Centennials are always cause for celebration, and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) did theirs in grand style as they shattered attendance records at the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018. A record 42,000 registered attractions industry professionals, an increase of 3,000 from last year, gathered to learn, buy, and network during the association’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Attractions industry professionals from around the world came together to discover the latest products and technologies on the trade show floor, learn from industry experts during the education conference, and build connections with attractions industry colleagues.
“There is no better way to celebrate IAAPA’s centennial anniversary than with a remarkable and record-breaking Expo,” said Hal McEvoy, IAAPA president and CEO. “IAAPA’s mission is to connect attractions professionals with each other and with new and innovative ideas. All that and much more happened here in Orlando. It’s been an incredible week!”
26,600 qualified buyers, an increase of 1,300 from 2017, participated from around the world. These included executives from amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers(FECs), zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers, resorts, and attractions.
“It’s been a great show this year,” noted incoming IAAPA Chair David Rosenberg, Monterey Bay Aquarium. “The floor, the education, the record-breaking attendance: it’s representative of the industry and the direction we’re heading in. This week is setting the groundwork for the next hundred years, and to see a show like this, that sets the bar as high as it is, couldn’t be more exciting.”
“I never see enough while I am here,” admitted Will Morey of Morey’s Piers, “I had some great conversations that will move some projects forward in the future.”
“Several pieces of virtual reality caught my eye,” acknowledged Dan Aylward of the Crayola Experience, “and the show has provided a good chance to meet with some of our suppliers.”
“The IAAPA Expo is an essential part of our organisation’s planning calendar,” said Matthew Jelley, president, Maritime Fun Group. “The show never disappoints in introducing us to new attraction and food service ideas,and it continues to be a great place to connect and reconnect with our existing suppliers and partners as well. Although a lot of focus is on new and emerging technologies such as virtual reality, there is innovation happening in every aspect of the attractions business.”
A great time for the industry
“Traffic was steady,” observed Richard Chance of Chance Rides. “We had a lot of productive meetings with prospective customers on new projects both domestic and international. The economy and the market for amusement rides arevery high. We have the best backlog we’ve had in ten years.”
“The show has been really great,” offered Sophie Bolliger of Bolliger & Mabillard. “We had many interesting meetings. This has been a great opportunity to meet existing customers and meet potential new customers.”
“This year’s IAAPA Attractions Expo was once again a very positive experience for Simworx and a very successful four days,” said CEO Terry Monkton. “We doubled the size of our booth for 2018 and exhibited a fully operational example of ParadropVR, an immersive, interactive, virtual reality attraction, which enables users to enjoy an exciting paragliding experience. This was in constant use during the show and was extremely well received by attendees.
“We were also promoting our full range of media based products, which includes 4D/5D effects cinemas, Immersive Tunnels, Flying Theatres, AGV (Advanced Guidance Vehicle) dark rides and the recently introduced Immersive Adventurer simulator, and had a lot of interest in these products from operators of a variety of venue types.
“Visitors to the booth came predominantly from throughout the US, Asia and the Middle East with others from Europe, and we held many pre-arranged meetings with existing clients while also meeting a good number of potential clients.”
Jens Holm-Møller, CEO and co-founder of Mobaro Park was equally pleased with the show, saying: “We saw more qualified visitors this year; the first couple of years we had to explain the benefits of going digital. What we find now is, the client knows they want to go digital, they just don’t know when, or how. The industry is in a state of positive change and we are leaders in digital safety. We have more than 50 clients world wide, with the US picking up very nicely. For some parks its a big decision to go digital, but we had a number ready to sign on the dotted line at the show.”
Benoit Cornet, CEO and founder of Alterface, said: “This has been a very special IAAPA show for us, with great recognition and visibility across the entire event. As a pioneer in interactive dark rides and theatres, we are very pleased to see interactivity and mixed media getting more attention and recognition in attractions. These can bring the park to a next level of digital entertainment, building on their strengths in physical family experiences and ensuring a strong edge for the future. Alterface will be pleased to advice and support them in these efforts.”
Christie meanwhile, had the latest addition to its lineup of RGB laser projectors, which launched on November 12, on view in a static display. Engineered specifically for complex installations including theme park attractions and giant screen experiences, this projection solution features an ultra-compact projector head, said to give customers the flexibility to install projectors in places and spaces not previously possible.
“As the ‘Official Projection Systems Provider’for Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, we understand projection and display solutions for the attractions industry,” said Bryan Boehme, executive director, sales, Christie. “Christie’s history of innovation continues with the expansion of our lineup of RGB laser projectors. Coupled with Christie’s suite of solutions, including LED tiles, Pandoras Box, Terra, Spyder and Mystique, we can help our partners create powerfully immersive experiences for the most demanding applications.”
Kees Albers, CEO of Unlimited Leisure was pleased to see buyers becoming more aware the total of solutions the company has to offer. “We certainly had a best ever IAAPA show with such a lot of high quality enquiries from around the world for example new generation snow parks including our own developed “Marmots” IP; people are eager to see the opening of our Snow Park in Oman early 2019.
“Also many confirmed that the visitor video system TapeMyDay, which enables visitors to get a complete video diary of their entire stay and TheExperienceTicket.com making the no. 1 guest complaint of queueing a thing of the past, are real game changers. At the same time we had many meetings with potential suppliers for our Holland World project.”
“IAAPA in Orlando is much more than an exhibition. It’s a culmination of all the efforts of thousands of talented professionals showcasing their very best. It’s a melting pot of friends, professionals and everything to do with entertainment. It resonates with our mission of ‘We Create Happy Moments’,” explained Arihant CEO Mr. Jagat Parikh.
“We launched two new products this year, a new ride part of our ‘Bay Series’ with double the thrill, double the fun and double the experience time with four variants – TropicalBay, ThunderBay, CanyonBay, DragonBay. We could customise this to blend with the water parks overall theming too. Treasure Ship gives a soul to the standard water play structure. The response was overwhelming.”
“This year was the busiest and most successful Expo Intercard has ever seen,” said Scott Sherrod. “I can’t imagine how next year’s IAAPA will be able to beat the amount of traffic we had this year!”
“There was great interest in our new Edge Mobile App Collection. It’s a trio of essential mobile apps that includes the popular iServicearcade management tool plus the new Upshot and Inventory tools.”
“Visitors were also excited about the benefits of our new Nagios Enterprise Monitoring System (NEMS) which proactively monitors all hardware deployed by Intercard and notifies our support team of any issues so we can resolve them in an expedited manner. In most cases we will have fixed the issue before the customer is even aware of it.”
“Intercard’s new show booth was also a big hit with visitors, getting tremendous approval at the show. We worked hard on producing it and creating a welcoming contemporary hospitality environment. I am proud of my team for making it happen.”
ETF Ride Systems showed its new popcorn revenge vehicle, a ‘multi mover’ to be used be used in an erratic, non-linear ride, which customers were excited about, said management secretary Elianne Brouwers: “It’s a new concept, totally different to anything currently available in the market and suitable for the medium size theme parks looking at m2, investments and ride capacity.”
Dynamic Attractions meanwhile, unveiled its newest ride innovation, the Dual Power Coaster, which “created far more buzz than we anticipated,” said CEO Guy Nelson, explaining that it has both in-board and off-board propulsion. “However, the real excitement is about its optional motion base platform” he said, “it simulates drifting, air time, 360-spin outs, and other racing phenomena which have been impossible up until now. We are delighted that it won the IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Best New Product Concept.”
Speaking on behalf of Aquatic Development Group, Julie St. Louis told Park World: “We focused on promoting our line of water ride attractions – our newest water ride, Tidal River, opened at Canobie Lake Park this summer in NH. We also focused primarily on our upcoming projects that will be opening in 2019, such as the SoundWaves indoor/outdoor waterpark opening at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, TN and the Kartrite indoor waterpark opening in the Catskills, NY.
“All of our upcoming projects were well received due to their innovative nature and mix of attractions, we had great traffic to our booth and lots of good meetings with current/potential clients.
Having exhibited for the last 17 years consecutively, Allen Weisberg, CEO of Apple Industries is in no doubt that IAAPA is the perfect platform for the company to debut new and exciting products. “It’s also a unique opportunity for our sales team to book multiple appointments with our international distributors, potential new clients and all the industry leaders gathered for one week under the same roof!” he said, adding: “This year was very special for us as we showcased incredible products which were exclusively revealed at IAAPA 2018: The Marvel Adventure Lab, our new licensed photobooth content from Universal Pictures (Trolls, Jurassic World, Back 2 The Future, Fast and Furious and many more) and finally the world’s first app-powered printing kiosk part of our brand new company division: Print Budii.”
ProSlide introduced the RallyRACER at IAAPA. Each RallyRACER rider speeds belly-down on a mat through a tight 360º loop complete with intense Gs, and then the loop accelerates riders onto the RallyPOINTS: open racing lanes with low separator lanes that allow racers to see and hear each other as they rocket competitively through drops with bumps, creating speed, compression and zero-gravity moments. It is available in configurations of 2 to 10 lanes.
ProSlide also introduced the Dueling PIPEline. High above the pool, 1- or 2-person tube-riding competitors launch themselves into side-by-side tunnels for a thrilling race to the bottom. Each rider speeds through tight loops, and then riders accelerate into the exciting and competitive RallyPOINTs, where riders can see and hear each other as they fly through the side-by-side course.
“IAAPA 2018 ranks as JRA’s busiest show ever,” said CEO Dan Schultz. “While the real proof of success of any show is the number of contracts you get months from now, the quality and number of potential project leads we discussed last week makes us very optimistic for 2019 and beyond.”
“Overall we had a great show, ” said Stefan Rothaug of Brogent Technologies, adding “the highlight was definitely the press event with Merlin, where we showed a Lego model of the new THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD themed area that will open in spring 2019.”
“We sold an Air Boat to SeaWorld San Antonio. It’s been a fantastic start, seeing our first client before the opening of the show,” reported Mirko Schulze of Huss Park Attractions. “Prior to the show opening we were already very happy. Since then we had several interesting discussions. It seems to be a little slower than in years before but we’re happy with the walk-in traffic so far.”
“This has been a very good show,” agreed Torsten Schmidt, Maurer Rides. “We had a lot of appointments, seeing people from the U.S., design companies from China, and also from the Middle East.”
“It’s been excellent,” said Vekoma’s Charlotte van Etten. “We have had overwhelming meetings and lots of walk-in traffic. We’ve been busy all week.
“The show has been good,” commented Intamin’s Sascha Czibulka. “Comparable to the past few years, our contacts have made us confident for the years to come. It may be a bit slower than last year due to EAS and other shows. Judging from our meetings the industry has not slowed up. There have been lessinquiries from China, but other clients the number of inquiries has been the same or improved, Government regulations have slowed development in some areas. We are selective in which orders we accept.”
Merrik Keller, director of business development at CenterEdge Software said: “We’re here every year and enjoy seeing a lot of new faces; it’s also a great opportunity to interact with our existing customers. The timing of IAAPA is excellent. This is by far our largest show – one minute we’re meeting with a small family operator and in the next, we’re talking with the developer of a $160 million project. We get to see all sides of the industry because our system touches every guest, every team member and every dollar of a facility.”
“The show has been busier than we’ve seen for awhile,” observed Cody Davis of Screaming Eagle. “We’ve seen existing clients who want more of our products and some new clients who have shown interest, which I think is really, really good.”
“This has been a very good show, smiled Len Soled of Rides-4-U, “with good attendance for the three market segments we deal with, the carnival market, parks, and FECs. We had a number of purchases at the show, and the most-ever leads that we’ve ever seen. So it will be busy beavers after the show.”
Mark Stepanian, VP of Engineering and Innovation at Cavu Designwerks said: “Our intent was to showcase how our Game Changing attractions are giving agency to the rider through real-time media and various modes of interactivity. Coupling these advanced technologies with real time driven ride systems allows for a totally new level of interactivity in attractions that is holistic and organic. Attendees quickly understood Game Changers’ key point of difference is the effect the interactivity has on your ride experience and the revolutionary way it allows you to change the ride vehicle movement and surrounding media. Additionally, attendees were drawn to the Game Changer videos as they placed an emphasis on vibrancy, colourfulness and playfulness rather than the typical dark and moody videos used to promote new rides.”
“It’s been a good show,” echoed Fred Miler of E & F Miler Industries. “We’ve had contacts with several people with real projects. We’re now preparing proposals for them.”
“It’s been a really good show,” confirmed Adam Sandy of the Ride Entertainment Group. For us at Ride Entertainment its been our 20th Anniversary this year. Paired with that, we have our largest project opening at the American Dream in 2019.”
“We’ve been incredibly busy all four days,” revealed Premier Rides’ Jim Seay. “While the heavy work load in China is very busy, other areas are becoming equally heated with respect to themed entertainment projects that results in an even higher level of demand. Premier has continued to expand the company to meet the demand and has its largest workload ever as it heads into its 25th year.”
At this year’s Kickoff Event, IAAPA also revealed its new logo and brand that will officially debut on January 1, 2019.
In 2019 the IAAPA Attractions Expo will again be held in Orlando from November 18 to 22. Mark your dance card now.
More to follow in the January edition of Park World.