Kennywood, Idlewild earn fan favorite Golden Ticket awards |
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Shirley McMarlin
Idlewild and SoakZone in Ligonier Township was named Best Children's Park at the 2018 Golden Ticket Awards ceremony held Sept. 8 in Branson, Mo.

Kennywood Park and Idlewild & SoakZone are again ranked among the “best of the best” in the amusement industry, garnering top spots at the Golden Ticket Awards held Sept. 8 in Branson, Mo.

Kennywood’s Noah’s Ark attraction was recognized for the ninth straight year as the world’s best Funhouse/Walk-through Attraction, while Idlewild topped the competition as Best Children’s Park, also for the ninth year running.

The international Golden Ticket Awards are voted on by a panel of theme park aficionados and compiled by industry publication Amusement Today.

“Even with big changes happening at Kennywood in 2018, rare and historic rides like Noah’s Ark are critical to our identity,” says Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. “It’s rewarding to see the hard work of our team pay off with recognition from Golden Ticket Awards voters.”

“Noah’s Ark is just a delight,” says Tim Baldwin, Golden Ticket Awards communications coordinator for Amusement Today. “Kennywood has so many of those old-time, generational attractions that you have to visit when you go there, like the Potato Patch, Thunderbolt, the Jack Rabbit and Noah’s Ark.”

Noah’s Ark took 34 percent of votes in its category. Sixteen percent of voters preferred Idlewild over runners-up Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas (11 percent), and fellow Pennsylvania park, Sesame Place in Langhorne, Bucks County (10 percent).

“Idlewild & SoakZone provides fairy tales, fun rides and Daniel Tiger from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in a day filled with family fun,” according to Amusement Today.

“It’s just a fantastic setting and so welcoming,” Baldwin says about Idlewild. “Picnics in the pavilions, it’s shady. It brings the atmosphere along with the rides. It really is one of a kind.”

Kennywood roller coasters also were fan favorites, with Phantom’s Revenge ranking No. 13 among steel coasters. Thunderbolt came in at No. 15 among wooden coasters and Jack Rabbit took the No. 20 spot.

The West Mifflin park’s Phantom Fright Nights ranked fifth in the Top 5 Best Halloween events in the amusement and theme park world. The Pittsburgh Halloween tradition will begin its 17th season on Sept. 28.

Both parks conclude their summer operating seasons on Sept. 16, with Idlewild’s Hallowboo event for children beginning Sept. 29.

Amusement Today gathers its voting panel from amusement park enthusiasts who visit several parks each year.

“To help keep things balanced, an equal number is divided among four geographical regions of the U.S., and an international segment is also represented,” the website says. The common thread is to find the most experienced, well-traveled park fans out there.”

Park employees and manufacturer representatives are not eligible to vote.

Amusement park lovers who would like to be considered for next year’s panel can email [email protected]

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter @shirley_trib.

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