Thursday, September 4, 2008

Golden Ticket Award Thoughts

So this past week Amusement Today Announced The 2008 Golden Ticket Award Winners and as usual some things they got right, but most they got very very wrong. I have a heavy dislike for these awards and here were my thoughts on this years debacle:

Ultra Fanboyism
The biggest problem I have with the awards is the voters always vote with what I refer to as "Ultra Fanboyism" in that they vote for the three parks that are the fanboy havens and those are Knoebels, Holiday World and Cedar Point. Now I really don't have too much of an agruement with CP taking home a lot of awards, because that is a world class park with an incredible collection of rides, my issue is mainly with the other two. Now don't get me wrong I have enjoyed my visits to Holiday World and Knoebels, but I like them for what they are smaller scale regional parks. These parks get way more love then they deserve in the coaster community for a number of reasons, being a good value, being family owned, offering 'free' soda (thats not actually free, but rather worked into the admission price) having a PR person that post on message boards, or being old fashioned with old fashioned rides, but I don't think either one should be considered with the best in the world. Neither of these parks have attractions (with the exception of Voyage in the wood coaster category) that should be ranked best in the world. The parks get a lot of votes for things they don't deserve such as Cleanest/Friendliest/Best Food, not because they are deserving of these awards, but because the fanboys pick the parks that are there 'friends'. A few awards are clear examples of this one being the Best Waterpark, Holiday World won this award completely undeserving (EDIT CORRECTION: Splashin Safari got 2nd place), its a nice waterpark but not 'World Class' it is largely unthemed and most slides at the park are stock and can be found at most major parks, there is nothing about it that stands out, if it wasn't at Holiday World it wouldn't be close. The other one that angers me is Knoebels getting 3rd place in the 'Best Halloween Event' THEY DON'T DO ANYTHING. They have a haunted car ride THATS IT. How is that better then events like Hallowscream at the Busch Parks or Halloween Horror Nights on the West Coast, Hell No.

Lack of International Parks
For an awards that claim to be the "Best Of The Best" sure seems like the best of the USA. I guess the ballots must only go out to this country or something cause international parks get very little love. I mean don't you think something like the incredible looking Tokyo DisneySea be up there with Cedar Point or how about this Incredible Looking Waterpark In Siam I would much rather spend a day there then at Schlitterbahn or Splashin Safari. Of course these parks wouldn't be considered "Best Of The Best" because there voters haven't been there, which isn't a problem with the parks, its a problem with their system.

No Love For Disney/Universal
The Disney & Universal Parks have the highest attendence of the parks in the world, they spend far more money on attractions then anyone else, but get no love. I can't figure this one out, I mean is these are truley incredible places, maybe it because the voters are 'Coaster Enthusiasts' and don't really care for theming or a hundred million dollar dark ride. Look at it this way take 100 people off the street and put them on Knoebels Haunted Mansion and then put them on Disneyland's Indiana Jones Adventure, which one is going to be the overwhelming favorite?

Confusion On The Criteria
I have to say I am quite confused on the criteria on how people are supposed to vote. When someone is voting for 'Best Park' what exactly are they supposed to be voting based upon, attractions and operations are the obvious ones, but what about things like price? Are people supposed to vote on which park is great or which presents the best value? I am also confused by some of the categories like 'Best Kids Area' is this supposed to be the best singular kids area like the Nickelodean area of Kings Island or the park with the best overall kids areas I mean places like SFGAm & SFGAdv have 4 different ones. The same goes for 'Best Outdoor Night Production' do you vote based on park or by the show, I mean Magic Kingdom has SpectroMagic & Wishes, Disneyland has Remember & Fantasmic do you vote for the show or park?

Surprising Amount Of Love For Hard Rock Park
Apparentely all 40 people that went to Hard Rock Park this past season also are Golden Ticket voters. The two things I really want to do at the park & the two parts that got the best reviews, Bohemian Rhapsody & Nights In White Satin The Trip both did well. Good for HRP, they could probably use some good news.

Lack Of Change
The same parks tend to win the same categories year after year (deserving or not). I have to think over the past 10 years things like park with the best shows & best park probalby should have transferred hands a few times, but not in these awards. Is this because the voters are stuck in their ways or they just don't get out enough??

Whats The Impact?
If you look at any of the major Coaster Message boards the Golden Ticket Awards are pretty much blown off as biased unchaning BS and deservedly so. The awards that are the closet thing the Theme Park World has to the Oscars has become a complete farce. The only people that seem to take any stock in these awards are the PR people that can slap things like 'Best Shows' or 'Best Food' even though I bet in their mind, they know there not.

How To Fix It?
There really is no good way to acurately determine which is the best. I know the Golden Ticket Awards way of doing things as a popularity contest among biased isn't the way to go. I really think there are two much better ways of doing things, the first would be having a much more complicated ballot and intricate award algorithm such as used in the Mitch Hawkers Polls. The other option would be to have a panel of experts that visit every single park, every single year that could unbiasedly determine the "Best Of The Best".

Now I bet a lot of you are thinking "Hey Pat McCabe, How Would You Vote?"
So here would be what my Ballot would look like if I had one, and I wouldn't be an accurate voter as I have only been to parks in the US & Canada, so I am only gonna make picks in this country and only pick from places I have been:

Best New Ride
Toy Story Mania
The Simpsons Ride
Steel Hawg
(The only other new ride I got on this year was Dark Knight, I might try Evel Knevel this weekend)

Best Park
Magic Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios

Best Waterpark
Typhoon Lagoon
Blizzard Beach
Splish Splash

Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom

Magic Kingdom
Hollywood Studios

Best Food
Busch Gardens Europe

Best Water Ride
Splash Mountain
Popeye & Bluto Bilge Rat Barges
Dudley Do Right Ripsaw Falls
(I would vote Pirates @ Disneyland, if that qualifies)

Best Waterpark Ride
Aztec Adventure
Any Tornado Slide
Any Behemoth Bowl

Best Landscaping
Animal Kingdom
Busch Gardens Europe

Best Outdoor Night Production
Disneyland (Fantasmic & Remember)
Magic Kingdom (Spectro & Wishes)
Disneys Hollywood Studios

Best Indoor Coaster
Mummy Orlando
Space Mountain Disneyland
Rock & Roller Coaster

Best Funhouse
Noahs Ark
Frankensteins Castle
(Can't seem to think of a 3rd)

Best Dark Ride
Indiana Jones Adventure
Tower Of Terror (Florida)
Amazing Adventures Of Spiderman

Best Wood Coaster
El Toro
Lightning Racer

Best Steel Coaster
Millenium Force

See I have a tough time saying what is the "Best of the Best" I can only vote for the "Best I've Done". I hope you guys enjoyed my thoughts on this years Golden Tickets.


Paula Werne, Holiday World PR said...

Just wanted to clarify that Schlitterbahn was once again voted the #1 Water Park -- and congrats to them for that!

Pat McCabe said...

^ Whoops, correction made, it was second best.