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Hey everyone!

 

Here we go again! The 2018 Golden Ticket awards winners. Check out the press release here for full results.

 

The highlights:

 

Best Amusement Park – Europa Park

Best Water Park – Schlitterbahn New Braunfels

Best Children’s Park – Idlewild & SoakZone

Best Marine Life Park – SeaWorld Orlando

Best Seaside Park – Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Best Kids’ Area – Planet Snoopy, Kings Island

Friendliest Park – Dollywood

Cleanest Park – Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

Best Halloween Event – Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando

Best Landscaping – Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Best Christmas Event – Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dollywood

Best Food – Knoebels Amusement Resort

Best Shows – Dollywood

Best Water Ride – Valhalla, Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Best Water Park Ride – Wildebeest, Splashin’ Safari

Best Dark Ride – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Best New Ride of 2018 – Amusement Park – Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point

Best New Ride of 2018 – Water Park – Ray Rush, Aquatica Orlando

Best Carousel – Grand Carousel, Knoebels Amusement Resort

Best Indoor Roller Coaster – Revenge of the Mummy, Universal Studios Orlando

Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction – Noah’s Ark, Kennywood

 

And the top ten coasters per category -

 

Steel:

1. Fury 325, Carowinds

2. Millennium Force, Cedar Point

3. Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point

4. Expedition GeForce, Holiday Park

5. Superman The Ride, Six Flags New England

6. Apollo's Chariot, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

7. Iron Rattler, Six Flags Fiesta Texas

8. Leviathan, Canada's Wonderland

9. Maverick, Cedar Point

10. Diamondback, Kings Island

 

Wooden:

1. Phoenix, Knoebels Amusement Resort

2. El Toro, Six Flags Great Adventure

3. Voyage, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

4. Boulder Dash, Lake Compounce

5. Beast, Kings Island

6. Lightning Rod, Dollywood

7. Outlaw Run, Silver Dollar City

8. Ravine Flyer II, Waldameer Water World

9. Gold Striker, California's Great America

10. Thunderhead, Dollywood

 

And, finally, the usual tidbits / stray thoughts -

 

  • Only one award changed hands this year - best food. Knoebels edged out over Dollywood this year. Every other award with the exception for new rides was given to the same recipient that got it in 2017.
  • The top ten wooden coasters really only shuffled around. No new additions or removals.
  • Apollo's Chariot jumped up to sixth place having not been in the top ten last year. It replaced another B&M mega coaster, Nitro, in the top ten. Nitro was ranked at #11 this go around.
  • Rocky Mountain's I-Box coasters were all over the place. New Texas Giant #23, Twisted Colossus #24, Wicked Cyclone #33, Twisted Timbers #38, Storm Chaser #47. No Medusa, and no Twisted Cyclone.
  • Speaking of Twisted Cyclone, it wasn't even in contention for the best new ride category. Steel Vengeance and Time Traveler gobbled up all the votes, leaving Twisted Timbers, Wicker Man and Oscar's Wacky Taxi filling up the spots.
  • Back to Wicked Cyclone, it dropped from #14 in 2017 to #33 this year!
  • In the best new water ride category, Breaker's Edge was breathing down Ray Rush's neck. The Wiegand Slide wheel placed #4 in that category!
  • Morgan's Wonderland, a theme park designed for children with disabilities, was beaten out by longtime winner IdleWild for best children's park.
  • While Steel Vengeance and Time Traveler were in a near dead-heat for best new attraction, as coasters, they ranked pretty far apart. Steel Vengeance #3 and Time Traveler #18.

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I wish they did the GTA voting more like the Mitch Hawker Poll, where relative scores are factored in. I think there should be an initial nomination stage for most categories, with a minimum threshold to be in contention. Then voters should rank contenders for each category, with the caveat that they have to have experienced that park/ride/attraction within the last 5 years (this year for new attractions), unless a major change has occurred in which case they would have needed to experience it since that change. Then w/ the relative scoring where you're looking at head-to-head comparisons to determine the rankings, that would hopefully start making this poll a little more well-rounded.

 

It also probably wouldn't hurt to clean up some of the categories a bit. There's no reason Knoebels Haunted Mansion should be in the same category as the Harry Potter rides. And it's okay to admit that most of the categories are really just US categories since most voters haven't done extensive overseas travel.

 

It's pretty ridiculous to have the same things winning every category year after year. I fundamentally don't understand how or why KI has had the best kids area for the last 18!?! years (except that enthusiasts know it's there because they have to walk through it on the way to Diamondback, but that only explains the last 10 years). Nothing against it, but it never really stood out as being anything particularly notable or special.

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The Golden Ticket Awards as an event and production overall are great! So much great food, adult beverages, and some coasters around.

 

The award winners and rankings are cute and self-gratifying for those slower to accept there is a larger world outside of nice little collection of parks/attractions always getting the same recognition each year.

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I would give my same breakdown and rant as I've given in the past about why I feel these awards are so dated and so not relevant in any way, but I won't. I just wish that "Amusement" today would at least either acknowledge that they are giving awards to only "amusement" parks and remove any of the awards they are giving to "theme" parks or at least split the categories of "Best Amusement Park ......" and "Best Theme Park ...." because Disney SHOULD be winning in almost all of those categories but they seem to ignore the fact that Disney is around, other than in the "dark ride" category and the one ride they chose isn't even really a "dark ride" to begin with.

 

I have heard from so many people I know in the industry that the main reason why they go is for the party and the social atmosphere that happens outside of the awards, but they feel the awards themselves are stupid. And to be honest, they don't have to be. They could actually be legitimate, respectable awards, and I actually think it would probably be the same amount of work to produce a respectable list as it is to produce this, but for whatever reason they just don't want to.

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I used to be on the list to vote in this poll, but they dropped me years ago, for which I have no regrets--the Golden Tickets are just dumb.

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This list is always good for a laugh.

 

Are these the kind of people who have some personal issue with certain parks and manufacturers (see: Disney) or do they just not vote for obvious choices like Disney and RMC unless they absolutely have to because they want to be contrarian on purpose to show how refined and special their tastes are?

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^^It's a very *select* group. And by select, I mean friends of friends who all have the exact same opinion and are all ACEers. Robb and I used to get ballots, then were told we wouldn't get them anymore because our votes were not in line with what they expect!

 

Maybe we'll just expand the TPR Coaster Poll to include other rides, parks, water parks, water rides, etc. You know, have REAL votes from people all over the world that don't just suck up to certain PR people!

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Scratching my head at how Twisted Timbers couldn't beat the likes of Verbolten - which somehow made it onto the list after failing to place 2015-2017.

 

No need to scratch your head - ACE held their big annual convention at SFA/KD/BGW this year. If you look rides at all three parks ranked much higher this year than in past years. Also have to assume that the big ACE event at Silver Dollar City in the spring likely helped Time Traveler get the bump up to almost take over SV as best new ride. Every year it is same story - wherever the big ACE event is those rides rank differently, which would tell me they need to change up their pool of voters.

 

I just want to know who was the 5% that voted Wacky Taxi as best new ride. It wasn't like the top roller coasters where you rank your type 5 new rides for the year (in that case I could see some people having it in top 5 perhaps), the option literally was pick best new ride and 5% selected Wacky Taxi. Sure it is a great ride but c'mon.

 

I did see a PA local news story about Phoenix winning best wood coaster and dared to read the comments. Most of the comments were people going "wait, how?" "that ride won? it isn't the best". The results didn't even pass the sniff test of the "general public" readers of the local paper.

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Scratching my head at how Twisted Timbers couldn't beat the likes of Verbolten - which somehow made it onto the list after failing to place 2015-2017.

 

No need to scratch your head - ACE held their big annual convention at SFA/KD/BGW this year. If you look rides at all three parks ranked much higher this year than in past years. Also have to assume that the big ACE event at Silver Dollar City in the spring likely helped Time Traveler get the bump up to almost take over SV as best new ride. Every year it is same story - wherever the big ACE event is those rides rank differently, which would tell me they need to change up their pool of voters.

Ah. That explains Verbolten showing up - but not it beating Twisted Timbers. On the plus side, nice to see SFA see some love with Wild One and Superman.

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^^It's a very *select* group. And by select, I mean friends of friends who all have the exact same opinion and are all ACEers. Robb and I used to get ballots, then were told we wouldn't get them anymore because our votes were not in line with what they expect!

 

Maybe we'll just expand the TPR Coaster Poll to include other rides, parks, water parks, water rides, etc. You know, have REAL votes from people all over the world that don't just suck up to certain PR people!

 

I’ve always heard that they vote the parks that do the most for ACE events. Which I’m sure is not far off. I do like the idea of one day adding to the TPR Poll.

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What, no love for Hangtime? I mean, I don't consider it the best new ride of 2018, but I definitely didn't expect it to get beaten by Oscar's Wacky Taxi.

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Maybe we'll just expand the TPR Coaster Poll to include other rides, parks, water parks, water rides, etc. You know, have REAL votes from people all over the world that don't just suck up to certain PR people!

 

Please, do it! That would be fantastic!! Then we can finally have actual and accurate "award" winners, that doesn't only include parks and rides in America and are chosen purely by "popularity". I know, I know, there are a few European park's included, but still.. I mean, where the heck is Hyperion, Wicker Man, Fenix, Icon, etc in the list for best new ride? Same thing with the top 10's.. It's not just Europe, but also parks and rides in Asia.

 

That are just a few things that doesn't seem right for me about the GTA's.

 

So yes, I am all in for the expansion of the TPR Coaster Poll!

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Maybe we'll just expand the TPR Coaster Poll to include other rides, parks, water parks, water rides, etc. You know, have REAL votes from people all over the world that don't just suck up to certain PR people!

Let's be honest here, if we really wanted to, we could widely promote the TPR Poll and give the Golden Ticket Awards some serious competition. I mean, it's not like Amusement Today knows how to do social media and even get the word out about their awards beyond what the parks do.

 

I made a post about a cookie yesterday that got waaaay more engagement that most of the Amusement Today Golden Ticket posts on social media...

1054605332_ScreenShot2018-09-11at1_35_50PM.png.67752a6d4f49673df7870dfb373fe603.png

1110957271_ScreenShot2018-09-11at1_36_14PM.png.2bc06da6d20a5b608d7993e4d32bf784.png

(and the cookie post was even roller coaster related!)

 

The only reason why any of the Golden Ticket posts got any engagement at all is when the parks shared them. Otherwise, they seem to really not have much of an audience on social media. At some point they are going to need to learn "print is dead" and all of their stories are old news by the time the newspaper hits circulation.

Edited by robbalvey
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Maybe we'll just expand the TPR Coaster Poll to include other rides, parks, water parks, water rides, etc. You know, have REAL votes from people all over the world that don't just suck up to certain PR people!

 

 

All kidding aside, how awesome would it be if TPR had its own prestigious award in the amusement industry! Give a whole different facet to the review in ThemeParkReview!

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The snag that often comes with theme park awards is that theme parks don't really change very much over the years, relatively speaking. I feel like there should be less "best ________" awards and more "best new _______" awards. You'd get a much more diverse pool of winners each year, and the awards would probably be more meaningful that way. Opinion, obviously.

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To overwhelmingly vote Schlitterbahn as best water park again is to willfully ignore the huge elephant in the room, whether it's truly the best park or not. This just screams, "Thanks for SchlitterCon! Friends forever, ACE." I know that it's the New Braunfels, Texas park that won and not Kansas City, but ERT and pool parties don't change the fact that Jeff Henry somehow still co-owns it all. His second-degree murder trial is set for this month, and he remains dramatically unqualified to own and operate safe water parks.

 

Put aside the Kansas City park and grim indictment, and you still have troubling facts like these:

 

"Schlitterbahn and its other companies have been sued 25 times in Comal County [Texas] since 1985, mostly over injuries suffered by water park patrons, which generated claims of negligence in the design of rides and training and supervision of its employees."

 

"...the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration slammed the company with six safety violations in August 2013. The agency claimed the company “tragically exposed its workers to unnecessary risks.”

 

"Since Feb. 1 2013, Schlitterbahn has reported 71 ride-related injuries at its parks in New Braunfels, South Padre Island and Galveston Island, state insurance records indicate." link

 

Even if the park is truly exceptional, Henry's reputation casts a Papa John shadow over it.

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All kidding aside, how awesome would it be if TPR had its own prestigious award in the amusement industry! Give a whole different facet to the review in ThemeParkReview!

The Golden Locker Award

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