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IAAPA Attractions Expo
Renewed energy in Las Vegas
A change of venue, from Orlando to Las Vegas, created new excitement
on the floor of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009, the 91st annual convention
and trade show of the International Association of Amusement Parks and
Attractions (IAAPA). But what else was exciting the 24,000 industry
representatives in attendance? Paul Ruben and Owen Ralph report
B
elieve it or not, this was the first time IAAPA had visited Vegas, 33,100 set in Orlando back in 1997. Domestic US park operators,
taking up residency at the Las Vegas Convention Center from however, have had a tough 2009, and IAAPA Attractions Expo is no
November 16 to 20. According to the local convention and longer the association’s only annual trade show.
visitors’ bureau, this five-day fixture had a $40 million economic The size of the show continues to shrink, with slightly fewer exhibitors
impact on the city. this time, 1,074 compared to 1,154 in 2008, and 405,000 square
But what about this year? The world’s largest conference and trade feet of exhibit space as opposed to 482,550 in Orlando last year. For
show for the $24 billion (€16.2bn) amusement park and attractions the visitors, however, less exhibits, meant more time to see everything.
industry hosted an estimated 24,000 people, the same figure quoted Or more time to play.
in 2008, from a record 108 nations. Approximately 14,700 of those IAAPA attendees could also register free for free at the neighbouring
visitors were qualified buyers. Global Gaming Expo, and vice versa. This may explain the 139% leap
This year's attendance was far below the record of more than in attendance from casino operators at Attractions Expo.
Though some may have had concerns about going to Vegas (less
theme parks, longer journeys, more expense for exhibitors), most
conceded it was time for a change, and IAAPA should feel reassured
that the numbers held up.
“We had some concerns about the economic conditions of the past
year, but Vegas delivered the buyers as we anticipated it would,”
highlighted IAAPA president and CEO, Charlie Bray.
More than 100 educational sessions were held during the week,
starting on Monday, November 16, tackling numerous trends,
management tips and training procedures. Wednesday afternoon’s
three-hour “Disney Legends” session was a lockout; such is the
organisation’s undeniable impact within the industry.
IAAPA also staged a number of its own networking events, plus 10
sets of awards, a charity golf tournament and fun run/walk. However,
without adequate facilities at the Conference Center, many of these
fixtures (and even Tuesday’s morning’s Kickoff Event) were held off-
site, which reduced momentum.
Plush galore on the trade show floor! Additional parties were hosted by, among others, BRC Imagination
34 DECEMBER 2009/JANUARY 2010
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