Honor when honor is due

Honor when honor is due

23 December 2022 Off By Facto Edizioni

/ The 24th edition of the Golden Pony® Awards has rewarded the excellence of 9 leisure facilities from different European countries /

The 24th Golden Pony® Awards ceremony took place on December 5th this year. Established in 2002 by our publishing house Facto Edizioni, publishers of Games & Parks Industry, as a tangible recognition to the excellence of outstanding leisure operators, the international award has been given to over 350 facilities and personalities from more than 50 countries so far.

For the third time in its history, the awards ceremony was part of the ‘Meeting della Giostra 2022’ (Rides Meeting 2022), an annual event that takes buyers from all over the world into direct contact with the companies from the so-called Italian Rides District, the cradle of the country’s rides industry, an area in the south of the Veneto region centered around the towns of Bergantino, Calto and Melara, in the province of Rovigo. 

Spending some pleasant days with colleagues from various countries sharing experiences, and celebrating their respective success at the award ceremony was greatly appreciated by the winners. Those moments of rediscovered normality, networking and celebration, were able to push the challenges of the last 2 years away and probably also make the winners look to the future with more confidence.

Held in the Bergantino council auditorium, and organised in co-operation with the Rovigo CNA trade association and with the valued support of the Chambers of Commerce of Venice-Rovigo, Padova and Treviso-Belluno-Dolomiti, as well as the municipalities of Bergantino, Melara and Calto, the Veneto region, VenicePromex, the Rides Consortium and other institutions, the ceremony took place during a gala dinner, attended by personalities from the local leisure business community and Italian politicians too. 

Nine leisure operators coming from just as many European countries were awarded, belonging to different kinds of leisure facilities: water theme parks, indoor and outdoor theme parks, parks & resorts, family parks and parks that are national historical monuments. 

These structures, which we’ll describe briefly on the following pages, all have unique features that make them stand out: for example the amazing Caribbean-themed Caribe Bay, one of the best water theme parks in Europe, sited very close to Venice, or Familypark, the largest theme park in Austria, which following the acquisition by Compagnie des Alpes in 2019 has become even stronger on the market.   

La Mer de Sable was also among the winners of the precious statuette this year. Inaugurated in 1963, this is the oldest theme park still in operation in France, an Old West oasis in a unique location in the heart of the Ermenonville forest. Younger, but almost 40 years old is also the award-winning Norwegian Lilleputthammer Familiepark, a park designed specifically for kids aged up to 8 years and which boasts among its attractions a masterpiece of local craftsmanship.

Children are the main target group also for the Czech Majaland Praha, an indoor theme park inaugurated less than a year ago and part of POP Airport, a large outlet and entertainment center close to Prague airport. Adjacent and closely connected to a large shopping complex is also Mandoria, Poland’s largest indoor theme park, which opened in July 2021 and takes guests to a lively Renaissance city.

Soaked in history to the point of being recognized as a National Historical Monument of Cultural Importance in Spain, Parque de Atracciones Monte Igueldo in San Sebastián is a park dating back to 1912 and whose identity and beauty have been carefully preserved over time by the owners (the Pascual family), now in their fourth generation.

Sommerland Sjælland in Denmark is also really outstanding: this family park & resort features lots of rides and attractions (including a waterpark), events, activities, over 400 beds arranged in unique accommodation solutions, and it is nestled in a gorgeous nature park that is a UNESCO Global Geopark.

The most noticeable feature of Wunderland Kalkar, a park-resort located in Germany, near the border with the Netherlands, is instead its being the result of the conversion of a nuclear power plant from the 1980s. The redeveloped site is now a complex with an amusement park, event spaces and over 430 hotel rooms. The old cooling tower is still there: inside, there is a Vertical Swing, while outside it features a climbing wall.

Selected from a long list of candidates by the judging panel responsible for the Golden Pony® Awards at Games & Parks Industry magazine, the 9 winners were called to the stage one by one and presented to the audience by means of engaging videos highlighting the specific features that were decisive in winning the prize. A presentation that together with the reading of the reasons for the award and the official consignment of the statuette, created a warm atmosphere and kept the audience excited. 

Handing out the prizes were personalities from politics, associations and business: Cristiano Corazzari, councillor, Veneto Region; Laura Cestari, council member, Veneto Region; Clemente Di Nuzzo, Rovigo prefect; Maria Olivieri, deputy police commissioner, Rovigo police force; Enrico Ferrarese, president, Rovigo Province; Luca Montagnin, president, CNA Padova and Rovigo trade association; the mayors of  Bergantino, Melara, Castelmassa, Castelnovo Bariano and Ceneselli (Laura Chiccoli, Anna Marchesini, Luigi Petrella, Massimo Biancardi e Angela Gazzi).

Full story and winners specs: Games & Parks Industry December 2022, page 48

Photos Courtesy: TOGO Media

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