BRISTOL, Conn. – And the Golden Ticket Award goes to … In an awards show tonight hosted by Lake Compounce – the oldest operating amusement park in the United States – the winners of Amusement Today’s 2017 Golden Ticket Awards were revealed in grand style.
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.
While the poll indicates consistency in fan favorites, each year there are some twists. In the category of “Best Wooden Roller Coaster,” Lake Compounce’s popular Boulder Dash was edged out this year by El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. There is an annual “food fight” in the category of “Best Food” between Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Dollywood re-gained this title for 2017. The “Best New Ride of 2017” for amusement parks and water parks are always fun categories to watch with Kings Island in Kings Mills, Ohio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, taking top honors for their new rides this year.
The list of 2017 winners are:
Best Amusement Park – Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Best Water Park – Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park – Idlewild & SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
Best Marine Life Park – SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park – Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster – El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
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 & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Halloween Event – Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Landscaping – Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event – Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Food – Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Shows – Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Water Ride – Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Best Water Park Ride – Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Dark Ride – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Ride of 2017 – Amusement Park – Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Best New Ride of 2017 – Water Park – Thunder Rapids at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, Texas
Best Carousel – Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Indoor Roller Coaster – Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction – Noah’s Ark at 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:
• Supplier of the Year – Intamin in Wollerau, Switzerland, for its success story of creating a diverse catalog of products and hundreds of rides in all parts of the world spanning the last 50 years;
• Park of the Year – Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, for its ongoing mission to provide a safe, clean and beautiful environment free of physical and economic barriers; and
• Person of the Year – Jerry Brick of Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., for his passion and commitment to providing a quality, thrilling and safe amusement park that caters to the New England family audience.
In addition, the AIMS International Safety Award was present to Har Kupers of Vekoma.
For the 13th consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by the host park of Lake Compounce, and nearby park Quassy Amusement Park, as Miss and Mr. Golden Tickets. These individuals exemplify the spirit and integrity of the amusement industry by promoting the cornerstones of safety, service, courtesy and cleanliness at the highest level, while consistently exceeding job expectations. This is an annual designation by Amusement Today to promote education in the field of hospitality and amusement.
Amusement Today newspaper was founded in 1997 and covers international amusement and water park news and trends. In its 20-year history, it is a five-time winner of various awards from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
The complete 2017 Golden Ticket results can be viewed here.