Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio was named best amusement park by Amusement Today for the 15th year in a row. (Photo by Cedar Point)
By Laura Bly, USA TODAY
No surprise: For the 15th year in a row, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is the big winner in Amusement Today's annual poll of 500 well-traveled amusement park fanatics.
What's its secret?
"You've got the highest, tallest, longest, fastest in roller coaster technology to choose from. It's a beautiful setting on a peninsula. And what other park has its own marina where you can dock your boat and ride a coaster?" explains Amusement Today's publisher and editor in chief Gary Slade.
The industry publication tracks the best parks in 25 categories, based on detailed surveys sent to a database of 400 dedicated fans in the USA and another 100 overseas (mostly in Europe). And Cedar Point's winning streak notwithstanding, there have been some eye-openers over the years, says Slade.
"All it takes is a few hiccups" - or a concerted effort by a rival - for a longtime winner to slip a notch or two: "We used to think that Holiday World (in Santa Claus, Ind.) would always be the friendliest park," Slade notes, "but this year, Dollywood (in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) ousted them."
The full roster of this year's Golden Ticket Awards:
Best Waterpark - Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Tex.
Best Children's Park - Idlewild and SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
Best Marine Life Park - SeaWorld Orlando
Best Seaside Park - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster - El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
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
Best Landscaping - Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event - Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Food - Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Shows - Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Outdoor Night Show Production - IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Walt Disney World's Epcot, Orlando
Best Water Ride- Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando
Best Waterpark Ride - Wildebeest at Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Dark Ride - Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Orlando
Best New Ride of 2012, Amusement Park - Wild Eagle at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn
.Best New Ride of 2012, Waterpark - Mammoth at Splashin' Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Carousel - Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Indoor Roller Coaster - Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Orlando
Best Indoor Waterpark - Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Tex.
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction- Noah's Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.