Golden Ticket Awards – My Take on the Top Wooden Coasters

Roller Coaster News

The 2011 Golden Ticket Awards were announced recently. The awards are based on votes received by Amusement Today. There are awards given out in a number of categories from Best Park (Cedar Point) to Park with Best Kids’ Area (Kings Island) to Best Food (Knoebels). I generally only recap the top steel and wooden coasters as that’s what I’m most interested in.

Here are the best wooden roller coasters in the World according to Amusement Today’s 2011 Golden Ticket Awards:

1 The Voyage* – Holiday World (Indiana) 1st in ’10
Phoenix* – Knoebels Amusement Resort (Pennsylvania) 3rd in ’10
El Toro* – Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey) 2nd in ’10
4 Boulder Dash* – Lake Compounce (Connecticut) 4th in ’10
5 Thunderhead* – Dollywood (Tennessee) 5th in ’10
6 Ravine Flyer II* – Waldameer (Pennsylvania) 6th in ’10
7 The Beast* – Paramount’s Kings Island (Ohio) 7th in ’10
Hades* – Mt. Olympus Theme Park (Wisconsin) 8th in ’10
9 Shivering Timbers at Michigan’s Adventure (Michigan) 11th in ’10
10 Prowler at Worlds of Fun (Missouri) 12th in ’10
*=Coasters that I’ve ridden.

As you can see, there hasn’t been a whole lot of movement in the top 10 this year. Actually, there’s probably been a bit more this year The Voyage at Holiday Worldthan there has been in some years where it has been almost the exact same 10 coasters just slightly shifted around. This year Holiday World’s Raven (9th in 2010) and Hersheypark’s Lightning Racer (10th in 2010) fell just out of the top ten to 11th and 12th respectively.

I’ve been wondering for a few years now if El Toro will ever overtake The Voyage. Both are deserving of the top spot in my opinion. I feel like the woodie purists out there would never give an Intamin pre-fab with it’s unnatural precise and smooth ride the votes needed climb to number one. I don’t really have a problem with any of these coasters being in the top 10, although I haven’t ridden Shivering Timbers and Prowler. I do wonder if the participants who voted for Hades would do so if they rode it recently. It sounds like it’s been getting extremely rough.

See the entire list of the best wooden roller coasters according to the 2011 Golden Ticket Awards.

View the top 10 wooden and steel roller coasters of 2010 based on last year’s GTA results.

What’s Your Take?
Have you ridden any of these top woodies? Do you think the voters got it right? Leave a comment below. Image courtesy of CoasterImage

Founder of My favorite coasters are B&M hypers and gigas. I'm also a huge fan of terrain roller coasters.


  1. I don't understand The Beast STILL being on this list. It's on the very bootom of my all time coaster list, wood or metal. No air, boring and rough enough to consider litigation or bringing assault charges. This hideous thing hasn't been a contender in over two decades. I'm believing now that the people who vote it in have never been to another park other than Kings Island. Who are they paying off?

  2. So the people who vote for this top 10 dont actually have to have ridden the coaster they are voting for within the year? Thats totally stupid.

    • I need to confirm that, but I think that's right. It might be kind of hard to limit the voting to just rides you've ridden that year. I'm starting to realize that while people have issues with the GTA's, it'd be darn near impossible to create the perfect poll.

      • yeh it would be near impossible but surely the people voting should have ridden the ride within the past 2 or 3 years. They should just get the people to give the rides they have ridden recently a score out of 10 and then average it out and the 10 best scores are the 10 best of that year, i think that would be the fairest.

  3. Ive been on prowler and it is a great ride its my 2 next to Hades but those are the only top 10 ive been on.

  4. I cant believe Phoenix passed el toro and took el toro's number 2 spot. Phoenix is a nice, fun ride but cant come close to el toro. El Toro, in my opinion, should be at number one. Ive never ridden the voyage, but ive heard it is a bit rough, and I much prefer smooth coasters like el toro. I can't understand why wooden "purists" don't like el toro. Yeah, its not a classical woodie, but it is smoother, and more intense than any other woodie out there probrably. And to those "purists", el toro is made from all wood, voyage has steel supports, so if they like voyage better for the reason of being a typical wood coaster, then they are wrong because typical wood coasters don't have steel supports. I really want to ride the voyage, but until it gets timberliners it seems that el toro would be the better ride for its smoothness. Oh, and lightning racer is awesome and should be in the top 10 still.

  5. Im suprised about how little the list changed from last year. For me, Boulder Dash is my #1 wooden coaster, and I'm happy to see that it's still in the top 5.

  6. I've only been on Thunderhead, Ravine Flyer II, and the Beast in the top ten but still I think the Beast may be ranked a bit high. Too much trimming as of late, I think it's good but definately not top ten material. Also, Tremors at Silverwood all the way down at 31 behind Ghost Rider? What are they smoking?

  7. Every year the geeks (including myself) pummel the GTA's. I'm starting to realize that we 1) shouldn't be surprised by the results and 2) that while I don't agree with it completely, it's probably a pretty good list considering who's being polled. I might have to write a post about it for Theme Park Geekly.

  8. What about the GCI coaster at Knight Valley in China? That looks much better than Prowler and a couple of others.

  9. Don't have too many experiences with woodies, but objectively El Toro might be the best coaster I've been on PERIOD. Incredibly smooth, insane first drop, and moment after moment of extreme EJECTOR AIR! Then a nice twisty finish to boot. Don't know what else you can ask for out of a woodie…

  10. You know, over the years it gotten nearly impossible for me to even try to rank all of the coasters I've been on. I know which ones I like, love, dislike or even outright hate (THE BEAST! OUCH! LOL!). But after riding hundreds over the decades, I have to almost treat them like people.

    Coasters, like people, all have different aspects and traits and, like people, I like, love, dislike or even rarely, hate them for those variances in personality. Over a decade ago, I gave up trying to maintain a Top 10/20, whatever list, as there are now so many good, even great rides out there. There are also many that were good when new, both wood and steel, but have now aged badly. That cannot detract from the euphoria of my earliest rides after their debut.

    That wasn't the case in my younger years. I've ridden many wonderful (in my youthful, exuberant opinion) woodie goodies that haven't been in existence in decades. I got to ride all four of Coney Island's coaster package back in 1968, I believe. (Including the wooden bobsled, a first!) That was a great day for me. I've also ridden many others in the Philadelphia and New Jersey area back in the day. I've been hooked since ride one on The Wildcat at Woodside Park back in 1955. (Philly)

    When Kings Dominion opened, that was my first ride on a brand new coaster ever (Rebell Yell). Boy has that changed! And so has coaster design and technology. We now are moving into uncharted territory. Woodies still maintain that traditonal flavor, but the total flexibilty of steel has proven that our only limits are our imaginations. (Thank you B&M,Intamin and others!)

    That said, I say all of these rankings are pretty much meaningless. Even Mitch Hawker's great poll is limited by the number of people who have actually ridden the coasters, no matter how distant or obscure. Each of us will always maintain our personal favorites, regardless of what anyone else says. Getting everyone in agreement would almost be the equivalent of trying to achieve world peace. In other words. nearly impossible. I'm just glad we have this great forum, Theme Park Hype and several others to intelligently discuss and share our many varied experiences. (THANK YOU, COASTER CRITIC!) All of you… keep sharing!

    • Thank YOU DC! I might have to work with you and get you to share your experiences on many of those classic woodies that are long gone. Geekly would be the perfect place.

      Anyway, I agree that the lists are kind of pointless, and it's impossible to have an 'accurate' or perfect list for a number of reasons. I'm probably going to write something about that soon. On the other hand, these lists are the best we have and the only way to poll the fans as flawed as they are. Plus, as a writer I kind of have to cover them. It can make for fun discussions as long as we keep in mind what the list is and how it's made.

      In the right context, these lists aren't quite as maddening as if I just say "these are the best coasters in the World according to these fans". I'm going to figure out how to do that in the future because while I like covering these lists, the bashing (from me & from the fans) is getting kind of old. That'll never go away, but it can be minimized I think if we consider the source more.

      • Darn. I enjoy bashing the GTA's.

  11. How do you vote?

  12. Coaster Critic, I agree. Thses lists always provide fodder for lively debates every year. So, at least they serve some purpose. They'll give us something to talk about now that we're heading for the down season, coaster riding wise. and we do have some interesting new attractions to discuss and contemplate for next summer. HersheyPark, Great America and Dollywood will be prime for posts as soon as a few readers haul tail and ride them. Like I said, new designs and nearly insane concepts are giving us fresh sorces for our adrenaline rushes and endorphin fixes each year.

  13. Of course, we can only speak of the coasters we have been on. I have ridden the Voyage, the Beast, Shivering Timbers and the Raven (11th). As far as the ride itself, disregarding other factors such as view, theme, wait in line, etc., no comparison. ST is easily the best. Second would be the Voyage. The others are distant finishers behind.
    It seems the Voyage tried to be all things to all people – a mix of out and back and twister, tunnels…part ST, part Thunderbolt (at Kennywood), part Beast. As such, it was a little too intense for my tastes. It somewhat overwhelms you. It isn’t violent or too jerky (Mean Streak), but it just a bit much. ST is pure fun. Voyage officially has more air time, but percentage-wise, I bet ST beats it, as ST is shorter. It certainly seems ST has more airtime, as that is the main draw of ST. It is all about the feeling of speed and of air time. It has those themes and does them better than any coaster I have been on, wood or steel.
    Have heard boulderdash is just like ST, but on the side of a mountain. Would love to go on it someday.

  14. Just rode Boulder Dash, the only one on this list that I've experienced. It's pretty remarkable, actually close to the top end of my personal coastering comfort zone.

    I think my favorite moment in Boulder Dash is actually one of the bunny hills in the back half. You expect the ride to calm down after the turnaround, but it doesn't; it loses more height and feels like it speeds up significantly. Then there's this one hill right behind the Anchor Bay tube slide that has sort of an initial shelf before the peak, so it gives you a double pop of positive and negative g's. It's like nothing you'd expect in the second half of a woodie.

    My wife, who is not a big coaster fan, went on it with me and I feel kind of guilty for not warning her off; it was way too much for her. Before she rode it, she'd been eyeballing the exposed bunny hills and said something like "It looks like, after the initial drop, it's relatively gentle", which I was pretty sure was not the case.

    • You're right. It definitely feels like the boosters kick in after that turn around and Boulder Dash is still moving pretty fast towards the end. It's like the ride has some phantom LIMs or something.

      • I think you just coined a term: phantom LIM syndrome?

        • Ha ha! That's pretty good.

  15. Hades- A roller coaster with a fun track but most painful coaster EVER I was very dispapointed from a wooden coaster from 2005. My Sister rode the Legend a coaster from 1927! And it was smoother I think mt Olympus should be VERY dispapointed and also the gravity Group. 2 thumbs down


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