It’s been called “the Academy Awards of the amusement industry,” and in a show full of “red carpet” pageantry and excitement, the winners of Amusement Today’s 2016 Golden Ticket Awards were revealed tonight at this year’s host park, Cedar Point, the legendary amusement park and resort along the shores of Lake Erie.
The Golden Ticket Awards are presented annually to honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today. The prestigious survey asks experienced amusement park voters around the country and world to rate the “bests” in 23 categories.
Always revealing some surprises, this year’s poll did not disappoint. In the category of “Best Seaside Park,” perennial favorite Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, Calif., re-gained its title after being edged out last year, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando narrowly displaced Universal’s Islands of Adventure’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, also in Orlando, as “Best Dark Ride.” Finally, fan-favorite Millennium Force at Cedar Point was out-voted for “Best Steel Coaster” by a single ballot by Fury 325 at one of its sister Cedar Fair parks, Carowinds, in Charlotte, N.C.
The list of 2016 winners are:
Best Amusement Park- Europa-ParkRust, Germany
Best Water Park - Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park- Idlewild, Ligonier, PA
Best Marine Life Park - SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster - Boulder Dash, Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn.
Best Steel Coaster - Fury 325, Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
Best Kids’ Area- Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Friendliest Park- Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Cleanest Park- Holiday World & Splashing’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Halloween Event- Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios Orlando, Fla.
Best Landscaping- Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event- Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Food- Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Shows- Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Water Ride- Valhalla, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, England
Best Water Park Ride- Wildebeest, Splashing’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Dark Ride- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Attraction of 2016 — Amusement Park - Lightning Rod, Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best New Attraction of 2016 — Water Park- Massiv, Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Texas
Best Carousel - Grand Carousel, Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg. Pa.
Best Indoor Roller Coaster - Revenge of the Mummy, Universal Studios Orlando, Fla.
Best Funhouse/Walkthrough Attraction - Noah’s Ark, Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.
Personally chosen by Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, this year’s Publisher’s Pick Awards were presented in the following categories: