By | September 12, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCBrooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 12, 2015 – In grand New York fashion and flair, the winners of Amusement Today’s 2015 Golden Ticket Awards were announced this evening during an awards’ show held at Luna Park in Coney Island inside the venerable Gargiulo’s Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom. These prestigious awards annually honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

The poll asks experienced amusement park voters around the country and world to rate the “bests” in 25 categories. While there remained some traditional winners, some new ones emerged. For the first time, Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks in Wildwood, N.J., finished on top for “Best Seaside Park” narrowly inching out Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, Calif., who has held the title since 2007. Also significant, there has been somewhat of a back-and-forth between parks in the categories of “Best Food” and “Best Water Ride” with those awards going back this year to Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England, respectively. The list of 2015 winners are …

Best Amusement Park Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Best Water Park Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park Idlewild & SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
Best Marine Life Park SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, Wildwood, N.J.
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 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 Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Best Water Park 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 Attraction of 2015 – Amusement Park Fury 325 at Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
Best New Attraction of 2015 – Water Park Dive Bomber at Six Flags White Water, Marietta, Ga.
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 Water Park Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction Noah’s Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.

Personally chosen by Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, this year’s Publisher’s Pick Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • (Co)-Person of the Year – Alberto Zamperla and Valerio Ferrari of Zamperla in Boonton, N.J., for their vision, strength and dedication that jump-started the rebirth of the famed Coney Island and saved this historic American treasure;
  • Park of the Year – Lagoon in Farmington, Utah, in its 130th year of operation, for demonstrating commitment to one of America’s oldest amusement parks by always improving the park and preserving a piece of Utah’s history;
  • Turnstile Award – Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., for the park’s foresight and dedication to reinvesting and rebuilding that has resulted in renewed success and record revenues and attendance; and
  • Renaissance Award – Huck Finn’s Playland in Albany, N.Y., for saving the former Hoffman’s Playland and keeping this family tradition alive; plus creating new jobs and continuing to push the redevelopment of what was once a lackluster warehouse district into a more vibrant part of the community.

This year’s Golden Ticket Awards were hosted by Zamperla, a global design and manufacturing company specializing in some of the world’s most exciting and innovative amusement park attractions such as roller coasters, thrill rides, kiddie rides, family rides and tower rides.

For the 11th consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by local parks and attractions – the Coney Island Cyclone, Luna Park in Coney Island, Victorian Gardens and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park – 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 water park news and trends. In its 18-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 2015 winners and survey results, please log on to and click on “Winners.”