The monthly periodical Amusement Today, featuring news, reviews and articles about the amusement park industry, gives out a set of annual amusement park awards called the Golden Ticket Awards, the first being awarded in 1998.
The awards are based on surveys from a panel of experienced park enthusiasts throughout the world who vote on 25 different categories, though there tends to be an emphasis towards North America even though the panels are split geographically.
Now in its seventeenth year, the Golden Ticket award for Best Amusement Park went to Europa-Park in Rust, Germany for the first time. Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio came second.
Cedar Point has won every year since the awards were first introduced but the gap with Europa-Park in Rust, Germany closed to just one percentage point last year but this year, Europa-Park took 25% of the vote with Cedar Point at 16%.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure moved up one place to sixth place with Magic Kingdom in seventh place.
Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas also continues to be voted Best Water Park with Aquatica dropping out of the top five (third place in 2013) with Blizzard Beach in fourth place and Typhoon Lagoon fifth.
Top Florida Rankings
Highlights for 2014 as far as Florida is concerned are:
- Best marine life park - SeaWorld Orlando
- Best dark ride - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Best water ride - Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
- Best indoor coaster - Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios
- Best halloween event - Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
- Best outdoor night show production - IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot
This reflects no change from 2013 or 2012.
The SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams at all three SeaWorld parks also picked up the Publisher’s Persons of the Year Award for “their tireless dedication to animal welfare and ongoing commitment to the education, conservation and rehabilitation of animal life.” The team has rescued in excess of 23,000 animals.
George Millay who co-founded SeaWorld and then Wet ’n Wild was posthumously awarded the Legend Series Award for his contribution to the theme park industry.
Again, Universal continues to outpace Walt Disney World when it comes to the Golden Ticket Awards.
Other Florida Theme Park Rankings
Legoland Florida has dropped back one place in the Best Children’s Park category, being ranked fourth this year after being placed third last year.
SeaWorld Orlando took top spot for Best Marine Life Park with SeaWorld San Diego second. Discovery Cove and SeaWorld San Antonio swapped places, being ranked third and fourth respectively this year.
Universal’s Islands of Adventure again made the top five for Best Kids’ Area. It also took both first and fourth places in the Best Dark Ride category with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man respectively.
Disney’s Magic Kingdom picked up seventh place in the Best Park category and fourth for Best Christmas Event.
Epcot again took first place for Best Outdoor Show Production and ranked third for Best Food and fifth for Landscaping.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios ranked second in Best Dark Ride with Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (third last year) and fifth for Best Outdoor Show Production (fourth last year).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has dropped out of the Top 50 Steel Coasters with Expedition Everest which was placed at 42 last year. Busch Gardens Tampa again missed out on the main awards though their four of their coasters made the top 50 with Montu at number 22 (down from 18 last year), Kumba at 36 (down from 27), SheiKra at 38 (down from 32) and Cheetah Hunt appearing at 48.
Manta at SeaWorld crept back into the top 50 at 41 (it was ranked 34 in 2012 but unplaced in 2013) but Dragon Challenge (previously 35 in 2012 ) and the Incredible Hulk Coaster (down from 47), both at Universal’s Islands of Adventure failed to make the cut.
Fun Spot America’s White Lightning was ranked 38 in the Top 50 Wooden Roller Coasters for the first time .
As in 2012 and 2013, overall Florida winner is again Universal Orlando with a number of top spots. It will be interesting to see what 2015 brings as Universal continues to invest more money into their two parks including the second Harry Potter expansion, Diagon Alley.
Best New Ride for 2013 (Waterpark) went to River Rush at Dollywood’s Splash Country with Best New Attraction (Amusement Park), the Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City. Both were clear winners taking 53% and 45% respectively.
Transformers the Ride at Universal Studios Orlando took fifth place for best new attraction.
John Arie, Sr. was one of two people awarded with the Publisher’s Pick “Person of the Year” award for his contribution to affordable family fun through the two Fun Spot attractions in Orlando.
Best New Ride for 2012 went to the wing coaster, Wild Eagle at Dollywood with Radiator Springs Races in the new Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in second place.
The new Cars Land also earned Disney California Adventure the Publisher’s Pick for 2012 Park of the Year.
More details of all the winners can be found at Golden Ticket Awards.