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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.

Oh, make no mistake about it, Amusement Today and the Golden Tickets have IMO some seriously shady business going on there. The fact that they have some weird connections with ACE, who absoultely DO NOT represent your average theme park guest in any way at all, and then also seem to play favorites to certain companies that either support Amusement Today with advertising dollars or other benefits, just shows how broken that whole system and organization is. As someone already pointed out, the parks that either have just completed a recent ACE convention or the parks that host or have recently hosted the Golden Tickets always seem to get extra "pats on the back" when it comes to the winners or their placement in the top rankings.

 

This is not a legit awards by any stretch of the imagination and should not be taken seriously by anyone. It's just a shame that these have become the face of the industry as far as any awards go, mainly due to lack of anyone else willing to step in. We really should consider changing that and show the world how it should be done. Maybe that will also expose some of the shady practices going on here as well... Hmmm....

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We really should consider changing that and show the world how it should be done. Maybe that will also expose some of the shady practices going on here as well... Hmmm....

 

If you want to expose the controversy behind it all, you should do a series with Shane Dawson. He does a lot of conspiracy stuff on youtube, and reveals the backgrounds behind things. I'm sure with your social media presences combined (his most recent 5 part series on JefreeStar received 87M views so far.) Plus you could bring in more advertising for the website that way, and promote your own award.

 

Or just do a form of what he does, and create a series to shake things up. People love a good scandal story. #justsaying

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Oh, make no mistake about it, Amusement Today and the Golden Tickets have IMO some seriously shady business going on there. The fact that they have some weird connections with ACE, who absolutely DO NOT represent your average theme park guest in any way at all, and then also seem to play favorites to certain companies that either support Amusement Today with advertising dollars or other benefits, just shows how broken that whole system and organization is.

 

Bingo. The fact they accept advertising dollars from those up for awards says it all. The parks know they won before hand because they get a phone call or email or whatever asking to pay money to run an ad with their award. And I think that is why Knoebels always wins a few things - because they know they can call up Dick and he'll buy an ad and will show up to the awards show. Instead of if Epcot won best food (as it probably should), Disney isn't likely going to send a rep and won't buy an ad (fun fact: Disney is the only park that won an award, Tower of Terror, and didn't buy ad space...) and they certainly aren't going to post over social or issue a press release about it.

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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!

 

LMAO! I was waiting for someone to post that!

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Bingo. The fact they accept advertising dollars from those up for awards says it all. The parks know they won before hand because they get a phone call or email or whatever asking to pay money to run an ad with their award. And I think that is why Knoebels always wins a few things - because they know they can call up Dick and he'll buy an ad and will show up to the awards show. Instead of if Epcot won best food (as it probably should), Disney isn't likely going to send a rep and won't buy an ad (fun fact: Disney is the only park that won an award, Tower of Terror, and didn't buy ad space...) and they certainly aren't going to post over social or issue a press release about it.

That is EXACTLY it! While I agree that Knoebels does have the best "amusement park food" if you are singling out just one park, you have to give it to Epcot. There is simply NO QUESTION. Even just with some of their World Showcase restaurants: Le Cellier Steakhouse, Monsieur Paul, Tutto Italia, Via Napoli, Teppan Edo, Spice Road Table, and not even mentioning some of the festivals throughout the year: Food & Wine, Flower & Garden, etc, there is simply no contest and anyone who would say differently I would seriously have to question if they know what food actually is.

 

This is why there should be two categories. One for "amusement park" food and one for "theme park" food. But they aren't going do that because:

 

1. Golden Tickets are stupid.

2. Disney isn't going to give the Golden Tikcets any more attention so why do the extra work to give Disney more attention?

3. There are probably quite a lot of people who vote that just aren't sophisticated enough or probably can even afford to go and dine Epcot. (Trust me, I've seen some of the people who they have voting in that poll, it's frightening!) Just being honest, but I highly doubt that most of the voters for the Golden Tickets are going to spring for a meal at Le Cellier or Monsieur Paul but will most certainly buy a cheese on a stick at Knoebels. And besides, Epcot doesn't even have a roller coaster and I cannot tell you how many ACE members I've heard say "I'm not going to that park because it doesn't have a coaster." #dumb

 

And there is nothing wrong with the cheese on a stick at Knoebels, I love it myself and I would vote for it in a heartbeat in the best amusement park category, but you simply cannot compare it, and it would actually be unfair to compare it to the Epcot offerings because Epcot should win every time.

 

But for some reason the Golden Tickets won't really acknowledge Disney and I can probably give you one guess as to why....

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Edited by robbalvey
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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.

 

Same here, I think I missed voting 3 or 4 years ago and was not sent a ballot the following year. I used to write in selections for more than half the categories.

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Why couldn't they restructure it by the type of park. Have different categories Major Theme Parks (Disney, Universal, Sea World/Busch Gardens, Cedar Point, Magic Mountain, Silver Dollar City; Then next break it down too Medium, Small Independent theme-parks; and finally have one for just the Amusement Parks. It would give more opportunity for more parks to win awards. Not the same parks each and every year winning the awards. When they have the award ceremony to present the awards take the top 5 categories for each group. for example 5 for the Major Parks; 5 for the Medium/Independent parks; 5 for the Amusement Parks. Those are the ones that will be awarded during the event. The rest of the awards in each group will later be awarded to the park after the event. Then publish a list of the winners after the event or the next day.

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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.

 

Same here, I think I missed voting 3 or 4 years ago and was not sent a ballot the following year. I used to write in selections for more than half the categories.

 

Attending certain ACE events pretty much gets you added to the list.

 

 

Oh, make no mistake about it, Amusement Today and the Golden Tickets have IMO some seriously shady business going on there. The fact that they have some weird connections with ACE, who absoultely DO NOT represent your average theme park guest in any way at all, and then also seem to play favorites to certain companies that either support Amusement Today with advertising dollars or other benefits, just shows how broken that whole system and organization is. As someone already pointed out, the parks that either have just completed a recent ACE convention or the parks that host or have recently hosted the Golden Tickets always seem to get extra "pats on the back" when it comes to the winners or their placement in the top rankings.

 

This is not a legit awards by any stretch of the imagination and should not be taken seriously by anyone. It's just a shame that these have become the face of the industry as far as any awards go, mainly due to lack of anyone else willing to step in. We really should consider changing that and show the world how it should be done. Maybe that will also expose some of the shady practices going on here as well... Hmmm....

 

ACE's Communications Director & Association Manager are both Amusement Today Editors. They also are the ones responsible for ACE's RollerCoaster! publication, and one of them is involved in the sending out of Golden Ticket ballots.

 

Two of the other Amusement Today Contributors are listed in ACE's org chart (one is on the history committee, another is an assistant regional rep).

 

 

Here are their published ad rates: https://i1.wp.com/amusementtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2018-PrintAd-Rates.jpg

 

This obviously doesn't include whatever Mack, RMC, and S&S paid to sponsor the award ceremony event (which I'm sure in no way influenced the "Best Park", "Best New Ride for 2018", or "Best New Ride for 2019" voting). [My conspiracy theory is that the TT vote was "close" to SV to throw SDC and Mack a bone without actually giving them the victory, and that S&S's sponsorship this year is to grease the way for Maxx Force or Steel Curtain to win next year's Best New Ride award, but that may just be a conspiracy theory.]

 

I would love so much for someone to do a full audit of ACE's finances. It wouldn't shock me one bit if there's a bunch of funny business going on. I mean, they're about to do a trip to Japan with over 150 people, at over $3k per person. That's a *half million dollars* of money flowing through 'nonprofit' 'volunteer' hands. I'd be shocked if all of those dollars were properly accounted for with the way they run their organization.

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I mean, they're about to do a trip to Japan with over 150 people, at over $3k per person. That's a *half million dollars* of money flowing through 'nonprofit' 'volunteer' hands. I'd be shocked if all of those dollars were properly accounted for with the way they run their organization.

Well, to be fair, I for one know how much it costs to do a Japan trip and we usually charge over $3k per person...

 

But our trip also includes on property stays at higher end hotels at places like Disney and Universal. Express passes at all the parks that provide them. Quite a few meals included. All internal transportation (usually a Japanese Rail Pass or internal flights if needed). And as much ERT as the parks will allow us to purchase. Oh, and our prices are usually that much because our Japan trips are usually about 14-17 days and we are only amortizing costs across about 35-40 people because we aren't stupid enough to do a trip to Japan with 150 people.

 

Does ACE provide that same level of accommodations and perks for a similar length of time, because if not, that's an expensive trip and it would be really interesting to see where that money is going.

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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.

 

Same here, I think I missed voting 3 or 4 years ago and was not sent a ballot the following year. I used to write in selections for more than half the categories.

 

Yep--I used to write in a bunch of selections, too.

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I would say the Golden Ticket Awards are good for the "new" enthusiast. When I first got into coasters about ten years ago, I used their awards like a checklist. But as time has gone by and have experienced all these parks for myself, I can see that the GTA's are a joke. But at one time...They were very helpful. I'll give them that credit...But that's about it.

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I mean, they're about to do a trip to Japan with over 150 people, at over $3k per person. That's a *half million dollars* of money flowing through 'nonprofit' 'volunteer' hands. I'd be shocked if all of those dollars were properly accounted for with the way they run their organization.

Well, to be fair, I for one know how much it costs to do a Japan trip and we usually charge over $3k per person...

 

But our trip also includes on property stays at higher end hotels at places like Disney and Universal. Express passes at all the parks that provide them. Quite a few meals included. All internal transportation (usually a Japanese Rail Pass or internal flights if needed). And as much ERT as the parks will allow us to purchase. Oh, and our prices are usually that much because our Japan trips are usually about 14-17 days and we are only amortizing costs across about 35-40 people because we aren't stupid enough to do a trip to Japan with 150 people.

 

Does ACE provide that same level of accommodations and perks for a similar length of time, because if not, that's an expensive trip and it would be really interesting to see where that money is going.

 

According to their FB event page, it's 17 parks in 11 days. They're only doing ERT at 3 parks (none of the major ones), are staying at 3 $200-300/night hotels (2 Hiltons and one really nice one in Tokyo), none of which are connected to any parks (or are even close to any parks). They're using 5 or 6 coaches to bus everyone around, except on the days at Disney & Universal people have to find their own way back to the hotel via public transport. The only meals being included are breakfasts at the hotels. The only express passes being included are the 7-skip passes at Universal. There are no non-amusement park tourist attractions/stops/time planned. Since the hotels are so far away from the parks, either they're all going to have to be getting up at an ungodly early hour or not being at the parks by opening (much less an hour or more early like you really need to do for Disney). Oh, and the organizers just discovered 2 weeks ago that one of the parks they had planned to visit is under construction and its coaster is closed, and another park wasn't even scheduled to be open on the day they had planned for it, so they had to rearrange their schedule. They still haven't released the full trip itinerary, and it starts in a week and a half.

 

I know a guy who is going, and he is piiiiiiisssed. They didn't find out the trip only included the above till like 2 weeks ago, long after they had everybody's money and refused to refund any of it. Oh, and the price was actually only $3400 for double-occupancy rooms. Single-occupancy was over $4600

 

I told him for that amount of money, (even on 4 weeks notice) he could have done everything they're planning to do but better, AND bought a $1000 2-day/3-night Disney vacation package w/ tons of FP's (that's really for 2 people) and still probably spent less. SMH

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^That's always been the problem with those ACE trips. They have people planning them that have no business planning! Some organizing ACE people used to actually ask us to quietly help them (i.e. they weren't allowed to tell ACE they had asked the Alvey's for assistance!).

 

They are IDIOTS for doing that trip on buses. I said it and I stand by it. They're probably just scared to do the research and understand how to do the trains.

 

Any of you interested in Japan should either use our guide, or go with us! We do Japan right!

 

Oh, and that cost is high because they usually send the entire ACE Executive committee for free!

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Not to pile on more but I did an ACE trip recently and the whole time I kept thinking back to the TPR trip I did. We didn't find out the schedule until we checked in at the hotel on day 1, ERT was a hot mess (sure there is a language piece but still) in the sense the park thought we wanted it on the SLC. They had that up and running but not the RMC (which was marketed as big part of the trip). Then the one park on the trip they revealed to us on the bus they could never get a hold of and there was a chance it was closed. They almost didn't go to it but enough of us were like "we have nothing better to do the rest of the day can we at least try?" It was open go figure. The one day they had local sightseeing scheduled, the trip planners decided they had to do some errands such as drop off paperwork for the next day's park so instead of seeing the places we were suppose to the buses were stuck in traffic going to the park we were going to the next day but just to drop off paperwork. The three buses and 100+ people had to give up seeing the biggest sights in the city because one person had to drop off paperwork.

 

To me the biggest difference was how nimble TPR trips were. You guys are clearly travel experts who know if X happens we can do Y and Z. Where is every road bump we hit on the trip they had no idea what do, whereas on the TPR when something happened you guys already had a backup plan or ideas ready. Like when GeForce broke during ERT, unplanned exclusive beer time started minutes later.

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Not to pile on more but I did an ACE trip recently and the whole time I kept thinking back to the TPR trip I did. We didn't find out the schedule until we checked in at the hotel on day 1, ERT was a hot mess (sure there is a language piece but still) in the sense the park thought we wanted it on the SLC. They had that up and running but not the RMC (which was marketed as big part of the trip). Then the one park on the trip they revealed to us on the bus they could never get a hold of and there was a chance it was closed. They almost didn't go to it but enough of us were like "we have nothing better to do the rest of the day can we at least try?" It was open go figure. The one day they had local sightseeing scheduled, the trip planners decided they had to do some errands such as drop off paperwork for the next day's park so instead of seeing the places we were suppose to the buses were stuck in traffic going to the park we were going to the next day but just to drop off paperwork. The three buses and 100+ people had to give up seeing the biggest sights in the city because one person had to drop off paperwork.

 

To me the biggest difference was how nimble TPR trips were. You guys are clearly travel experts who know if X happens we can do Y and Z. Where is every road bump we hit on the trip they had no idea what do, whereas on the TPR when something happened you guys already had a backup plan or ideas ready. Like when GeForce broke during ERT, unplanned exclusive beer time started minutes later.

 

Did I mention this Japan trip is in the middle of typhoon season and they have zero contingency plans for rain?

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Not to pile on more but I did an ACE trip recently and the whole time I kept thinking back to the TPR trip I did. We didn't find out the schedule until we checked in at the hotel on day 1, ERT was a hot mess (sure there is a language piece but still) in the sense the park thought we wanted it on the SLC. They had that up and running but not the RMC (which was marketed as big part of the trip). Then the one park on the trip they revealed to us on the bus they could never get a hold of and there was a chance it was closed. They almost didn't go to it but enough of us were like "we have nothing better to do the rest of the day can we at least try?" It was open go figure. The one day they had local sightseeing scheduled, the trip planners decided they had to do some errands such as drop off paperwork for the next day's park so instead of seeing the places we were suppose to the buses were stuck in traffic going to the park we were going to the next day but just to drop off paperwork. The three buses and 100+ people had to give up seeing the biggest sights in the city because one person had to drop off paperwork.

 

To me the biggest difference was how nimble TPR trips were. You guys are clearly travel experts who know if X happens we can do Y and Z. Where is every road bump we hit on the trip they had no idea what do, whereas on the TPR when something happened you guys already had a backup plan or ideas ready. Like when GeForce broke during ERT, unplanned exclusive beer time started minutes later.

 

You should've been treated better. Your a celebrity.

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Oh, and that cost is high because they usually send the entire ACE Executive committee for free!

 

Shouldn't that be illegal somehow? Embezzlement or some other such nonsense?

Nope, that's totally legal. Unethical and wrong, but that's ACE for you. It's a completely shady "non profit" business filled with IMO absoultely shady people behind it. I have so many stories from over the years. All I can say is that I'm much happier with the way we do things and the best part of about ACE is that it gives a home to those horrible people we don't want on TPR. And they stick out like a sore thumb at our events. This weekend at WCB you could **EASILY** tell the people who were more "ACErs" than TPR members.

Edited by robbalvey
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Oh, and that cost is high because they usually send the entire ACE Executive committee for free!

 

Shouldn't that be illegal somehow? Embezzlement or some other such nonsense?

Nope, that's totally legal. Unethical and wrong, but that's ACE for you. It's a completely shady "non profit" business filled with IMO absoultely shady people behind it. I have so many stories from over the years. All I can say is that I'm much happier with the way we do things and the best part of about ACE is that it gives a home to those horrible people we don't want on TPR. And they stick out like a sore thumb at our events. This weekend at WCB you could **EASILY** tell the people who were more "ACErs" than TPR members.

 

Were they the ones incessantly bugging all the park employees and asking all kinds of obnoxious questions (and then getting mad when the answers weren't what they wanted)?

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Not to pile on more but I did an ACE trip recently and the whole time I kept thinking back to the TPR trip I did. We didn't find out the schedule until we checked in at the hotel on day 1, ERT was a hot mess (sure there is a language piece but still) in the sense the park thought we wanted it on the SLC. They had that up and running but not the RMC (which was marketed as big part of the trip). Then the one park on the trip they revealed to us on the bus they could never get a hold of and there was a chance it was closed. They almost didn't go to it but enough of us were like "we have nothing better to do the rest of the day can we at least try?" It was open go figure. The one day they had local sightseeing scheduled, the trip planners decided they had to do some errands such as drop off paperwork for the next day's park so instead of seeing the places we were suppose to the buses were stuck in traffic going to the park we were going to the next day but just to drop off paperwork. The three buses and 100+ people had to give up seeing the biggest sights in the city because one person had to drop off paperwork.

 

ACE has no business planning trips. They are horrible at it, they aren't qualified to do it, and the "tour" product they sell is the absolute WORST of anyone who does it. In fact the WHOLE REASON why we got into doing tours in the first place was after a few years of doing tours and events with ACE we kept thinking "OMG, this is so easy to do right, and how do the manage to fu*k it up so badly every time??!!"

 

So that's why we started doing it. Of course, part of the problem was that the word got out that we were actually able to do a decent job at putting together a tour (honestly, a box of partially deformed brainless chickens could do a better job planning events and tours than ACE) and we ended up with quite a few ACE members on our trips that started to impact the tours for everyone else because they were just such terrible humans in every way that they made it an unpleasant experience for the rest of the group. That's one of the reasons we do them privately now. I won't let a few bad apples (read: ACErs) ruin our trips for the decent people that appreciate the hard work that goes into them.

 

To me the biggest difference was how nimble TPR trips were. You guys are clearly travel experts

I'll be honest, we're not even "travel experts" we're just not idiots when it comes to planning and putting together a trip. It was honestly SHOCKING to me just how poorly planned and operated some of the events and tours we did with ACE were.

 

Every road bump we hit on the trip they had no idea what do, whereas on the TPR when something happened you guys already had a backup plan or ideas ready. Like when GeForce broke during ERT, unplanned exclusive beer time started minutes later.

You always have a plan B. Sometimes even a plan C. And the other difference between TPR and ACE is that we aren't afraid to spend extra money when we need to. ACE is such a greedy pathetic organization that if there is something that needs to have money thrown at it to resolve a problem, they won't do it, and sometimes you just have to. People are paying a very high price for these trips, and it is expected that you go out of your way to make things right. ACE has no concept on how that works. Probably out of their own greed or lack of know-how. Probably both.

 

In case you couldn't tell, I have very little respect for what ACE does... but I'm VERY thankful they are around!

Edited by robbalvey
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To me the biggest difference was how nimble TPR trips were. You guys are clearly travel experts

 

I'll be honest, we're not even "travel experts" we're just not idiots when it comes to planning and putting together a trip. It was honestly SHOCKING to me just how poorly planned and operated some of the events and tours we did with ACE were.

 

Honestly, I feel like a travel expert. I've been doing this my whole life and have had travel agents ask me to work for them. I know more than 99% of people that work in travel and travel planning! In addition to our group trips I have planned trips for friends and family to all over the world.

 

...and I would never do the Japan trip on a bus! Sure maybe like one or two parks, but it's just SUCH A BAD IDEA!!!!!

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...and I would never do the Japan trip on a bus! Sure maybe like one or two parks, but it's just SUCH A BAD IDEA!!!!!

Best part about 150+ ACERS on a bus trip in Japan?

 

WE'RE NOT THERE AND IT'S NOT OUR PROBLEM!!!!

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I've never participated in voting on one of these Golden Ticket awards, but honestly a park or ride winning one hasn't really influenced if we go to that park or not.

 

so "winning" or "losing" has never really factored in for me when we plan trips.

 

but I will say that if TPR does a poll, I'll absolutely participate in it. (I loved what Chase did with the Coaster Poll, and even tho I don't tend to rank, really enjoyed filling in my choices for that and look forward to continuing it).

 

 

as to coaster/theme park trips?

 

I can't imagine anyone would ever be able to compete with the level of Planning (and Back-up Planning), Professionalism, and Coordination that Elissa and Robb put into a TPR trip.

 

Not to mention the ease of following the directions given: show up on time, and don't be a jerk.

 

If a TPR trip were entered in a travel awards type of poll? I'd vote for them over any of the other group trips I've taken over the years. tho some of those (such as Arno's Bear Cruises) were good too. . .just TPR does the organizing, and dealing with unexpected issues way better!

 

So not a "Golden Ticket". .but hey, a "bert award" counts about as much, right?

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