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IAAPA Attractions Expo Back home in Orlando


New innovations were few and far between, but the mood was buoyant on the floor of IAAPA Attractions


Expo 2010. Paul Ruben and Owen Ralph report from the 92nd annual convention and trade show of the


International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), which took place in Orlando from November 15 to 19


I


t appears IAAPA did the right thing in returning to Orlando – “theme park capital of the world” – and terminating its plans to stay in Las Vegas for a second


The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, home of Thursday night’s IAAPA party


DECEMBER 2010/JANUARY 2011


year. Preliminary estimates indicate around 25,000 people – including approximately 14,800 buyers – attended the week-long event. That's about 1,000 more than last year in Vegas, or two years ago in Orlando. The challenge now will be to sustain the same level of support over the coming years in Orlando, where the show is worth an estimated a $47.7 million (€36.4m) to the local economy and scheduled to stay for the next nine years (until 2010). With visitors representing 96 nations, there was a slight decrease in international attendance, evidence perhaps of the impact of Euro Attractions Show (EAS), held just six weeks earlier in Rome. Either way, IAAPA wins, as it runs both events. As well as theme parks and amusement parks, buyers in Orlando represented waterparks, family entertainment centres (FECs), inflatable hirers/party organisers, zoos, aquariums, museums, resorts and casinos. The giant North/South hall of the Orange County Convention Centre boasted exhibits from 1,140 companies across 453,100 net square feet of the trade show floor. That's up almost 50,000 square feet from Las Vegas, down nearly 30,000 from Orlando in 2008. The show floor was not without a number of gaps. Former up and coming companies such as Creative Kingdoms (MagiQuest), Total Immersion and HIT Entertainment were missing from this year’s Expo, but there were some newcomers.


During the week, attendees participated in over 100 seminars and educational events, including the ever- popular Disney Legends panel, sessions on industry trends such as social media and behind-the-scenes tours at many Orlando attractions. A crowd of 400 enjoyed a keynote address by Universal Parks and Resorts chairman and CEO Tom Williams at the General Managers and Owners’ Breakfast on Wednesday morning. Social events included the Chairman’s Reception,


Welcome Reception, Young Professional’s Reception, Family Entertainment Centre Reception, plus a well attended European Reception at the refurbished Peabody Hotel adjoining the Convention Center. As well as IAAPA’s official Harry Potter event at Islands of Adventure on Thursday night, there were also parties during the week from the likes of Electrosonic, the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), BRC Imagination Arts, ITEC Entertainment and Gateway Ticketing. Fundraising events including a golf tournament, sponsored run/walk and charity bike ride raised more than $73,000 for Give Kids The World, the Florida resort for children with life-threatening illnesses.


Premier Event “It’s good to be back home here in Orlando,” reported outgoing IAAPA president and CEO Charlie Bray. “We’ve had a great show. There’s an overall sense of optimism in the industry. Exhibit sales are strong and attractions industry leaders came here to buy. We had outstanding participation in our education conference and the social events were a big hit. I think these results reinforce the fact that Orlando is the right location.” “It’s the premier event of the year," highlighted Brian Knoebel of Knoebels Groves Amusement Resort and Campground in Pennsylvania. "We bring a staff of up to 20 people each year – operations managers, games


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