone will have their own opinions. I can, however, say that a few of them could be split to make the voting more fair (best traditional park food and best food in general instead of one food category, separate funhouses and haunted houses into their own categories, etc.)
As for why Six Flags doesn't show up, I've been to 7 Six Flags parks and most of them aren't really that great. Sure, Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Great Adventure have some awesome coasters, but what else do they have? Not much. How does the most well-balanced Six Flags park I've been to (Six Flags St. Louis) fare in the coaster department? Not too well, at least compared to many others in the chain. With the possible exceptions of Six Flags New England (which is well balanced even though there are only two good coasters), none of the Six Flags parks are deserving of any awards, except the coaster ones. That is one thing Cedar Fair parks are able to do well...remain balanced. They are better as overall parks, even though many of them have only one or two above-average coasters in their line-up.
As for Six Flags, I have been to three SF parks in the last two years. Of those, Six Flags Saint Louis is largely a pit, the worst Six Flags park I have visited. Six Flags New England and Six Flags Over Texas are both decent parks, and I would argue that Over Texas is every bit as good as Cedar Point, especially with the revamping of the New Texas Giant - which I agree with Amusement Today is probably the best new coaster of the year, and quite a ground breaking achievement (although, I have not ridden Cheetah Hunt yet).
Cedar Point is a fine old park, and it has some very unique and pretty views, and a handful of high quality coasters. But their additions in the last few years have been disappointing to say the least, and next year does not look any better. Other than the unique location, CP is almost interchangeable with any of the better parks in the Cedar Fair chain and becoming more so with every passing season. Furthermore, as a theme park vacation destination for me and mine, it would barely crack the top fifteen. But hey, if all you like is steel and iron, Cedar Point is your Magic Kingdom. Each to their own.
Why? 1) Your ratings determine them, and 2) You're smart people with great taste. :^)
On food, I agree they should be two categories: best traditional park food and best theme park dining. Knoebels could win the former and Epcot or Tokyo Disney could win the latter.
One more comment I want to make on this poll, it claims to be international but is very US centric. Otherwise Tokyo Disney Sea would win best park in the world. Although I haven't been to Tokyo Disney Sea (yet), I am convinced from all the reviews, pictures, and trip reports of the place that its the best. Journey to the Center of the Earth at TDS is clearly one of the best dark rides in the world, yet doesn't even crack the top 5 in these awards.
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney California Adventure
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios Hollywood