The 2021 Golden Ticket Awards presented by Amusement Today magazine gave two of its top honors to the Universal Orlando Resort.
After opting for a different set of awards last year, 2021 saw a return to the more typical Golden Ticket categories. Universal Orlando won the Publisher’s Pick Award for Best of the Year, with Amusement Today noting its status as one as the first to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic and having kept salaried and hourly employees on its payroll longer than other parks (though Universal did institute several rounds of layoffs after reopening).
Another reason it was singled out by the publishers was the fact that it opened a new coaster during the pandemic, rather than delaying new construction or keeping completed rides closed until all COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted. That new ride, Jurassic World VelociCoaster, took home the 2021 Best New Coaster award.
Universal’s archrival Disney won three awards, all for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Because the ride debuted at Disney World in late 2019, it was eligible for awards encompassing both 2020 and 2021, winning Best New Family Attraction, Best Dark Ride and Best New Attraction Installation.
Other winners include Dutch Wonderland, which took home its second straight victory in the Best Family Park category. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania park features 35 rides, attractions and shows, including three roller coasters.
“At Dutch Wonderland, we strive to deliver the best experience possible every day, and it’s such an honor to see our team’s efforts recognized as the Best Family Park,” Dutch Wonderland general manager James Paulding said in a press release. “Thank you to our team members for their commitment, valued guests for their support, and to the Golden Ticket Awards voters that chose Dutch Wonderland.”
Six Flags Fiesta Texas won two awards: Best 2020 Halloween Event for its version of Fright Fest and Best New Show for “Rock the Night.”
“This validates our commitment to giving our guests the absolute best experience regardless of the challenging circumstances,” Six Flags Fiesta Texas park president Jeffrey Siebert said in a statement. “We’re carrying this momentum forward and preparing to unleash the most terrifying Fright Fest ever complete with another dynamic nighttime show, Frightful Finale.”
The Cedar Fair chain claimed two wins: Best Waterpark for Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas — the park’s 23rd win in a row in the category — and the fifth straight win for Carowinds’ Fury 325 in the Best Steel Roller Coaster rankings.
Dollywood claimed the most awards for any single park with four: Most Beautiful Park, Best Kids Area for its Wildwood Grove section, Best Guest Experience, and Best Christmas Event of 2020.
For the full list of winners, head over to Amusement Today.