Amusement Today’s 2013 Golden Ticket Awards were announced last month. If you’ve been following them for a few years, then you’ll already know most of the results. You may not know the winner, but you’ll likely know much of the top 5 for each category. Year after year most of the same theme parks and rides are chosen. They just shift in order a bit. Having said that, I’ve never really analyzed or discussed with you why these parks are consistently rated so highly.

And while I generally focus on roller coaster rankings, this year I thought I’d take a look at the amusement park categories like best food, best kids areas, best water parks, etc. For this post let’s discuss the cleanest and friendliest parks that won and were top contenders.

What are the Cleanest Amusement Parks?

Don’t underestimate how much tidiness can affect your enjoyment at a theme park. This is probably one of those things you don’t notice unless it’s a problem, but these parks were considered especially clean by the voters.

[notice noticeType=”approved” ]2013 Golden Ticket Awards – The Cleanest Amusement Parks
Holiday World Santa Claus, Ind. 26% (Winner)
Dollywood Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 14%
Disneyland Anaheim, Calif. 10%
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Williamsburg, Va. 9%
Silver Dollar City Branson, Mo. 8.50%[/notice]

Holiday World - Christmas and Halloween Areas - Cleanest Amusement Parks
I’ve been to four of these five parks (all except for Disneyland) and I’d have to agree. From what I remember these parks were exceptionally clean. It’s been years since I’ve visited Holiday World, but I’ve been to the other three in the past year and I’d have to agree, they are some of the cleanest amusement parks I’ve encountered.

Go Off the Beaten Path to Find the Friendliest Amusement Parks

[notice noticeType=”approved” ]2013 Golden Ticket Awards – The Friendliest Amusement Parks
Dollywood Pigeon Forge, Tenn. 35% (Winner)
Holiday World Santa Claus, Ind. 21%
Silver Dollar City Branson, Mo. 13%
Knoebel’s Elysburg, Pa. 10%
Six Flags New England Agawam, Mass. 7%[/notice]

The small town, down-home feel of Dollywood, Holiday World, Silver Dollar City and Knoebels might give them a bit of built-in leg up. Obviously, good management and strong standards are needed, but geography might also play a role in this. It’s that slower pace of life that might bleed into how the workers and ride operators go about their day at these parks. To some degree, it takes time to be friendly. Not much, but it does take some time. Not to generalize or stereotype, but “city folk” often have a faster pace of doing everything.

Silver Dollar City and Dollywood are sister parks under Herschend, so I’m not surprised to see them both listed. Brad Thomas and the staff were great and the guests that I met there were very friendly as I joined a few families when I was grouped with them on rides like WildFire. And, I love how Dollywood’s ride operators (especially one in particular for Thunderhead) are so personable.

I remember specifically, a woman who worked at Holiday World striking up a conversation with me while I was eating alone at the park. You don’t feel like their just doing their job and moving you through the queue or taking your money and shoving a receipt your way.

The park that stands out in this list is Six Flags New England. I’ve been to the park and while I don’t remember having the same experiences that I’ve had at the aforementioned parks, I do have a positive overall memory of SFNE. I’d like to hear what experiences you’ve had as I’m sure a lot of you have been to Six Flags New England, if not the rest of the rides on this list.

What’s Your Take?
What do you think of these results? Do you agree? Are these some of the cleanest and friendliest amusement parks you’ve been to? What parks would you add? Leave a comment below.

9 Responses

  1. Susan

    I’ve been to all these parks with the exception of Disneyland. I absolutely agree with this list. AND for a SF park to be on it that’s incredible. I might mention that we visited another SF (StL) that could also be here on Friendliest Park. Theidwest parks are great for that. What it lacked was the clean element. GrAm was similar.

  2. Mak

    Canobie lake park is very friendly and clean. It is WAY cleaner and espessaly friendlier than SFNE. I completely agree with Disneyland

  3. Eric

    Dollywood is the namesake of country music singer/song writer Dolly Parton. I’ve never really visited Dollywood, nor have I ever visited Disney, Cedar Fair, Busch Garden, or SeaWorld owned theme park.

    I’ve only visited one Six Flags owned theme park off and on since age 7… Six Flags Over Georgia. To me, SFOG is a very decent park… clean and friendly… nice collection of rides. Hope that SFOG receives 12th coaster in 2015.

  4. Rajan

    I have been to disneyland and it is very clean. I think gilroy gardens should be on at least one of the lists. The park has no garbage on the ground.

  5. ethan

    So hard to find CLEAN parks. On almost every ride I have ever been on, some hooligan either put gum on the walls or graffiti.

    • paul

      well I know at my home park (Carowinds) at one point there was a gum roof where we stuck gum on in the quene of the the Hurler roller coaster for many many years it was anything that was to be considered nasty it was soething that u did like going to logans and throw peanut shells on the ground or is longhorn? but when cedar fair took over they cleaned it off lol

  6. Zach

    This isn’t about cleanliness but just park operations but when I was at cedar point in the summer i rode blue streak and the ride op stopped us on the lift hill because some fool had his phone out texting on the ride.

  7. Matt McIrvin

    Don’t know about Disneyland, but I can say that the Walt Disney World parks seemed extremely clean when I visited last weekend, especially the Magic Kingdom.

    Busch Gardens Williamsburg is definitely up there.

    I’ve always liked the ambiance at Canobie Lake, not just because it’s my home park.


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