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Golden Ticket Awards for 2012

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From Amusement Today


In an awards show hosted today by Dollywood, Amusement Today announced the winners of its prestigious 2012 Golden Ticket Awards, which are presented to the "Best of the Best" in the amusement industry.


Calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today, the Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey that is sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world – in balanced geographical regions – asking them to rate the "bests" in 25 categories such as "amusement parks," "roller coasters," "water rides," "shows," "landscaping" and Halloween and Christmas events. The 2012 winners are …


Best Amusement Park-- Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

Best Waterpark-- Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas

Best Children's Park-- Idlewild and 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-- Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

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 Outdoor Night Show Production-- IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot, Orlando, Fla.

Best Water Ride-- Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.

Best Waterpark Ride-- Wildebeest at Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

Best Dark Ride-- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.

Best New Ride of 2012 – Amusement Park-- Wild Eagle at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Best New Ride of 2012 – Waterpark-- Mammoth at Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.

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 Indoor Waterpark-- Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas

Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction-- Noah's Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.


This is the 15th annual year for Amusement Today's coveted Golden Ticket Awards, which are the most sought-after awards in the business of amusements and attractions. The awards have become the subject of much discussion by park aficionados the world over and have garnered mentions in such notable media outlets as USA TODAY and the Chicago Tribune, by venerable radio newsman the late-Paul Harvey and were the topic of a one-hour documentary on the Travel Channel.


Personally chosen by Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, this year's Publisher's Pick Awards were presented in the categories of Park of the Year, Supplier of the Year, Person of the Year, and the Turnstile Award. Respectively, the 2012 recipients are:


  • Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif., for its imagination and creativity in introducing a new $1.1 billion makeover, headlined by the ultra-popular Cars Land that opened to rave reviews this past summer;
  • RWS and Associates Entertainment, Inc., in New York, N.Y., for redefining the nighttime landscape at a regional amusement park and creating an unbelievable midway energy with its production of Luminosity at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio;
  • Tilman J. Fertitta of Landry's, Inc., in Houston, Texas, for stepping up to the challenge of contributing to the rebuilding of Galveston Island and its historic pier following Hurricane Ike by returning amusements to the area following a 50-year absence; and
  • SeaWorld San Diego in California, for its vision to bring a high-tech thrill ride to this marine life park while keeping the park's theme in mind and delivering capacity demands that are placed on a year-round destination park.

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While I agree with some of the picks on this list, it's generally based on who buys advertising in Amusement Today as well as being chosen by a very small group of people who see "traditional" amusement parks like Knoebel's, Kennywood, Holiday World as being superior to the theme parks so the results are often skewed. It's kind of a shock they chose El Toro since coasters like The Phoenix at Knoebel's take the top spot.

Here's the full list of top 10 woodies:

1 El Toro

Six Flags Great Adventure

Jackson, N.J.



2 The Voyage

Holiday World

Santa Claus, Ind.


Gravity Group

3 Phoenix

Knoebels Amusement Resort

Elysburg, Pa.



4 Thunderhead


Pigeon Forge, Tenn.



5 Boulder Dash

Lake Compounce

Bristol, Conn.



6 Ravine Flyer II


Erie, Pa.


Gravity Group

7 The Beast

Kings Island

Kings Mills, Ohio



8 The Raven

Holiday World

Santa Claus, Ind.



9 Shivering Timbers

Michigan's Adventure

Muskegon, Mich.



10 Balder


Gothenburg, Sweden



And here is top 10 steel:

1 Millennium Force

Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio



2 Bizarro

Six Flags New England

Agawam, Mass.



3 Nitro

Six Flags Great Adventure

Jackson, N.J.



4 Apollo's Chariot

Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Va.



5 New Texas Giant

Six Flags Over Texas

Arlington, Texas


Rocky Mountain

6 Expedition GeForce

Holiday Park

Hassloch, Germany



7 Intimidator


Charlotte, N.C.



8 Magnum XL-200

Cedar Point

Sandusky, Ohio



9 Goliath

Six Flags Over Georgia

Austell, Ga.



10 Diamondback

Kings Island

Mason, Ohio



Here's the list of winners and runners up:

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Source: Six Flags Great Adventure


Six Flags Great Adventure’s El Toro Named

World’s Best Wooden Coaster


Nitro Ranks World’s No. 3 Steel Coaster for Sixth Consecutive Year


JACKSON, NJ—September 10, 2012—Six Flags Great Adventure today announced that El Toro received the 2012 Golden Ticket Award for the World’s Best Wooden Roller Coaster, and Nitro placed third in the World’s Best Steel Roller Coaster category for the sixth consecutive year. The Golden Ticket Awards, hosted by Amusement Today magazine, annually honors the best theme parks, rides and attractions in the world as voted by a panel of industry experts and park enthusiasts. The 15th annual awards were held in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. and presented Sept. 8.


This is El Toro’s first Golden Ticket win in its six-year history, adding to a third-place finish in 2011. El Toro was designed by the Switzerland-based Intamin and debuted in 2006. It is known for its marriage of the smooth height, speed and technology of a steel coaster, while keeping to its classic, wooden coaster roots. El Toro was also recently voted No. 1 Wooden Roller Coaster in the 2011 Internet Coaster Poll.


“The Golden Ticket award is an excellent recognition for the park and El Toro,” said Six Flags Great Adventure Park President John Fitzgerald. “It is without question the best wood coaster in the world.”


El Toro’s “out-and-back hybrid” style was inspired by the agility and strength of the brave matadors. Its 4,400 feet of track begins with a 188-foot lift hill before plummeting riders down a 176-foot drop at a white-knuckled 76 degrees. The coaster continues with fast-charging, classic “out-and-back” drops at speeds reaching 70 mph before the “twister” side takes over with a finale of multiple highly-banked curves. El Toro offers a total of nine moments of “airtime” where riders experience the coveted sensation of weightlessness.


Nitro is a 230-foot-tall, steel mega coaster. It features more than a mile of extreme hills, curves and seven “airtime”-producing camelbacks while reaching a top speed of 80 mph. Designed by the Switzerland-based Bolliger & Mabillard, Nitro has been thrilling more than a million riders each year since its inception in 2001.


El Toro, Nitro and the park’s line-up of world-class rides will thrill riders through Six Flags Great Adventure’s 21st annual Fright Fest Halloween event ending Oct. 28, 2012.

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