What might be considered the Academy Awards for theme parks just wrapped up right here in East Tennessee. Dollywood hosted the 2012 Amusement Today Golden Ticket Awards on September 7th and 8th. In the end, Tennessee’s number one private attraction racked up five of the coveted awards voted on by theme park enthusiasts around the world.
The folks at Dollywood have been flying high all season long with the addition of Wild Eagle. This 20-million dollar ride was the first wing rider roller coaster in the country and at the time it opened, one of only two in the world. Golden Ticket Award voters chose Wild Eagle as the top new ride in the world with 30% of the vote. Mater and Lightning McQueen’s Radiator Springs ride at Disney’s California Adventure came in second with 15%.
It’s no secret that Disney World boasts being the friendliest place on Earth, but when it comes to the Golden Ticket Awards, Dollywood has its own bragging rights. The theme park was voted the “friendliest” in the world with 46% of the vote. It’s sister theme park, Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO came in third with Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN coming in second.
Friendly service and great food go hand in hand, at least that seems to be the case for Dollywood. From Aunt Granny’s and Miss Lilian’s Chicken House, to the Backstage Restaurant and Granny Ogle’s Ham n’ Beans, it is difficult to walk through Dollywood without having a craving for something good to eat. This year, Golden Ticket voters rated the park as having the best food.
While shows like Sha-kon-o-hey have had their final run, Dollywood still remains a big show park. Productions like Dreamland Drive-In and special productions throughout the year have the park coming in at number one for shows, garnering 45% of the vote. Six Flags Fiesta in Texas was number two with 15%.
Last, but not least, Dollywood once again brought home the Golden Ticket for Best Christmas Event. A Smoky Mountain Christmas features large stage productions, special foods, and millions of lights. Last year, Dollywood added an ice skating stage show to the mix.
In other categories, Dollywood came in third for Best Park and placed second for Cleanest Park. Next year, a new water roller coaster gets added to the mix at Splash Country. Could it be a contender for a Golden Ticket Award? You’ll have to wait until next year to find out.