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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2018 Winners


Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards presented

at 2018 host park, Silver Dollar City


BRANSON, MO., Sept.8, 2018 – The spotlight was shining bright on the amusement industry this evening in an awards show hosted by Silver Dollar City, where the winners of Amusement Today’s 2018 Golden Ticket Awards were announced.

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 reveals continual fan favorites, each year there are surprises. The “Best New Ride of 2018” for amusement parks and water parks are always interesting categories to keep an eye on with Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and Aquatica in Orlando, Fla., taking top honors for their news rides this year. There is an annual good-natured back and forth in the category of “Best Food” between Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with Knoebels re-gaining the title for 2018. In the category of “Best Wooden Roller Coaster,” several popular coasters have been at the top of the list, and this year the designation goes to Knoebels Amusement Resort for its wooden wonder, the Phoenix.

The list of 2018 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 Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
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 Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
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 2018 – Amusement Park Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Best New Ride of 2018 – Water Park Ray Rush at Aquatica in Orlando, Fla.
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:

  • Innovation of the Year – Chance Rides, Wichita, Kan., for its green initiatives  specifically involving the all-electric C.P. Huntington train.  This attraction has changed the way the industry is evolving in terms of environment reliability, operator satisfaction and guest experience.
  • Turnstile Award – Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo., for its commitment to excellence, willingness to push themselves and take risks. These characteristics are proof in the park’s Time Traveler attraction introduced this year, which has helped create jobs, increase attendance and define a new area of the park.


For the 14th 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 Silver Dollar City.  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 21-year history, it is a five-time winner of various awards from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.  For a detailed outline of the 2018 winners and survey results, please log on to