The IAAPA Attractions Expo is always a highpoint of the year for the attractions industry. Despite economic gloom in the US and Europe, the 2012 show, running from November 12-16, welcomed 26, 500 industry professionals from 102 countries to the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando, Florida.
This year’s Attractions Expo was significant for Blooloop as we hosted our first party. Thanks to every one of the 250+ people (see image top) who came along to BB Kings’ Blues Bar at Pointe Orlando and made it a night to remember. It was great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. We’re looking forward to next year’s party already!
As usual there were more parties held than it was possible to attend (although we did our best). Top events for us were courtesy of The Nassal Company, the World Waterpark Association (sponsors included Lo-Q and American Wave Machines) and The Hettema Group.
The Electrosonic party at Universal’s Islands of Adventure was a highlight of the week. The opportunity to experience the revamped Spider-Man ride was not to be missed with the new cars and the fantastic image quality making for a truly amazing ride. [Image: LCI’s Chris Matthews and Rob Paul doing their best Spidey poses.]
JRA’s drinks at 5pm, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, brought each day to a very civilised close.
On the Floor
Joel Manby, CEO at Herschend Entertainment (right), was kind enough to talk us through Outlaw Run, the $10 million ground breaking new wooden rollercoaster at Silver Dollar City which includes the world’s first upside down twist and the world’s steepest drop on a wooden coaster.
The Ice Age waterpark (Polin) heralds a step change in themed waterpark design.
thejuice provided entertainment on the show floor with an energetic performance by an Elvis impersonator to promote the launch of their Elvis Rocks animated 4D film.
American Wave Machines showed off their cool new iPhone/iPad controlled surf pool technology, PerfectSwell™. The first of these giant wave pools is currently under construction in Sochi, Russia.
Simon Nicholson from Haystack Dryers successfully enticed a monster into one of their dryers for a great photo opportunity; Haystack’s slogan for IAAPA was “The monster drying experience” referencing their Jurassic Park dryers at Universal Studios.
It was nice to meet the Colorvision guys who are celebrating 35 years in the business of souvenir photography and image capture. President and CEO Mark Simmons posed with some friendly Ninja Turtles and told us about the changes in image capture technology since his dad set up the company in 1977.
At another souvenir photography company’s stand a member of Blooloop had a rather less pleasant experience involving an unfortunate encounter with an alligator. Etiquette note for next year – if you’re offered an alligator it is perfectly acceptable to politely decline. Sincere thanks to nWave for the antibacterial gel!
Blooloop canvassed opinion in the aftermath of the show and the general consensus was that while the number of attendees seemed to be lower, the quality was very high:
Charles Read (Blooloop): A great show. If the numbers were maybe ever so slightly down on last year, the quality of attendees was very high. Exhibitors I spoke to were all happy with new contacts made/deals done and the event as a whole. Great to see IP taken so seriously by IAAPA too. Plus we had our first party which was great 🙂
Janne Hammel (Project Manager, Electrosonic) The people… as always. [Thanks to Janne, the Angel of Universal Drive, from Blooloop for a very welcome car ride back to our hotel late on Tuesday night after our party!]
Rick Beddow (Vice President Operations, SeaWorld): Good show and the programs offered this year seem to be well attended. What did everyone think of the smart phone app [sponsored by Rhetroactive]? I really liked it, hope they make a few enhancements next year…
Sohret Pakis (Marketing Manager, Polin): No need to say that IAAPA was again successful in so many ways. What was truly significant about the show, however, was the quality of the attendees To me, targeted, truly qualified, well-intentioned attendees who knew what they wanted was the greatest impression of the show.
Dave Cobb (Sr. Creative Director, Thinkwell Group): Loved the new ride hardware from Oceaneering & Dynamic Structures. The trickle-down from custom ride engineering of the big Disney/Universal blockbusters is finally becoming more available for telling new & innovative attraction stories with our other clients, which is really exciting. Also loved the designs over at “Clip & Climb” climbing structures, really innovative & colorful.
Al Cross (Vice President, PGAV Destinations): Asia. Wanda was a MAJOR Show sponsor. Exhibitors were displaying and discussing their work for Wanda and other Asian clients. The Asia Pacific breakfast was a sellout and there was a line to meet the speakers and developers, so again … Asia.
Greg Van Gompel (Blooloop blogger): Having the Kick-off event on the show floor was a novel idea that worked on several levels for the exhibitors and I was surprised at the large number of exhibitors in the Outdoor Midway this Expo. On the floor, I was enamoured with the mini-haunted house walk-thru by Pale Night Productions (see image left). Its marriage of physical stunts with visual effects was stunning. The pounding of the doors, the zombies on the house and the murderess at the end of the haunted house are ingrained in my memory. I can’t wait to see what they exhibit at next year’s convention.
Paul Collimore (Head of Operations, Animalive) The networking events were very well organised this year.
Melissa Ruminot (Director, Marketing & Business Development at The Nassal Company): For a first timer at the show (myself, not Nassal) — it was great networking and opportunity to meet all the players in the industry. It was great to see the passion for the industry and new technologies displayed on the exhibit floor and when speaking with the representatives.
Mikkel Sonne (Owner at Hello! Experience Design and Blooloop blogger): The networking, meeting old and new friends. I enjoyed the CEO speak seminar – honest and inspiring talk from 3 guys at the top. The closing reception at Universal was fun and very well organised.
Anthony Stubbs (Managing Director at Funkimation): The Blooloop party, without a shadow of a doubt…! I really enjoyed my whole IAAPA this year, did some fantastic networking, and absolutely will be there next year!
Iqbal Mohammad (Managing Director, Semnox Solutions Private Limited): A wonderful show indeed. Though some exhibitors were mentioning lower turnout, I think it was compensated by the quality of visitors. We had quite a few genuine interests and met some wonderful industry people that gave precious insights into the state of business making the show a great learning platform. Look forward to next year now.
Lesley Morisetti (Director at LM Associates): This year’s show was topped and tailed by excellent sessions, starting with the Museums and Science Centre day on the Monday and ending with TEA’s insightful Future Legends session on the Thursday.
Claire Dumbreck (Cruden): It felt like there were fewer people at IAAPA this year, but the ones that were there, were, as always, serious. We have plenty of good leads to follow up. We receive several email introductions a day from around the world and we were surprised to meet attractions owners or suppliers from six countries that were new to us.
Gerry Robinson (Secretary – ALES-UK): One of the best IAAPA/US events for some years – the quality of most visitors was impressive and, for me in particular, good networking. As instigators of the use of trade show regulations to deal with IP infringement was very happy with the actions taken on the show floor. Sorry to have missed the Blooloop party but I hear it was outrageous!
Marie Fisher (Sales & Marketing Director at Adrian Fisher Design Ltd): This year’s IAAPA was excellent. The problem is you want to clone yourself so you can attend so many good events but can only select a few. As always it’s a great opportunity to touch base with clients from all over the world, catch up with what’s new in the industry, network and generally enjoy the experience. I thought the numbers were a little down on last year but our industry remains buoyant and positive. Thank you for the party Charlie and Rachel, it was in a great venue and good fun. Blooloop rocks!
Thanks IAAPA for a great show. Our tickets are booked for next year and our party planning is underway.