by: Hope McAlee
Posted: Sep 9, 2023 / 08:05 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 9, 2023 / 09:51 PM EDT
Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards held its 25th year ceremony at Dollywood at 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 9. The awards themselves have become known as “the Oscars of the amusement industry” according to Amusement Today.
The Golden Ticket Awards recognize the best of the best in amusement parks, including categories for the best water ride, most beautiful park, best wooden coaster, best new family attractions, and much more.
This year, Dollywood received it’s 15th consecutive Golden Ticket Award for the Best Christmas Event for Smoky Mountain Christmas. The park also took home four other awards, including:
For the last eight years, the award for Best Park had been held by Europa-Park in Rust, Germany. Adding to it’s accolades, Dollywood also took maintained it’s clean sweep Best Guest Experience category, which was first created in 2019, and earned it’s fourth consecutive award for Best Kids’ Area with Wildwood Grove.
Dollywood also earned Golden Ticket Awards for the Best Family Coaster with Big Bear Mountain and Best Guest Experience.
Tim Baldwin, Communications Coordinator for Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, explained why Dollywood continues to rack up more wins than any other park in the world.
“It is a stellar year for Dollywood — its best performance yet,” Baldwin said. “As a finalist in nine categories and taking a record five Golden Tickets, the park has accomplished something notably amazing. For them to unseat the long-time winner for Best Park has to be exciting for everyone involved there. Like its predecessor, Dollywood slowly climbed the ranks over the last ten years and has finally nudged itself up from the second-place position. The expansion of Wildwood Grove with the addition of Big Bear Mountain has paid off. The park knows its audience, and it continues to make forward-thinking decisions that guests love.”
Dolly Parton was in attendance at the awards ceremony, where she accepted the award for Best Park and performed her iconic song, “9 to 5.”
Dolly Parton and her business partners, Jack and Peter Herschend of Herscend Family Entertainment, were honored with the Industry Legends Golden Ticket Award. The partnership between Parton and Hershend Family Entertainment created Dollywood from the former Silver Dollar City Tennessee theme park in the mid 1986.
Amusement Today has been recognizing individuals, facilities, and attractions that set the standard for excellence and being the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry with the Legend award for the last two decades. Each recipient of the award is given a special Golden Ticket to illustrate the renowned status and have their achievement on display at all future Golden Ticket Award Events, Amusement Today says.
“We’re so proud to have the Golden Ticket Awards here at Dollywood this year,” Dolly said. “This award ceremony is so very special and I think Dollywood is special too, so I think it’s great we were able to host the event here. We don’t do what we do to earn awards, but we’re not going to turn them down either,” she added with a laugh. “Seriously though, our teams work hard to make sure our guests enjoy their time at Dollywood, and these awards honoring what they do sure make me happy because they are getting the recognition they deserve.
The Golden Ticket Awards are held at a different theme park each year. The last time they were held in Dollywood was in 2012.
Dollywood has had an extensive history with the Golden Ticket Awards, taking home three Golden Ticket Awards in 2022 and four in 2021.
While the festivities began on Friday with Golden Ticket Award attendees visiting Dollywood and enjoying an opening reception at Big Bear Mountain, the event wrapped up Saturday evening with the Wildwood Tree show and ridge on Thunderhead, Drop Line and Mystery Mine.