Amusement Today bestows 2022 Golden Ticket Awards in 27 categories

By | September 10, 2022

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — On September 10, during a live event at San Antonio’s Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Amusement Today released the results of its international poll known as the Golden Ticket Awards. Started in 1998, the Golden Ticket Awards were established by Amusement Today to shine a spotlight on the amusement park industry and attractions by recognizing the “Best of the Best.” Today, they are among the most sought-after awards among theme parks, amusement parks, family entertainment centers and water parks.

“It was amazing to return to an in-person networking event,” said Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator, Amusement Today. “While online presentations the last two years enabled us to still recognize the great accomplishments in our industry, meeting with peers and colleagues face to face is invaluable. We needed this. It’s heartwarming to honor these places and the people continuing to bring fun and smiles in a time when things are still uncertain.”

A welcome reception took place on Friday, Sept. 9, at Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first ultra-accessible amusement park. Networking opportunities continued on Sept. 10 at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, including the announcement of the award winners.

In addition to 23 categories voted on by the world’s most experienced park aficionados, industry journalists and ride suppliers, five special awards were given to recognize significant contributions that exhibit perseverance and leadership.

“The Publisher’s Picks are always deeply felt by Amusement Today. These recognitions are for things that could easily go unnoticed but are a direct result of someone ‘doing the right thing,’” said AT Publisher Gary Slade. “Forward-thinking decisions continue to happen. For us to be able to spotlight that is a very rewarding experience.”

Kennywood was bestowed the Publisher’s Pick: Renaissance Award for bringing back a beloved — and very historic — ride from the past. The Kangaroo was the only surviving ride of its type in North America. Six Flags Fiesta Texas reinvented a 22-year-old attraction, bringing new life to the launched coaster, Poltergeist. This creative movement is carried through to the park’s entertainment and latest attractions, prompting Amusement Today to honor the park with the Publisher’s Pick: Turnstile Award. Kings Island’s excellent celebration of the park’s 50th anniversary and all its innovations within five decades was recognized as Publisher’s Pick: Park of the Year.

Also during the event, a pair of industry icons were recognized for their lifetime of achievements by being declared Golden Ticket Awards LEGENDS. Paul and Alethea Roads were the founders of Wonderland Park in Amarillo. Through their success in building a handful of kiddie rides into a full traditional amusement park, the Roads developed relationships in the industry that cultivated the sharing of knowledge and best practices among similar small-park owners across the country. Dick Knoebel’s determination has made Knoebels Amusement Resort one of the most highly regarded traditional parks in the country, if not the world. His efforts of preservation, his devotion to family and his creative drive made him the second recipient of the Legend award at the ceremony.

The Golden Ticket Awards core categories were announced as well, live from the Zaragoza Theater at Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

In the categories for new rides, Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol at Lost Island Theme Park won Best New Family Attraction. Best New Attraction in a Water Park went to Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park for Medusa’s Slide Wheel, the first of its type in North America. Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay was the clear winner for Best New Roller Coaster.

Phantasialand in Germany took Best Water Ride for the first time with its amazing flume ride, Chiapas. Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari has a stranglehold on Best Water Park Ride with Wildebeest winning for an 11th time.

Jeffrey Siebert, park president of Six Flags Fiesta Texas, was presented the Leadership award. Sister park, Six Flags Over Texas claimed honors with the Best New Show Golden Ticket.

Dollywood achieved more wins than any other park with three: Best Guest Experience, Best Christmas Event and Best Kids’ Area.

Best Innovation went to VLocker for its dual-sided lockers that provides riders a place for all loose articles that can be lost while riding before boarding and retrieve them from the other side after riding.

Two longtime winners had seen its awards slip through their fingers in 2021 and regained the gold this year. Busch Gardens reclaimed Most Beautiful Park and Universal Studios snatched its claws around Best Halloween Event once again.

Meow Wolf Convergence Station was selected as the Breakout FEC. The artsy facility combines family entertainment mixed with wonder and engagement.

Hundreds of roller coaster devotees voted on their Top Ten favorites. The resulting figures found Fury 325 at Carowinds remaining at the top of the Steel category now for seven seasons in a row, and Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort as Best Wooden Coaster for the fourth consecutive year.

Walt Disney World snagged two awards: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios won Best Dark Ride for a second year. EPCOT’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind was chosen as Best New Ride Installation.

Repeat winners were Knoebels Amusement Resort for Best Food, SeaWorld Orlando for Best Wildlife/Marine Life Park, Dutch Wonderland for Best Family Park, and Schlitterbahn for Best Water Park (undefeated for 24 years). The final award was Best Park, which went to Germany’s Europa-Park for an eighth consecutive win.

Amusement Today began publication in 1997, and the award-winning magazine is now a leader among the amusement industry. The Golden Ticket Awards were established in 1998 and are the direct result of votes cast from around the globe. More than 500 experienced travelers, divided equally among the nation as well as internationally, received ballots. Industry journalists and ride suppliers also have categories devoted to professional topics. A free downloadable issue containing the charts and full lists of finalists can be found at