The Golden Ticket Awards; the so-called Oscars of the Industry, surveys a panel of highly knowledgeable theme and amusement park enthusiasts, professionals and suppliers to rank what parks are the best in an ever-growing list of categories. They weigh the best vs. the best on an even playing field regardless of annual attendance so Dollywood is right there with Disney and Europa Park. It also opens up some friendly rivalries and some spirited debates among theme park fans and the parks themselves.
You might remember I explained last year that Dollywood won its first Golden Ticket back in September of 2004 (the awards ceremony is always after Labor Day to help family parks and attractions get past their busiest season or to close for the year before the awards ceremony). Dollywood’s Thunderhead was named a Top 5 Wooden Coaster in the world and was a finalist for best new attraction. The following September, Thunderhead was named the Best Wooden Coaster in the World (won in 2005 and 2006) and Dollywood’s recognition began to grow. As it stands, Thunderhead has never fallen below number ten in the world-wide wooden roller coaster category.
There is pressure to continue to win these awards and to be recognized and Dollywood leaders put added pressure on the park to constantly improve. Dollywood continues to invest and expand the park. In 2019, it will add Wildwood Grove the park’s largest expansion ever with 11 new themed attractions. Additionally, Dollywood has doubled the size and scope of Great Pumpkin Luminights its incredible, nighttime fall event.
I give you the same invitation I shared last season with a Golden Tickets blog: if you have never visited Dollywood, please check it out. Try the cinnamon bread. Eat at Granny Ogles’ Ham and Beans or the Front Porch Café. Ride Wild Eagle (World’s Best New Attraction in 2012), Lightning Rod (2016 Best New Attraction), or Mystery Mine (2007 runner-up to Best New Attraction). Take some time to go see Dreamland Drive-in or Live from the Back Porch. And experience Smoky Mountain Christmas. You will be glad you did.