Golden Ticket Awards: And the winner is...

Jephry's avatar

The Golden Ticket Awards posted a few days ago and the results are pretty interesting. Europa Park continues its 9-year run as Best Park. Cedar Point drops out of the top 5 for the first time since the Awards have been given. Similarly, Millennium Force stays in the top 3 Best Steel Coasters, but drops out of the top 2 for the first time since its debut. Phoenix is the Best Wooden Coaster...and I still don't understand why. Fury 325 holds on to its title as Best Steel Coaster which increases my need to ride it soon.

Jeff's avatar

As long as winners are buying ads in the publication that conducts the survey, I will never consider this particularly legitimate.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

They do have a large pool of voters for the awards who aren’t associated with the publication. Granted, they’ll never release the raw data so we can validate their methodology. However, there always seems to be a correlation between which parks have major enthusiast events (CoasterCon, for example) and where parks and rides land on the list. One example of this that immediately comes to mind is that Idlewild became best children’s park the same year that CoasterCon was hosted in Western PA.

IMO, the “industry awards” are where they give their advertisers a pat on the back if they don’t show up in the voted-on awards. Not happy that Europa Park won best park yet again? Give Kings Island a meaningless “park of the year” award that they’ll still manage to advertise the heck out of!

Last edited by PhantomTails,
Jeff's avatar

Well that's it too... advertisers who would never advertise in a trade magazine, because they're buyers and not sellers, advertise. And I know every trade magazine does it, but to me it cheapens the journalism. When you cover an industry and are part of an industry, you're never really unbiased.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Like the Golden Globes and the Hollywood Foreign Press?

Jephry's avatar

It reminds me of some of the "Best Places to Work" lists. Sure, entry is free, but they really try to get you to jump in on sponsorships or pay for additional details. The companies that do that always seem to end up higher on those lists.

I think I prefer the methodology used in the Golden Cog Awards (CoasterBot) which is really a new version of Mitch Hawker's Best Coaster Poll, which ended in 2013. I'm not sure how Coaster Buzz ranks the top coasters. I do wish ACE or some other org would create a more transparent version of these awards.

I don't think you'd see a separate ACE awards simply because the Golden Ticket Awards are, to some degree, ACE awards. Tim Baldwin is one of the main coordinators for the awards and he's also the editor of the ACE publications as well as a member of the events committee. Jeffrey Seifert, another Amusement Today contributor, is ACE's Association Manager and I believe its only paid employee. Several other of the Amusement Today staff are also volunteers for ACE as committee members and/or regional reps.

Last edited by PhantomTails,

All you need to know about the pool of voters for these sham awards is that 80% of them are in the United States. To quote from their own FAQ:

"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. "

This is exactly why the same parks win year after year.

My favorite thing associated with the Golden Tickets is the indignation from fan boys that follows.
It’s true that Cedar Point is noticeably absent from the top of many categories. I kind of get that, as CP has fallen into what a lot of fans would call a “rebuilding” period. But I cringe when I read comments on line that congratulate places like Kings Island for snatching away recognition from Cedar Point saying things like “May they never win that one again”. As noted above, I’ve tried to politely explain that Kings Island’s award didn’t even come as a result of a vote. It was “Publisher’s Pick” and was likely promoting a successful golden anniversary season. They say timing is everything and Cedar Point didn’t even really get to have theirs. I love Kings Island as much as the next person but I guess I’ll always consider it to be the secondary of the gates that we’re lucky to have here in Ohio.
Last Sunday I was at the park on a solo visit. I had the time to pay attention things like appearance, cleanliness, operations, food and retail and I found none of those categories to be severely lacking. I honestly had to re-appreciate the size and scope of an amusement park like the Point, which now carries the moniker “A Place Like No Other”. And that’s true. For all it includes and entails it’s a rarity in the industry- and if there’s a season where it falls short in some peoples’ eyes, especially with what’s happened here on planet earth last few years, I’m not surprised.

Jeff's avatar

One thing that I will admit it's good for, is getting together with all of the people at the party. I crashed, er, was a guest of someone at one of those once and had a blast catching up with people.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

I don't understand Pheonix as best wood coaster either, Twister is right across the park and personally I thought it was the better of the two wood coasters at Knoebels.

I honestly think where Twister falls short and why it doesn’t rank higher is that it’s nowhere close to its namesake. Eventually there will be no enthusiasts left who can recall Elitch’s ride (remembered by many as one of the finest coasters that ever existed) and maybe then things will improve for the ride in Elysburg. It’s not a bad ride, it’s just not as good as it could’ve (should’ve) been. As for the poll, I wouldn’t be surprised if the readership skews toward the older demographic, and includes enthusiasts who cut their teeth on the coasters of decades past. I also know the guys who staff the publication and they sort of fit the bill. Something tells me that the young YouTubers and gamers are not called upon to vote for or influence what Amusement Today publishes.
I’m on the list of people who think Phoenix absolutely deserves it’s spot at the top, no matter how it arrives there. It’s beautifully maintained by a park that knows what it’s doing and can spend the time and money. It has traditional seating and restraints that free up the experience. It’s a classic Herbert Schmeck design that features beautifully crafted, low airtime hills that send riders out of their seats over and over again with perfect timing. It also includes fast, flat turns that create lateral forces that add suspense before the next straight stretch. The overall operation is comfortable, efficient, sensible and unencumbered by superfluous safety regulations. Nighttime rides just seem to get faster and faster. It’s not the tallest or the fastest, but is old-school coasting at its finest and has something it’s younger and bigger brother across the park just doesn’t offer.

kpjb's avatar


One thing that I will admit it's good for, is getting together with all of the people at the party. I crashed, er, was a guest of someone at one of those once and had a blast catching up with people.

I hear that. When it was at CP I was sent up because we were getting an award for something that I had a big part in. We made a week out of it, got a big place on Put In Bay with people from a few different parks then went to CP afterward for the awards and festivities. It was a ridiculous good time. Maybe the best time I've had working in the industry.

Last edited by kpjb,


Pagoda Gift Shop's avatar

Dollywood seems to have made progress in a variety of categories over the past few years. They have been #2 for best park for several years now. Next year they debut a new coaster (Big Bear Mountain) and host the Golden Ticket awards.

I'm calling it now. Dollywood will be voted best park next year.

Coasterbuzz - Coaster enthusiasts, but so much more. We're the good ones.

They host CoasterCon next year as well so you may be right.


Elitch’s ride (remembered by many as one of the finest coasters that ever existed)

My unpopular opinion: Mr. Twister was the second-best wooden coaster at Elitch's.

ApolloAndy's avatar

This is neither here nor there, but on my recent and only trip to Elitch's, Twister II, the Arrow shuttle loop, and the half pipe were all down. So I got to ride a boomerang, a kiddie coaster, and an SLC. That was a sad trip.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Raven-Phile's avatar

Andy -There's really no other way to put this.


Last edited by Raven-Phile,

Andy- my trip to Elitch was sad and all the rides were operating. I can’t tell you how much I hated it there. The move from the original location did them no favors. The park had a decided Six Flags slant to it. And my afternoon was interrupted by a tornado causing the park to close. I had taken the train from the hotel and after I was tossed out it was touch and go for a few minutes trying to get back. The good news was that nobody died.
Their beautiful PTC (#51, 1928) carousel was a redeeming quality.

kpjb's avatar

Elitch's (the current one) may have been the worst park I've visited as far as coasters. The shuttle loop was the only thing that was actually fun. That Zamperla contraption is a torture device. Twister 2 was the only non-clone ride and it was pretty boring as I remember. I never understood why they'd move a park because it's landlocked then put it somewhere else that's landlocked. (And yes, I realize it wasn't as landlocked there at the time, but come on. You knew it was going to happen.) There's about 52 miles of nothing between the airport and the city. Put it there.


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