Every year in September, the staff of Amusement Today presents its annual awards for the best of the best in the field of theme park tourism. Their Golden Ticket Awards are so prestigious that many industry insiders refer to them as the Academy Awards of thrill rides. The 2015 voting is now in the books, as several park operators have triumphed. You’ll hear about their achievements in all of their promotional advertising over the next twelve. Here are the six biggest winners at the Golden Ticket Awards as well as one remarkable “loser.”
1. Fury 325
I previously discussed this steel roller coaster as one of the most anticipated rides of 2015, and voters clearly agreed. This anchor attraction at Carowinds was named the Best New Attraction for the year, almost doubling the voting total of the second place finisher, Wicked Cyclone at Six Flags New England. It also debuted in fourth place in the even more vaunted category of Best Steel Roller Coaster, narrowly missing the top three by a few points.
The launch of Fury 325 didn’t go as smoothly as park owners Cedar Fair might have hoped, as the ride suffered a couple of infamous breakdowns. Still, the $30 million gamble on a thrill ride has paid early dividends. Fury 325 is already considered one of the best roller coasters in the world after only a few months of operation.
2. Millennium Force
In chronicling the voting for last year’s Best Steel Roller Coaster top selections, I noted Amusement Today’s passion for this ride. During its 16 years in existence, Millennium Force has NEVER finished lower than second place in the voting for the category. 2015 becomes the sixth straight year that voters consider the pride of Cedar Point the Best Steel Roller Coaster in the world.
In a weird way, the continued dominance of Millennium Force is also a credit to Fury 325. That ride is the only one built after 2001 that earned a spot in the top five, which shows that the voters are somewhat set in their ways. It also proves that the $25 million Cedar Fair invested in the world’s greatest roller coaster is one of the savviest investments in theme park history.
As for Cedar Point, they’re not resting on their past achievements. Their most recently announced roller coaster, Valravn, will break ten (!) world records when it debuts in 2016.
3. Boulder Dash
When people think of Bristol, Connecticut, the first thing that springs in their mind is ESPN, the sports network that dominates the cable landscape. Not that far away from its central studio is Lake Compounce, one of the most underrated theme parks in North America.
The signature attraction here is Boulder Dash, a relatively frugal $6 million dollar wooden roller coaster that has sustained its popularity for almost 15 years and counting. For the third consecutive year, voters chose Boulder Dash as the Best Wooden Roller Coaster in the world. It’s the fourth time overall that Boulder Dash has won this category, but the recent surge in popularity is attributable to track changes made between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Since then, Boulder Dash has evolved into one of the most popular theme park rides in the world. Considering the fact that you can get a season pass to Lake Compounce for only $50, it’s an amazing value for an attraction of this quality.