Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk hosts annual Golden Ticket Awards

By | September 7, 2013


AT / Dan Feicht

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., Sept. 7, 2013 – They are the equivalent of the Academy Awards for the amusement industry, and in an awards show hosted today by Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Amusement Today announced the winners of its prestigious 2013 Golden Ticket Awards.  These annual awards are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry in such categories as “amusement parks,” “roller coasters,” “water rides,” “shows” and “food.”

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.  The 2013 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 Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn.
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 TIE!  Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
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 2013 – Amusement Park Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo.
Best New Ride of 2013 – Waterpark River Rush at Dollywood’s Splash Country, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
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 16th 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 Supplier of the Year, (Co)-Person of the Year, and the Turnstile Award.  Respectively, the 2013 recipients are:

  • Bussink Design GmbH in Appenzell, Switzerland, for more than 30 years of creativity and attention to detail in rewriting the way guests enjoy today’s Observation Wheel;
  • John Arie, Sr., of Fun Spot Attractions in Orlando, Fla., for living out his dream of providing affordable family thrills in today’s market and launching the new $25 million, 15-acre Fun Spot America in the heart of Orlando’s competitive tourism area;
  • Kimberle R. Samarelli of the New Jersey Amusement Association (NJAA) in Seaside Heights, N.J., for her unwavering dedication to the amusement industry while tirelessly tending to the recovery efforts of the Jersey Shore following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy; and
  • Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., for its vision and commitment to almost completely refurbishing its heirloom attraction, Timber Mountain Log Ride, and increasing ridership of this historic ride; thus moving the turnstiles in record numbers.

For the ninth consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by the ceremony’s host park of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; California’s Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.; and Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy, Calif., as Ms. and Mr. Golden Tickets.  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 waterpark news and trends.  In its 17-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 2013 winners and survey results, please log on to