The Golden Ticket Awards | Presented by Amusement Today

The Golden Ticket Awards | Presented by Amusement Today

The Golden Ticket Awards | Presented by Amusement Today

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2014 GTA Winners

The 2014 Golden Ticket Awards were hosted at Belmont Park, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo (California).

Best New Attraction for 2014 (Amusement Park)
Flying TurnsKnoebels Amusement Resort27%
BansheeKings Island19%
GoliathSix Flags Great America11%
Harry Potter and the Escape from GringottsIslands of Adventure10%
Lightning RunKentucky Kingdom9%
Best New Ride for 2014 (Water Park)
VerrücktSchlitterbahn Kansas City59%
Colossal CurlWater Country USA11%
Bahama BlastersSix Flags Fiesta Texas10%
Deep Water DiveKentucky Kingdom8%
Snake PitDorney Park / Wildwater Kingdom4%
Best Park
Europa-ParkRust, Germany25%
Cedar PointSandusky, Ohio16%
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.9%
Knoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.8%
DisneylandAnaheim, Calif.8%
Universal’s Islands of AdventureOrlando, Fla.5%
Magic KingdomOrlando, Fla.Orlando, Fla.(tie) 4%
Tokyo DisneySeaTokyo, Japan(tie) 4%
Busch Gardens WilliamsburgOrlando, Fla.3.50%
Holiday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.3%
Best Water Park
SchlitterbahnNew Braunfels, Texas55%
Splashin’ SafariSanta Claus, Ind.17%
Dollywood’s Splash CountryPigeon Forge, Tenn.5%
Blizzard BeachOrlando, Fla.4.5%
Typhoon LagoonOrlando, Fla.4%
Best Children’s Park
Idlewild & SoakZoneLigonier, Pa.34%
Story LandGlen, N.H.13%
Legoland CaliforniaCarlsbad, Calif.12.5%
Legoland FloridaWinter Haven, Fla.10%
Enchanted ForestTurner, Ore.(tie) 5%
Santa’s VillageJefferson, N.H.(tie) 5%
Best Marine Life Park
SeaWorld OrlandoOrlando, Fla.52%
SeaWorld San DiegoSan Diego, Calif.12%
Discovery CoveOrlando, Fla.10%
Six Flags Discovery KingdomVallejo, Calif.9%
SeaWorld San AntonioSan Antonio, Texas8%
Best Seaside Park
Santa Cruz Beach BoardwalkSanta Cruz, Calif.45%
Blackpool Pleasure BeachBlackpool, England16%
Gröna LundStockholm, Sweden15%
Morey’s PiersWildwood, N.J.12%
Belmont ParkSan Diego, Calif.4%
Best Kids’ Area
Kings IslandMason, Ohio26%
EftelingKaatsheuvel, Netherlands13%
Knott’s Berry FarmBuena Park, Calif10%
Universal’s Islands of AdventureOrlando, Fla.9.5%
Nickelodeon UniverseBloomington, Minn.9%
Cleanest Park
Holiday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.23%
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.13%
DisneylandAnaheim, Calif.12%
Europa-ParkRust, Germany10%
Busch Gardens WilliamsburgWilliamsburg, Va.9%
Friendliest Park
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.39%
Holiday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.14%
Silver Dollar CityBranson, Mo.11%
Knoebel’s Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.6%
DisneylandAnaheim, Calif.5%
Best Shows
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.45%
Six Flags Fiesta TexasSan Antonio, Texas12%
Europa-ParkRust, Germany8%
Silver Dollar CityBranson, Mo.6.5%
Disney California AdventureAnaheim, Calif6%
Best Outdoor Show Production
World of ColorDisney California Adventure19%
Lone Star NightsSix Flags Fiesta Texas10%
Fantasmic!Disney’s Hollywood Studios9%
Best Landscaping
Busch Gardens WilliamsburgWilliamsburg Va.24%
Gilroy GardensGilroy, Calif.23%
EftelingKaatsheuvel, Netherlands17%
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.6%
EpcotOrlando, Fla.5%
Best Food
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.21%
Knoebel’s Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.18%
EpcotOrlando, Fla.17.5%
Silver Dollar CityBranson, Mo.13%
Europa-ParkRust, Germany7%
Best Carousel
Knoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.40%
Santa Cruz Beach BoardwalkSanta Cruz, Calif.27%
Six Flags Great AmericaGurnee, Ill.5.5%
KennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.(tie) 5%
PhantasialandBrühl, Germany(tie) 5%
Best Water Ride (Park)
Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw FallsUniversal’s Islands of Adventure21%
ValhallaBlackpool Pleasure Beach12%
Splash MountainDisneyland11%
Timber Mountain Log RideKnott’s Berry Farm10.5%
Mountain SlidewinderDollywood9%
Best Water Park Ride
WildebeestSplashin’ Safari23%
Master BlasterSchlitterbahn16%
MammothSplashin’ Safari15%
The FallsSchlitterbahn9%
Congo River ExpeditionSchlitterbahn(tie) 8%
VerrücktSchlitterbahn, Kansas City(tie) 8%
Best Dark Ride
Harry Potter and the Forbidden JourneyUniversal’s Islands of Adventure20%
Twilight Zone Tower of TerrorDisney’s Hollywood Studios10.5%
Radiator Springs RacersDisney California Adventure10%
The Amazing Adventures of Spider-ManUniversal’s Islands of Adventure(tie) 9%
Haunted MansionKnoebels Amusement Resort(tie) 9%
Best Indoor Water Park
Schlitterbahn Galveston IslandGalveston, Texas25%
Kalahari ResortSandusky, Ohio19%
World WaterparkEdmonton, Alberta, Canada12%
Kalahari ResortWisconsin Dells, Wis.9%
Splash LandingsStaffordshire, England8%
Best Indoor Roller Coaster
Revenge of the MummyUniversal Studios Orlando21%
Space MountainDisneyland14%
Black DiamondKnoebels Amusement Resort9%
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through
Noah’s ArkKennywood32%
Frankenstein’s CastleIndiana Beach17%
Gasten Ghost HotelLiseberg15%
Ghost ShipMorey’s Piers12%
Lustiga HusetGröna Lund11%
Best Halloween Event
Universal Studios OrlandoOrlando, Fla.28%
Knott’s Berry FarmBuena Park, Calif.20%
Knoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.14%
KennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.9%
Cedar PointSandusky, Ohio6%
Best Christmas Event
DollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.41%
DisneylandAnaheim, Calif.10%
Silver Dollar CityBranson, Mo.9.5%
Magic KingdomOrlando, Fla.9%
KennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.7%

Turnstile Award: Hyland Hills Water World protects its icons


When a water park has entertained long enough to celebrate 35 summers of providing fun to its guests, it means they have done their job during that time, or the guests would not continue to come back as repeat customers.

Hyland Hills Water World spent the off-season refurbishing two of its very unique and iconic attractions. Shown here are the Lost River of the Pharaohs (top) and Voyage to the Center of the Earth (above). COURTESY WATER WORLD

Along the way it usually means the park has created a ride, or attraction, that becomes a park icon in the guests eyes. Such is the case with the community-owned Water World, part of the Hyland Hills Parks & Recreation District in Federal Heights, Colorado, just outside of Denver.

But in this case, the park created not one, but two unique rides that are truly entrenched into the park’s slide lineup, and labeled as “must-do” rides.

First up was the 1990 installation of Lost River of the Pharaohs, followed by the 1993 installation of Voyage to the Center of the Earth. Both of these family rafting type rides are indoors and are of dark ride in nature.

The creative minds of R&R Creative Design, Sally Corporation’s lifelike animatronic figures, special effects, and custom rockwork from National Rock & Sculpture allowed the park to create these two inconic attractions inhouse and with lasting success.

Now in 2014, these two guest favorite dark-ride attractions have been enhanced in a big way.

Voyage to the Center of the Earth, with its 1,600 foot-long course, now features a more realistic looking, life-sized T-Rex which underwent a complete overhaul this winter. The T-Rex is now able to take a six-foot leap towards the floating guests with four very intimidating movements. Also added were three animated prehistoric turtles and two birds featuring wingspans of 10 feet. The T-Rex Cave was enhanced with even more animation as well as all new lighting and sounds effects from R&R Creative.

At the 1,500 foot-long Lost River of the Pharaohs, the park added animation to the two scary statues in the Throne Room. It added laser effects to both a new mural and numerous mummies and added the off-the-wall water effects of the spitting Pharaoh hounds.
Hyland Hills Water World spent just $150,000 to upgrade these two classics for their guests to enjoy, proving that just a little effort can move the turnstile. The results have been phenomenal with guest feedback off the charts.

With their vision to enhance these two very unique icons through added storylines, visuals, animation, lighting and sound, Amusement Today is honored to name Hyland Hills Water World as our Publisher’s Pick for the 2014 Turnstile Award.

Legend Series: George Millay reshaped industry with water

George Millay
George Millay

If ever an individual created a sea change in the amusement industry, it was George Millay. As the leading creative force behind the SeaWorld theme park chain and the father of the water park, Millay had a vision that was more than just adding water to fun — it revolutionized our business by using our most vital natural resource to engage parkgoers and enhance the interactivity of their experience.

SeaWorld San Diego, opened in 1964, was the pride of George Millay, who co-founded the original park and presided over the SeaWorld chain until 1974, when he built, in Orlando the first of what would be seven Wet ’n Wild water parks by the time he sold the company in 1998. Above, George with his wife, Anne, at SeaWorld. COURTESY SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT

Water, or at least his close proximity to it, was a constant in Millay’s life. Born in 1929 in San Diego, he grew up in Ocean Beach, San Francisco and Hawaii and served in the Navy for three years. Upon graduating from UCLA in 1955, he worked briefly as a stockbroker before he and a business partner opened the Reef Restaurant in Long Beach in 1956. That eatery became the cornerstone of Specialty Restaurants Corporation, with which Millay remained involved for another decade.

Even while enjoying that success, Millay partnered with two UCLA fraternity brothers, Dave DeMotte and Milt Shedd, and the wildlife curator at Marineland in Palos Verdes, Ken Norris, to begin developing a marine life park called SeaWorld on San Diego’s
Mission Bay. Today, half a century after that landmark opened in 1964, the
company encompasses 11 destination and regional parks across the U.S.

Millay’s enthusiasm for the business of fun did not stop with SeaWorld. At the start of the 1970s, he assisted with the development of Magic Mountain theme park north of Los Angeles. And in 1974, he formed another company,
Leisure Marine, in San Diego, with which he explored the feasibility of a new type of park featuring water-based attractions. From this, the national Wet ‘n Wild water park chain emerged.

“Water-oriented activities are among the fastest-growing forms of recreation in America,” Millay said at the time. “People are demanding activities that they can participate in.”

Millay left us in 2006, but he also has left us with a legacy of entertainment that has fulfilled the public’s desire for participatory fun while also promoting conservation and showcasing the natural wonders of our world. Like water is to humanity, his concepts will remain a life force in our industry — and for this, Amusement Today honors George Millay with its 2014 Legend Series Award.

Person of the Year: Jeff Pike gave the gift of ‘life’

Jeff Pike (left) and Mike Boodley in a New Jersey hospital following kidney transplant surgery. COURTESY MIKE BOODLEY

Finding one’s dream job is a goal to which many of us aspire. Those able to attain it do so through desire, diligence and hard work. Jeff Pike is one of those people. He knew as a young boy that he wanted to design roller coasters. His unwavering resolve paid off handsomely when Great Coasters International, Inc. co-founders Clair Hain, Jr. and Michael L. Boodley recognized Jeff’s potential and hired him as he completed his engineering degree in the late ‘90s.

Jeff Pike has enjoyed much success as a designer with Great Coasters International, creating top-ranked wooden roller coasters for many age groups to enjoy. AT FILE

While Jeff brought with him the technical wizardry of modern
engineering techniques, he was able to flourish due to the assistance of Mike, who acted as his mentor. Mike and Jeff combined their talents, and along with the GCII team, they created some of the most amazing wooden coasters seen since the industry’s Golden Age in the early 20th century. During this time, a close bond between the pair developed, which further facilitated their inspired work.

When Mike decided to retire in 2000, he effectively passed the torch to Jeff, who was working his way up to a position as GCII’s lead designer. Thanks to Mike’s influence and tutelage, Jeff helped GCII become a respected global leader in finely crafted wooden coasters. Jeff would forever be grateful to Mike for taking the chance on him and allowing him to realize his dream.

Thirteen years later, Jeff faced a difficult decision when he learned that Mike’s health was in rapid decline with his kidneys failing due to complications from diabetes. He needed a kidney transplant. Many of Mike’s close friends stepped up to help by being tested to see if they were a match. Mike was adamant that Jeff not be a transplant candidate due to commitments to his wife and young children. Of course, Jeff would not be deterred. Against astronomical odds, he turned out to be a perfect match. After much testing and working to lose weight as the doctors ordered, both Mike and Jeff checked into a New Jersey hospital for the procedure in December 2013.

The surgery was a complete success, but the road to recovery was a difficult one, especially for Jeff. The pain he endured as he healed was substantial, but with the same fortitude that served him all his life, he persevered. Today, both Mike and Jeff are healthy and living life to the fullest with their enduring friendship intact.

For selflessly offering the ultimate gift — the gift of life to a dear friend — as well as helping to keep the traditional wooden roller coaster alive and well into the 21st century, Jeff Pike is AT’s choice for 2014 Person of the Year.

Persons of the Year: SeaWorld Rescue teams rehabilitate wildlife


The 50th anniversary of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment this year celebrates a milestone beyond the creation of fun. It marks the fifth decade of the company’s unique commitment to conservation. This includes public education and — through the work of the nonprofit Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, established in 1963 — species study and preservation, as well as environmental stewardship.

This commitment culminates with SeaWorld’s recently announced Blue World Project, a greatly expanded, state-of-the-art killer whale environment that first will be built at SeaWorld San Diego, plus more than $10 million in new matching funds for research and conservation projects related to killer whales and ocean health. These developments will enhance further the company’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care.

SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams based in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio, are on call 24/7 to give ill, injured and stranded marine mammals and sea birds a second chance at life. Nationally, more than 23,000 animals have been rescued and rehabilitated. COURTESY SEAWORLD

Behind the scenes, important work has long been carried out through SeaWorld’s animal and rehabilitation program, which gives ill, injured and stranded animals a second chance at life and with the goal of returning them to their ocean home. Nationally, SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams have rescued and rehabilitated more the 23,000 animals. SeaWorld San Diego’s team alone has rescued more than 7,000 marine mammals and more than 8,000 marine birds since 1965.

In 2013, the SeaWorld San Diego team — utilizing a state-of-the-art medical and laboratory facility — rescued a near-record number of California sea lions as a result of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that caused juvenile sea lions to strand on beaches along the central and southern coastline of California. SeaWorld cared for more than 411 sea lions, the majority of which were part of the UME, in addition to other marine mammal species, including 10 elephant seals, 12 harbor seals, one fur seal and five dolphins. In addition, SeaWorld took in and cared for 267 birds. As of the first quarter of this year, the park had already rescued more than 185 marine mammals and more than 120 sea birds.

For their tireless dedication to animal welfare, Amusement Today presents its 2014 Persons of the Year Award to the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams based in San Diego, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; and San Antonio, Texas.

2014’s Top 50 Steel Coasters

1Millennium ForceCedar PointSandusky, Ohio2000Intamin1139
2BizarroSix Flags New EnglandAgawam, Mass.2000Intamin1049
3Expedition GeForceHoliday ParkHassloch, Germany2001Intamin764
4DiamondbackKings IslandMason, Ohio2009B&M579
5NitroSix Flags Great AdventureJackson, N.J.2001B&M563
6LeviathanCanada’s WonderlandVaughan, Ont., Canada2012B&M500
7Apollo’s ChariotBusch Gardens WilliamsburgWilliamsburg, Va.1999B&M484
8New Texas GiantSix Flags Over TexasArlington, Texas2011Rocky Mountain465
9GoliathSix Flags Over GeorgiaAustell, Ga.2006B&M422
10IntimidatorCarowindsCharlotte, N.C.2010B&M387
11Phantom’s RevengeKennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.2001Morgan384
12Iron RattlerSix Flags Fiesta TexasSan Antonio, Texas2013Rocky Mountain367
13 (tie)Magnum XL-200Cedar PointSandusky, Ohio1989Arrow366
13 (tie)Intimidator 305Kings DominionDoswell, Va.2010Intamin366
15BehemothCanada’s WonderlandVaughan, Ont., Canada2008B&M318
16BansheeKings IslandMason, Ohio2014B&M317
17Blue Fire MegacoasterEuropa-ParkRust, Germany2009Mack304
18X2Six Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.2002Arrow292
19Top Thrill DragsterCedar PointSandusky, Ohio2003Intamin273
20Mind BenderSix Flags Over GeorgiaAustell, Ga.1978Schwarzkopf249
21NemesisAlton TowersStaffordshire, England1994B&M245
22MontuBusch Gardens Tampa BayTampa, Fla.1996B&M229
23AlpengeistBusch Gardens WilliamsburgWilliamsburg, Va.1997B&M220
24Black MambaPhantasialandBrühl, Germany2006B&M179
25Lightning RunKentucky KingdomLouisville, Ky.2014Chance165
26 (tie)GoliathLa RondeMontreal, Quebec, Canada2006B&M157
26 (tie)SkyrushHersheyparkHershey, Pa.2012Intamin157
28 (tie)MaverickCedar PointSandusky, Ohio2007Intamin138
28 (tie)Wild EagleDollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.2012B&M138
30HelixLisebergGothenburg, Sweden2014Mack134
31Raging BullSix Flags Great AmericaGurnee, Ill.1999B&M124
32GateKeeperCedar PointSandusky, Ohio2013B&M117
33GriffonBusch Gardens WilliamsburgWilliamsburg, Va.2007B&M116
34TatsuSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.2006B&M115
35LisebergbananLisebergGothenburg, Sweden1987Schwarzkopf113
36KumbaBusch Gardens Tampa BayTampa, Fla.1993B&M110
37Steel ForceDorney ParkAllentown, Pa.1998Morgan106
38SheiKraBusch Gardens Tampa BayTampa, Fla.2005B&M101
39Full ThrottleSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.2013Premier95
40Shock WaveSix Flags Over TexasArlington, Texas1978Schwarzkopf90
41MantaSeaWorld OrlandoOrlando, Fla.2009B&M87
42Euro-MirEuropa-ParkRust, Germany1997Mack81
43GoliathSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.2000Giovanola79
44WhizzerSix Flags Great AmericaGurnee, Ill.1976Schwarzkopf77
45Kingda KaSix Flags Great AdventureJackson, N.J.2005Intamin76
46PiratenDjurs SommerlandJylland, Denmark2008Intamin74
47RaptorCedar PointSandusky, Ohio1994B&M73
48Cheetah HuntBusch Gardens Tampa BayTampa, Fla.2011Intamin71
49 (tie)California Screamin’Disney California AdventureAnaheim, Calif.2001Intamin70
49 (tie)Volcano: The Blast CoasterKings DominionDoswell, Va.1998Intamin70

2014’s Top 50 Wooden Coasters

1Boulder DashLake CompounceBristol, Conn.2000Custom Coasters1480
2El ToroSix Flags Great AdventureJackson,N.J.2006Intamin1291
3The VoyageHoliday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.2006Gravity Group1129
4PhoenixKnoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.1985Dinn – PTC/Schmeck1036
5ThunderheadDollywoodPigeon Forge, Tenn.2004Great Coasters Int.837
6Ravine Flyer IIWaldameerErie, Pa.2008Gravity Group719
7Gold StrikerCalifornia’s Great AmericaSanta Clara, Calif.2013Great Coasters Int.619
8The BeastKings IslandMason, Ohio1979KECO614
9Outlaw RunSilver Dollar CityBranson, Mo.2013Rocky Mountain605
10BalderLisebergGothenburg, Sweden2003Intamin393
11Lightning RacerHersheyparkHershey, Pa.2000Great Coasters Int.342
12ProwlerWorlds of FunKansas City, Mo.2009Great Coasters Int.302
13The RavenHoliday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.1995Custom Coasters298
14ThunderboltKennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.1968Vettel/Miller270
15Shivering TimbersMichigan’s AdventureMuskegon, Mich.1998Custom Coasters264
16TroyToverlandSevenum, Netherlands2007Great Coasters Int.260
17Giant DipperSanta Cruz Beach BoardwalkSanta Cruz, Calif.1924Prior & Church/Looff238
18CometThe Great EscapeLake George, N.Y.1994PTC/Schmeck211
19Jack RabbitKennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.1920PTC/Miller204
20Kentucky RumblerBeech BendBowling Green, Ky.2006Great Coasters Int.203
21Wodan Timbur CoasterEuropa-ParkRust, Germany2012Great Coasters Int.200
22CycloneLuna Park/Coney IslandBrooklyn, N.Y.1927Kenan/Baker177
23GoliathSix Flags Great AmericaGurnee, Ill.2014Rocky Mountain166
24ColossosHeide ParkSoltau, Germany2001Intamin162
25Flying TurnsKnoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.2013Knoebels155
26Hades 360Mount OlympusWisconsin Dells, Wis.2005Gravity Group143
27The LegendHoliday WorldSanta Claus, Ind.2000Custom Coasters137
28Wooden WarriorQuassy ParkMiddlebury, Conn.2011Gravity Group122
29El ToroFreizeitpark PlohnLengenfeldl, Germany2009Great Coasters Int.119
30Blue StreakConneaut Lake ParkConneaut Lake, Pa.1938Vettel117
31American ThunderSix Flags St. LouisEureka, Mo.2009Great Coasters Int.114
32Grand NationalBlackpool Pleasure BeachBlackpool, England1935Paige110
33MegafobiaOakwood Leisure ParkPembrokeshire, Wales1996Custom Coasters108
34TremorsSilverwoodAthol, Idaho1999Custom Coasters105
35 (tie)Blue StreakCedar PointSandusky, Ohio1964PTC/Hoover104
35 (tie)Boardwalk BulletKemah BoardwalkKemah, Texas2007M&V/Gravity Group104
37Playland Wooden CoasterPlayland at the PNEVancouver, B.C., Canada1959Phare103
38 (tie)ApocalypseSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.2009Great Coasters Int.101
38 (tie)White LightningFun Spot AmericaOrlando, Fla.2013Great Coasters Int.101
40TwisterKnoebels Amusement ResortElysburg, Pa.1999Fetterman/Knoebels100
41RutschebanenTivoli GardensCopenhagen, Denmark1914Thompson98
42RacerKennywoodWest Mifflin, Pa.1927PTC/Miller96
43Wild MouseBlackpool Pleasure BeachBlackpool, England1958Wright/Blackpool95
44GhostRiderKnott’s Berry FarmBuena Park, Calif.1998Custom Coasters94
45ColossusSix Flags Magic MountainValencia, Calif.1978IAD86
46Tonnerre de ZeusParc AsterixPlailly, France1997Custom Coasters85
47HellcatTimber FallsWisconsin Dells, Wis.2004S&S78
48The BossSix Flags St. LouisEureka, Mo.2000Custom Coasters70
49ViperSix Flags Great AmericaGurnee, Ill.1995Starkey/Six Flags69
50Wood CoasterKnight ValleyShenzhen, China2011Great Coasters Int.68