Amusement Today announces winners of Golden Ticket Awards at industry event hosted by Dollywood

By | September 8, 2012

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn., Sept. 8, 2012 – 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.


For the eighth 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 Dollywood, Ripley Entertainment in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. and Lake Winnepesaukah in Chattanooga, Tenn., 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.   

For a detailed outline of the 2012 winners and survey results, please log on to