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Frequently Asked Questions

How does Amusement Today choose the winners?

Amusement Today relies on a panel of voters from all over the world consisting of experienced park enthusiasts. The U.S. ballots are divided into four geographical regions, with approximately the same number of voters in each region. In addition to the American voters, Amusement Today invites a number of international voters to participate.

How can I become a voter?

Amusement Today is always looking for new voters, particularly those who live overseas. We prefer that our voters make numerous visits to amusement parks and water parks each year and have visited at least 40 different parks in their lifetime. A strong qualification is if voters have travelled and visited amusement parks overseas. If you think you qualify, feel free to contact us for consideration.

So how are the winners chosen?

Amusement Today asks its voters to submit one choice in each of the categories (except best coaster). The results are tallied and the park or attraction with the most votes is awarded the Golden Ticket for that category. For roller coasters, we ask that each voter submit a list of their top 10 coasters — wood and steel — in order from one to ten, taking into consideration the overall experience including capacity, operations, reliability and re-rideability.

Does the Amusement Today staff pick any winners?

The staff does not submit votes. However, there are three Publisher’s Pick awards that are chosen, with the assistance of the staff, by Gary Slade, the Publisher and Editor-in- Chief, namely: Park of the Year, Supplier of the Year, and Person of the Year. The Legend Series is a newer designation that acknowledges someone’ history in the amusement industry.

Why does it seem like the same parks win all the time?

Change happens gradually but it does happen. As new rides and attraction are built they eventually find their way to the top of the lists. A park that wins best food or best shows or the friendliest park or the cleanest for several years is unlikely to all of a sudden stop serving good food or producing good shows or let their park get dirty or unfriendly. It takes time for one park to overtake another, but several of awards have changed over the years.

Cedar Point for instance, had maintained a lock on best park since the Golden Tickets began and for good reason. It is a consistent favorite among enthusiasts; the park holds events specifically for enthusiasts and it has one of the world’s largest collections of roller coasters and rides. It has beautiful grounds, a scenic shore, and the coasters and rides are well maintained. But in 2014 Germany’s Europa-Park overtook Cedar Point for best park.

I went to ride one your top-chosen rides and it was closed. How can it be one of the best if it isn’t running?

The parks do what they can to keep their rides running, but unfortunately rides do have to close for various reasons such as weather or operational difficulties. Brand new rides sometimes have some growing pains, and shutdowns that occur are almost always for reasons of safety. We understand the disappointment when an attraction is closed during your visit, but closures occur at every park, no matter how well maintained.

I visited one of the parks on your list and had a terrible time. How can you give that park a Golden Ticket?

There are many factors that can affect a guest’s visit to a park, such as weather, crowds or rides being down. One person can have a spectacular time on one day, while someone else on another day might not have as good a time. Keep in mind that the parks and attractions are chosen by experienced voters who visit a number of parks each year. They are also savvy enough to avoid certain days. If you visited during a holiday or particularly crowded day, your experience could be diminished. If you had a bad experience at a park, we encourage you to stop by guest relations and let them know. You might also consider writing to the park afterward and politely and clearly tell them why you were disappointed. If you still feel the situation is unresolved, feel free to contact us — we might be able to put you in touch with the correct people.

Still have questions?

E-mail Golden Ticket Awards Coordinator Tim Baldwin at tbaldwin@amusementtoday.com.

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