Every year, American theme park newspaper Amusement Today awards multiple parks, rides and dark rides with their Golden Ticket Awards. This year’s award ceremony was hosted in Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN, U.S.A.) on September 9th. Dollywood won the award for “Best theme park in the world”, but many more awards were rewarded, also to quite a lot of dark rides and show rides.
Considering dark rides, the most anticipated category for the Golden Ticket Awards is obviously ‘Best Dark Ride of 2023’, for which all operating dark rides could be nominated. The top 5 turned out to be:
1. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 2019).
2. Haunted Mansion (Knoebels – 1973).
3. Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol (Lost Island Themepark – 2022).
4. Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! (Disney California Adventure – 2017).
5. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts (Universal Studios Florida – 2014).
Another important category is the one for Best New Family Attraction of 2023, which only contains rides that opened during the past year. This year’s results for that category also included a couple of dark rides, among which the 1st place for Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (Universal Studios Hollywood – 2023). 2nd place is also for a dark ride, with Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Disneyland – 2023). Finally, 5th place was awarded to Treasure Hunt: The Ride (Cannery Row – 2023).
In the category of Best Water Ride of 2023, we can also find quite a lot of (semi-)dark rides. 1st place went to Valhalla (Blackpool Pleasure Beach – 2000) who reclaimed it after its lengthy closure for refurbishment. 2nd place went to semi-dark ride Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls (Universal’s Islands of Adventure – 1999) and 4th place was also given to a semi-dark ride: Timber Mountain Log Flume (Knott’s Berry Farm – 1969).
The earlier mentioned Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge (Universal Studios Hollywood – 2023) also got 2nd place in the ”Best new attraction installation” category. The ”Best new innovation” category gives a 2nd place to Mack Rides for their creation of Eatrenalin (Europa-Park – 2022).