The iconic, family-owned property was the recipient of the 2015 Turnstile Award presented by Amusement Today (AT) Publisher Gary Slade during the gala event at Gargiulo’s Restaurant here. The Golden Ticket Awards are one the most prestigious honors within the amusement park industry and are compiled by the magazine, which has its offices in Arlington, Texas.
In naming Quassy as one of his Publisher’s Picks for 2015, Slade noted that Quassy owners George Frantzis II and Eric Anderson have spent most of their lives at the lakeside property.
“Today, both George Frantzis II and Eric Anderson oversee daily operations of the park and have been credited with the rebirth of the property and development of its new Splash Away Bay waterpark,” Slade said before presenting the award.
“The two seasoned park owners set the stage in 2002 to rebuild itself with a $6 million multi-year redevelopment plan,” he added. The investment included the opening of the first phase of the waterpark in 2003 and led to the eventual building of its marquee attraction: Wooden Warrior roller coaster, which debuted in 2011.
“Without their vision, Quassy – in operation since 1908 – could have met the fate of many New England parks of yesteryear and ceased to exist. But George Frantzis II and Eric Anderson did not let that happen. They reinvested and rebuilt to bring record revenues to Quassy, thus keeping the turnstile turning. For their vision and dedication, Quassy Amusement & Waterpark takes the Publisher’s Pick for the 2015 Turnstile Award,” Slade concluded.
Accepting on behalf of the park, Anderson acknowledged the dedication of the family and staff to help turn the operation around.
“I remember the day years ago when our son, Christopher, visited Lake Compounce, which is only 20 minutes up the road from us,” Anderson said. “He came back and said: ‘dad, we need to clean this place up.’ His comments really hit home. That’s a story I rarely share, yet one I’ll not forget.”
Since the gala’s inception in 1998, only three other Turnstile Awards have been given by Slade.
The previous winners were: SeaWorld, San Diego, Calif., 2012; Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif., 2013; and Hyland Hills Water World, Denver, Colo., 2014.
Best Of The Best
The Golden Ticket Awards, which are presented annually by Amusement Today to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry, are calculated from an international poll conducted by the publication. The awards are the result of a detailed survey that is sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world – in balanced geographical regions – asking them to rate the “bests” in 25 categories, according to the publication.
When Wooden Warrior made its debut in 2011, the ride was named “Third Best New Ride” worldwide at The Golden Tickets that year. The 2015 poll has Wooden Warrior rated among The Top 50 Wood Coasters In The World, being 38th on the list.
“This is an incredible accolade as well,” noted Frantzis. “Our ride continually gets high ratings in the poll among coasters much larger than the Warrior. We are grateful to all of the fans who continue to ride and enjoy it.”
The 2015 Golden Ticket Awards had record attendance with more than 400 park and industry executives from throughout world present for the two-day event.
Sponsored this year by Zamperla, an Italian amusement ride manufacturer with U.S. offices in New Jersey, the Golden Ticket Awards kicked off with a Friday evening dinner reception and party at Victorian Gardens in New York’s Central Park.
Saturday’s events included a visit to Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, to enjoy the park and its many amenities followed by a cocktail party on the boardwalk.
Attendees then walked a short distance to Gargiulo’s Restaurant for the awards dinner. RWS & Associates provided entertainment, which included current Broadway stars that got their start in the amusement park industry.