Written by Russell Meyer
Published: August 28, 2005 at 8:56 PM
The annual best-of list from Amusement Today, better known as the Golden Tickets, were just released, and in this edition of the BLOGFlume, I’m going to dissect the results. The results, as usual, are not terribly surprising, but there were a few changes from last year’s results. So let’s get to the winners…
1. Cedar Point 37%
2. Islands of Adventure 14%
3. Blackpool Pleasure Beach 9%
4. Europa Park 7%
4. Knoebel’s 7%
This list does not offer much of surprise, other than Cedar Point increasing its popularity from last year (35% in 2004 to 37% in 2005). Cedar Point is a great amusement park, but I don’t feel that it has gotten significantly better over the years. As with many other awards, the status quo continues to rule. Europa Park displaces Kennywood from the top five, but the others are repeats from last year.
1. Schlitterbahn 52%
2. Splashin’ Safari 17%
3. Blizzard Beach 7%
4. Noah’s Ark 5%
5. Typhoon Lagoon 3%
Schlitterbahn continues its dominance in the waterpark category with Disney’s two waterparks staying in the top five. Noah’s Ark in Wisconsin Dells displaced Boomerang Bay at Paramount’s Kings Island, but once again the status quo is maintained.
Best Children’s Park
1. Legoland 44%
2. Idlewild 12%
3. Kiddieland 9%
4. Sesame Place 8%
5. Dutch Wonderland 6%
Legoland maintains its top spot in this category as the best theme park for kids. As with the other categories, four of the top five are repeats from last year, with Chicago’s Kiddieland taking the place of Cleveland’s Memphis Kiddie Park in this year’s top five.
Friendliest Park Staff
1. Holiday World 47%
2. Dollywood 17%
3. Cedar Point 7%
3. Knoebel’s 7%
5. Magic Kingdom 4%
Holiday World once again is tops in this category, with the next four repeats of last year’s top 4. A new entry this year, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, breaks into the top five by knocking out Silver Dollar City.
1. Holiday World 37%
2. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 10%
3. Cedar Point 9%
4. Magic Kingdom 7%
5. Disneyland 6%
All five of these repeat from last year with Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Cedar Point pushing Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom down two spots to #4.
1. Six Flags Fiesta Texas 30%
2. Dollywood 19%
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 10%
4. Silver Dollar City 6%
5. Cedar Point 5%
5. Disney/MGM Studios 5%
The status quo is once again maintained with the top five parks in this category. Disney/MGM Studios manages to sneak into a tie with Cedar Point in this category.
1. Knoebel’s 26%
2. EPCOT 13%
3. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 12%
4. Dollywood 11%
5. Silver Dollar City 9%
Once again four of the five in this categories are repeaters from last year with Dollywood cracking the top five and pushing Kennywood out. It seems that the simplistic fair-style food of Knoebel’s is more popular than the exotic and international cuisine of both EPCOT and Busch Gardens Williamsburg. However, the gap is beginning to close.
1. Busch Gardens Williamsburg 43%
2. Efteling 18%
3. Bonfante Gardens 7%
4. Europa Park 4%
5. Busch Gardens Tampa 3%
This category saw one of the biggest changes in the top five with two Disney parks, EPCOT and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, inexplicably dropping from the top five to be replaced by Europa Park and Busch Gardens Tampa. I’m not sure how a Disney park cannot be on this list, but I guess it’s just a major theme of these awards.
Best Outdoor Night Production
1. EPCOT 27%
2. Six Flags Fiesta Texas 21%
3. Disneyland 13%
4. Disney/MGM Studios 12%
5. Cedar Point 9%
In a departure from the general trend, the Amusement Today voters finally recognize a Disney park by giving the Golden ticket to Illuminations at EPCOT. This was the one major award that saw a change at the top from last years, as EPCOT’s show trumped last year’s winner, Six Flags Fiesta Texas. However, the entire top five was in last year’s top five.
So, as it would seem, the Amusement Today voters are pretty good at making photocopies of last year’s ballots, but the one award that could not repeat last year’s results showed a somewhat surprising result.
Best New Ride for 2005
1. Hades 45%
2. Kingda Ka 16%
3. Italian Job 8%
4. maXair 6%
4. Powder Keg 6%
4. SheiKra 6%
By an overwhelming majority, Hades at Mt. Olympus wins this Golden ticket over a ride that didn’t operate for half of the year. The one glaring omission from this list has to be Theme Park Insider’s best new attraction winner, Curse of DarKastle at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Now lets move onto everyone’s favorite and most controversial lists, the top coaster lists…
Best Steel Roller Coaster
1. Millennium Force Cedar Point
2. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags New England
3. Magnum XL-200 Cedar Point
4. Apollo’s Chariot Busch Gardens Williamsburg
5. Nitro Six Flags Great Adventure
6. Expedition GeForce Holiday Park
7. Top Thrill Dragster Cedar Point
8. Phantom’s Revenge Kennywood
9. Raging Bull Six Flags Great America
10. Montu Busch Gardens Tampa
11. Raptor Card Point
12. X Six Flags Magic Mountain
13. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags Darien Lake
14. Steel Force Dorney Park
15. Dueling Dragons Islands of Adventure
16. Nemesis Alton Towers
17. Alpengeist Busch Gardens Williamsburg
18. Superman: Ride of Steel Six Flags America
19. Incredible Hulk Islands of Adventure
20. Goliath Six Flags Magic Mountain
The top three coasters remain unchanged, and I still cannot figure how Magnum is a top 10 roller coaster, while one of the best coasters on earth, Kraken at Sea World Orlando, was left on the outside of the top 20 at #26. I cannot complain about most of the coasters on this list, but I would probably have arranged them a little differently.
Best Wooden Roller Coaster
1. Thunderhead Dollywood
2. Boulder Dash Lake Compounce
3. Shivering Timbers Michigan’s Adventure
4. Phoenix Knoebel’s
5. Raven Holiday World
6. Hades Mt. Olympus
7. The Legend Holiday World
8. The Beast Paramount’s Kings Island
9. Lightning Racer Hersheypark
10. Ghostrider Knott’s Berry Farm
11. Avalanche Timber Falls
12. Texas Giant Six Flags Over Texas
13. Megafobia Oakwood Leisure Park
14. Cyclone Astroland (Coney Island)
15. Tremors Silverwood
16. Ozark Wildcat Celebration City
17. Rampage Visionland
18. Cornball Express Indiana Beach
19. Colossus Heide Park
20. Comet The Great Escape
There’s not much to complain about this list as the voters vault Dollywood’s Thunderhead to the top spot ahead of Boulder Dash. The high debut of Hades at #6 would suggest that it’s in line for #1 next year, since Thunderhead debuted on last year’s list at #7.
So that’s the major categories, and just like every year, parks change, but these awards seem to stay the same. While I agree with giving credit to a lot of the theme parks that are not owned by Disney, it’s really confusing to see Disney parks omitted from a number of these lists. I agree that Cedar Point is a great park, and that it has some great coasters, but these awards show quite a bit of bias towards the Sandusky, Ohio park. These awards also seem to ignore the work done by Disney to keep their parks as some of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. At any rate, there they are, and now it’s your turn to dissect them.
I was shocked about DarKastle. Even more at it not getting mentioned in either of the two categories (Best new ride and best dark ride).
Personally, while I love Kraken, I think it is overrated on TPI right now. In general, I think we have too many roller coasters on the Top 25. (I'm sorry, but neither X nor any other ride that can't run on a regular basis belongs in the Top 25.) Where's Men in Black? DarKastle? Orlando's Mummy? Haunted Mansion? All belong on the Top 25 ahead of some of the one-note coasters up there now.
I would agree with Robert that these awards always seem to skew towards "amusement" parks, but the fact that they consistantly give awards to "theme" parks in many categories is hypocritical. If they are going to give awards to "amusement" parks, than "theme" parks should not be eligible to win any awards. What I think has happened is that the voters for the Golden Tickets are fans of the "amusement" industry, and just don't know how to recognize the efforts of "theme" parks. I think the voters also hadicap parks that get the massive attendance numbers like Disney and Universal because they don't want their awards turning into a public popularity contest. If that were the case, these awards would end up like Billboard, where the parks with the highest attendance would win everything.
I just wish the voters for these awards were forced to prove that they attended at least 10 different parks during the year to show that they have a somewhat objective outlook on the industry. What we end up with instead is a bunch of people who vote for a park that they may not have visited in a few years, or one they go to 10-15 times a year without knowing what any other parks are like, and just voting for what park won last year. It's almost become redundant to give these awards away, because they rarely ever change.
Anthony, if you didn't know, Theme Park Insider also recognized Legoland as the #1 park for kids. The kids park category is supposed to be for parks specifically designed for kids, not "kids of all ages." Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Disneyland are great parks to take kids to, but they are designed with whole families in mind. Parks like Legoland, Dutch Wonderland, and Sesame Place are designed with just kids in mind.
Millennium Force is without doubt number one in the steel category, but I too think that Magnum is a bit on the overratted side nowadays. No doubt that it is still a great ride, but I don't think it's number 3 (I would have given 3 to Apollo's Chariot)....then again, how does one distinguish between all of the B&M coasters out there that are pretty much the same? Kraken bears a pretty close resemblance to Dominator at Geauga Lake, and Superman Krypton at Fiesta Texas. There are 4 B&M inverts on the list, all of which offer the same elements in a different sequence. Another strange thing, there are 3 clones on the list. Superman Ride of Steel is on the list 3 times. I do think that Kraken should have made it past at least 2 of them. I did notice that this list is pretty much owned by two manufacturers. Intamin and B&M. The wood coaster category has a little more validity to it. I love the fact that the Coney Island Cyclone, and the Comet from Great Escape still deservedly make this list, and the Beast from Kings Island remains in the top ten.
DarKastle was indeed conspicuous by it's absence. Four roller coasters and a Giant Frisbee made it over BG's new offering. Despite Golden Ticket's lean towards amusement attractions and a bit of favor towards Cedar Point, that still begs the question from me....is DarKastle that bad? Is it that forgettable that a Huss Giant Frisbee (and not the first one either) can slip in past it? I didn't make it to Williamsburg this year, so I'm just asking those who rode it.
Glad to see Cedar Point remains on top as well. They haven't been at the top of their game lately, and them being in the best show category is a bit out there, but I still think they deserve the recognition they get. It's a great place to go...better than any other amusement park, and most theme parks as well.
There will probably never be a totally objective poll and awards format given out...not unless somebody wants to pony up the dough for a few hundred random park enthusiasts to each go to 20 theme and amusement parks around the world. If someone does get that idea, don't forget to count me in.
Am I being elitist and mean? Yep. But I put as much stock in that list as I do a weight-loss book written by Rosie O'Donald. And to Derek Potter: Yeah, we here at THEME PARK insider would probably vote for THEME PARKS over amusement parks...we THEME PARK afficionados are kinda funny that way. (re: notice the name of the site)
Coasters are fun. And so are beer tents. But Amusement Today's list is just second rate by any standard. Let's flush it and get on to REAL evaluations by REAL theme park enthusiasts.
"Yeah, we here at THEME PARK insider would probably vote for THEME PARKS over amusement parks...we THEME PARK afficionados are kinda funny that way"
Just like those at AMUSEMENT BUSINESS MAGAZINE (see Golden Ticket voters genius) would lean toward amusement parks.
Don't piss and moan about someone elses poll being biased when you yourself have the same bias for the opposite side. Your entire closed minded post reeks of hypocrisy, so how can you possbly be a credible judge of who deserves to win best anything in a park? Obviously you can't, because in your eyes...Disney is God. Don't drink the haterade because some people prefer amusement parks over theme parks, and they happen to vote for awards.
Didn't the company who owns Schlitterbahn also design and develop 'Crush 'n' Gusher' for Typhoon Lagoon?
It will be interesting to see how the new waterpark planned for Sea World in Orlando will do on this poll.
Not many surprises here. I'm a little bit shocked that DarkCastle was left out of the Best New Ride category. Oh well.