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Show Review


felt very busy, and now the numbers confirm it.

toppled during November's IAAPA Attractions Expo.

More than 32,900 industry professionals (21,200 of

them potential buyers) were there at the Orlando event, making it the second busiest in the exhibition's history.

Paul Ruben and Owen Ralph report from the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC)

On the trade show floor it Orlando show was best this century Attendance records nearly


he all-time high, also in Orlando, was set in 1997, when 33,146 thronged the exhibition halls. This year's impressive tally, recorded between November 17 and

20, represents an 8% increase over 2014. Visitors came from 120 countries to explore the products and services on display across the 558,610 square feet – pretty much the entire floor space (and a little bit outdoors) of the OCCC's North/South complex off International Drive. The event was also the largest IAAPA exhibition since the trade association began producing three annual trade shows around the world.

While the Asian and European shows continue to grow

The signage at this year’s Expo was very eye-catching

(save for at attendance blip this year at EAS in Gothenburg, Sweden), the Orlando event continues to be the focal point for the $39.5 billion global attractions industry. Attendees love visiting because it's easy to get to, with excellent facilities, easy to get around and of course home to some real industry reference points. And the Florida city loves welcoming IAAPA's attendees, too: the five-day Expo (four- day trade show, plus an additional day of seminars and meetings) pumped an estimated $51.3 million into the Orlando area economy. "This was an incredible week," crowed IAAPA president and CEO, Paul Noland. "Walking the trade show floor it was evident that the global attractions industry is booming in every corner of the world.”

Most of the exhibitors and visitors Park World spoke to

would back up Noland's words, although a few had their reservations about every corner of the globe experiencing a boom; Europe by some consensus is a bit flat. Anyway, those that travelled to Orlando were spoiled for choice of exhibits (1,006 companies showed their products and services), education opportunities (enjoyed by 13,400 Expo participants), behind-the-scenes “EDUTours” of local attractions and various networking opportunities. Addressing the GM and Owners' Breakfast this year

was Joel Manby, giving his first big industry address since taking to the helm of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as president and CEO earlier this year. During his 45-minute presentation on Wednesday morning he was quite candid in outlining the moves the SeaWorld parks in the US will be making to restore their reputation after their well-publicised recent struggles. Key to Manby’s strategy is the renaming of staff as “animal ambassadors”. Earlier in the week, approximately 470 enjoyed a lunch-and-learn presentation by Universal Creative president Mark Woodbury. Those that wanted to let their hair the choice of many

parties where they could connect with their industry colleagues in more relaxed surroundings, including the IAAPA Celebrates event at I-Drive 360, home of the Orlando Eye. Well over 1,000 attended on a rainy Thursday night, but that was okay – the bulk of the attractions here, including Sea Life and Madame Tussauds, are indoors, as was the main networking space. The previous night, as well as various regional receptions, Mack Rides offered interested parties a chance to try its VR Coaster concept on board a Vekoma suspended coaster on Fun Spot off International Drive, where Rides 4U was also hosting a reception. During the week, approximately $150,000 was raised

for Give Kids The World (GKTW) through a golf tournament, motorcycle ride, fun run and walk, individual and corporate donations, and various other initiatives. Since 1995, IAAPA has raised more than $1 million for the very worthy GKTW village in Florida, where children with life threatening illnesses are treated to all the best that the amusement industry has to offer, without the big crowds that overwhelm other Orlando area attractions.

30 JANUARY 2016

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