Disney Wins Some at the Golden Ticket Awards…But Mostly Loses
Are you familiar with The Golden Ticket Awards? Longtime MickeyBlog readers are, as we have updated with results each year.
For those who aren’t, Amusement Today introduced these awards in 1998.
During the quarter-century that has followed, The Golden Tickets have evolved into the theme park equivalent of The Academy Awards.
Winning a Golden Ticket earns prestige and admiration within the industry.
However, as I’ve noted before, these awards come with a kind of anti-Disney bias.
The most successful theme park company in the world rarely does well, which is maddening.
Last week, Amusement Today awarded the 2022 Golden Tickets. So, how did Disney do? Not great…
Disney Wins Best New Attraction Installation
If you’re only going to win one Golden Ticket, this is one of the categories that matter the most. Thankfully, Disney won more than one, though.
Anyway, Best New Attraction Installation is a wordy way of saying “Best New Ride.”
That’s what Disney won, which was frankly a no-brainer. Earlier this year, Disney opened Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Depending on the voting dates, two other attractions likely qualify. Those are WEBSLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
I’m not entirely sure whether either was eligible, though. WEBSLINGERS debuted on June 4th, 2021, which means it probably just missed the cut.
The VelociCoaster opened on June 10th, 2021, and it won the Best New Roller Coaster category last year. However, it soft-opened in April.
As for Ratatouille, I don’t know how the rules work for duplicate attractions. If it was eligible, it would have done well, but another Ratatouille ride already exists.
So, that left Disney with one clear-cut candidate: Cosmic Rewind. The world’s first storytelling coaster has blown away guests with its immersion.
Even better, the music you hear on the ride is random. Somehow, this changes the vibe.
Six different rock music songs rotate, which gives you half a dozen different versions of Cosmic Rewind. Audiences love that variance.
Meanwhile, Golden Tickets voters are usually harder to impress. They ride many attractions around the world each year. So, they get a bit jaded.
Even the most cynical theme park fan experiences a wow factor during their first ride on Cosmic Rewind.
While people enjoy WEBSLINGERS and love the 4D elements on Ratatouille, nothing else approaches Cosmic Rewind.
Notably, Disney has won this category two years in a row. Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance took the Golden Ticket for 2020/2021.
Disney’s Other Win
I’m gritting my teeth as I type this. In a previous Golden Ticket update, I pointed out the voting methodology that hurts Disney.
Voters tend to laud theme parks and attractions that are hidden gems rather than E-ticket heavyweights. So, Disney has struggled lately.
Still, the company managed one other win. Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure took the title of Best Dark Ride.
The Shanghai Disneyland attraction has won this category three straight times and never finished lower than fourth.
This seems like a good time to mention that anything that wins 10 consecutive Golden Ticket awards retires the category.
Disney famously achieved this feat with IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth.
Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida similarly shut down Best Indoor Roller Coaster.
Now, the modernized Pirates of the Caribbean in China is unquestionably the gold standard among dark rides.
This isn’t a new situation for Disney. For all the oversights in other Golden Ticket categories, Disney dominates Best Dark Ride.
For 2022, three of the top four vote-getters reside at Disney theme parks.
Rise of the Resistance and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye finished second and fourth, respectively.
Another titan in this category, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, failed to place in 2022. However, it has won the category several times.
Disney invented the dark ride, and the company has continued its mastery of this ride concept.
The Miscarriages of Justice
Here’s the thing about democracy. Each of us gets one vote. While I don’t have a vote in the Golden Tickets, I would have gone a different way with several categories.
For example, Europa-Park won Best Amusement Park, which is fine, I guess. Technically, Disney is a theme park, not an amusement park.
Still, Europa-Park has imitated Disney repeatedly and even operates a Spaceship Earth clone. So, why would voters reward the imitator over the original?
Best Kids’ Area and Best Guest Experience Golden Tickets went to Dollywood, as did Best Christmas Event.
I live 45 minutes from Dollywood, yet I visit Walt Disney World multiple times each year. I do this because Disney is better, especially in those areas.
Well, Dollywood gives Disney a run for its money at Christmas, but I’d still give the edge to the place with hotel lobby gingerbread houses.
Also, Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay won Best New Roller Coaster.
I don’t agree with the distinction between this category and the one Cosmic Rewind won.
The other subject that triggers my outrage is the Top 50 Steel Roller Coaster rankings. Expedition Everest doesn’t make an appearance.
I’m not going to call out any particular ride. Still, I’ve ridden a few that made the top 50 that couldn’t even touch Expedition Everest in terms of quality.
Frankly, I’d be a lot more annoyed by this year’s Golden Tickets if I didn’t remember the obvious.
Parks were running at half-mast for most of the year. So I don’t blame voters for having some hiccups this year.
Disney operates the best theme parks on the planet. Some other parks barely survived the pandemic. They probably need the love more.
Let’s hope Disney wins more than two Golden Tickets next year, though.
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Feature Photo: Amusement Today