Exploring the 2021 Golden Ticket Awards by Amusement Today

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This year, Amusement Today resumed their traditional award bestowing from the drastic changes the Pandemic has had on the Theme park industry. Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards Communications Coordinator, Amusement Today said, “The climate last year caused us to step away from our traditional categories, but with the industry re-emerging this season, there is so much hard work taking place. It’s heartwarming to honor these places and the people striving to bring fun and smiles in a time when it is so desperately needed.”

Amusement Today began as a publication in 1997 covering amusement parks, theme parks, water parks and family entertainment centers all throughout the United States and all over the world! A year later in 1998 they started the Golden Ticket awards highlighting the best roller coaster (wooden and steel), best water ride, Best Theme park, best family park and best guest experience to list a few. Amusement Today has been a leader among the amusement world through their attention to detail and expertise. 

A beautiful local guest experience

This year Dollywood has won a number of awards including: Best Guest Experience, Best Landscape and Best Christmas Event in 2020. Not only has this park been recognized by Amusement Today but is in the top ten of TripAdvisors “Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards” (https://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice) for worldwide theme parks. 

From winning awards for Best Landscaping and Best Kid’s area, it has also created a scene for the guest’s to have an unforgettable experience when they are visiting Dollywood Parks and Resorts. Including holiday events like their Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin Luminights; they are tailoring the visit to the season while making it a unique and enjoyable visit for all. Sometimes there is a bit of confusion between Guest Experience and Guest Engagement, here a way to remember the difference. Guest Experience is “process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something”. For amusement parks that guest experience could begin in your home, while on your computer trying to navigate the website to book tickets for your next vacation or themeing every small detail at the attraction. Guest Engagement is “occupy the attention or efforts of; to attract and hold fast.” Amusement parks have many different spots where they want the guests to engage, like a character photo opportunity or a parade where all the favorite characters walk by are just a few examples. 

A thrilling Guest Experience

Switching gears to the more thrilling part of Theme parks is the Best New Roller Coaster: Jurassic World Velocicoaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. This experience doesn’t begin when their roller coaster takes off, no the full experience starts with the cue line, passing velociraptors rattling in their cages, making it feel like you are just walking through the real movie. The ride isn’t only the Best New Roller coaster this year because of the Jurassic Park theme but also because of the design of the ride itself. Jeff Polk, Senior Vice President of Operations at Universal Orlando said “the collaboration between Universal Creative and the visionary filmmakers aided to the success of ride and experience.

When you go, Universal’s Islands of Adventure is a space where you are free to be yourself. Throughout the park, when you visit the different “islands” you can travel from the Harry Potter’s Wizarding World on to Jurassic Park, Dr. Seuss Landing and more! There are thematic details that fill the space and make you feel that you are traveling to different worlds when visiting. 

While reading through all of the 2021 Golden Ticket winners and nominees, inspiration will come and will put these theme parks on the top of your bucket list. This Fall with cooler weather and less crowds, is the perfect time to go!





Courtney Mallory Riall

Courtney Mallory Riall

Courtney Mallory is a Global Project Coordinator based in Jeju, South Korea. Her academic background is in Event and Hospitality management; and most of her career has focused on domestic and international conference and meeting planning for associations in Washington D.C. Her current projects involve connecting clients’ projects with international consultants at Doitwell.

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