Sally Dark Rides Receives Multiple Honors for Attractions in Europe

John Wood, Sally Founder and President Also Named as 2023 Industry Icon of the Year

Sally Dark Rides, the globally recognized leader in creating family dark rides and attractions, has much to celebrate after earning several coveted international industry awards in Europe.

Uncharted: The Enigma of Penitence,” which opened this summer at PortAventura World in Spain, earned its first European Star Award as one of the Best New Roller Coasters in 2023.  Based on the Sony Pictures box office hit film and PlayStation video game, the unique attraction features dark ride storytelling with a thrilling roller coaster experience.  With an interactive puzzle-solving queue and Sally’s technologically advanced animatronics throughout, it is the latest example of the company’s ability to bring globally recognized intellectual properties to life. Since opening, Uncharted has earned accolades from PortAventura’s guests and attractions industry insiders around the world. The ride is also the first project that Sally partnered with roller coaster manufacturer, Intamin Amusement Rides on to combine incredible theming and storytelling with world-class ride thrills.

The Sally created, first-ever Sesame Street-themed ride in Europe, Sesame Street: Street Mission also earned its third European Star Award. Also located at PortAventura World, the family-focused ride earned second place in the category of Europe’s Best Dark Rides. The interactive attraction opened in 2019 and earned the European Star Award for Europe’s Best New Ride. Four years later, it continues to delight guests of all ages.

“It was such an honor to have two of our incredible projects recognized and celebrated by the European Star Awards,” shared Lauren Weaver, vice president of marketing and business development, Sally Dark Rides. “We were elated to work with PortAventura once again, this time creating a new, hybrid storytelling experience for their guests.  Their team have been outstanding to work with and we share these awards with them.”

Adding to an already outstanding week, John Wood, chairman and president of Sally Dark Rides, was named the 2023 Park World Excellence Award winner for Industry Icon of the Year.  The Icon award is one of the most recognized in the industry, and each year only two professionals, an industry operator and an industry supplier are recognized as exceptional industry leaders who have made a difference in the EMEA region. Wood, one of Sally’s original founders, has guided the company’s growth to become the leader in creating unique, state of the art, award-winning dark rides around the world. To date, Sally has eleven dark rides in the European region.

“I am humbled by this recognition,” Wood said. “The focus and passion our entire team has for our attractions industry and the projects they work hard to develop inspires me every day. This honor belongs to them as much as it does to me.”

Launched in 2018, the Park World Excellence Awards highlights the best rides, attractions and projects in the EMEA region and the manufacturer and suppliers to support it. Wood received his Award during a ceremony in Vienna, Austria and is now part of the elite Park World Excellence Awards’ Roll of Honor.

The international recognition and awards come during one of Sally’s busiest years to date. The company has opened three rides this year the “Whispering Pines Haunted Hotel” at Funtown Splashtown in Maine; “Uncharted: The Enigma of Penitence” at PortAventura park in Spain, and Treasure Hunt: The Ride, a standalone dark ride in Monterey, California. Sally is currently in production of its first-ever SpongeBob SquarePants themed ride entitled, “SpongeBob’s Crazy Carnival Ride”.

For more than 45 years, Sally has developed rides for theme parks around the world. With extensive experience working with the intellectual properties of some of the world’s most beloved brands, as well as developing original storylines, Sally is recognized as a global innovator and leader. The 2023 Park World Excellence Awards and the European Star Awards ceremonies took place in Vienna, Austria. Coinciding with the annual IAAPA Expo Europe convention and tradeshow, Sally was proud to take part in the internationally acclaimed events and award programs.