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Amusement Park Industry Exhibits a Positive Mood at Euro Attractions Show, Amsterdam

For European Theme park and attractions operators the exhibition season began in Amsterdam with IAAPA‘s record-breaking Euro Attractions Show (EAS) from September 30 to October 2. Next year: Rome.

(See also:  Rainbow Productions exhibits at EAS in Amsterdam  / 3D/4D Theatre: A very positive EAS for AlterfaceAnimalive’s state-of-the-art technology at EAS / Clostermann Design’s Alien Idol – Successful Preimiere at EAS ’09 / Cluster of young companies present “X-factor” at EAS 2009

According to IAAPA, the organiser, “more than 8, 000” visited the RAI exhibition centre for the three-day event. IAAPA’s European director, Andreas Veilstrup Andersen, was smiling. “We are extremely pleased with the result of the show, ” he said. “Despite a very difficult economical context, we have a solid show with the greatest variety of exhibitors – and the highest attendance so far.”

After a trial last autumn in Munich, the Amsterdam event confirmed IAAPA was right to bring EAS forward in the calendar (it was previously a January/February fixture). That is unfortunate for organisers of other European shows, such as the UK’s Leisure Industry Euro Attractions Show EAS by IAAPA Week, which took place just one week before EAS, or Amusement Expo Europe, scheduled for October 28-30 in Genoa, Italy. But IAAPA’s muscle means that Euro Attractions Show has now consolidated its position as the continent’s leading event for the amusement park and attractions industry.

A relaxed 11am start was a welcome feature for those who had meetings to schedule, or perhaps been partying a little too hard the night before (in Amsterdam, surely not?) Many rounded off the first day (Wednesday) with a visit to the EAS Welcome Reception.

At nearly €100 per head, Thursday night’s EAS Party was a pricey affair, but gave many attendees their first chance to see BRC Imagination Arts’ transformation of the Heineken Experience, reportedly now one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions.

Back at the RAI, the EAS education programme ran parallel to the show and at several times during its three-day run there was standing room only. Each day tackled a separate discipline – marketing, safety and operations – underpinned by one central theme: the state of the industry in 2020. At the separate TiLEzone conference, which took place on Thursday, delegates were also asked to think ahead as they explored sustainable initiates for attraction development.

As it moves around Europe, the makeup of the EAS attendee crowd naturally varies. In Amsterdam, around a third of the visitors were Dutch, and several of the 278 exhibitors were keen to reinforce their local routes.

Six exhibitors from the Netherlands joined forces to form the “X-perience” jury and conducted a live analysis of new projects, presented in the style of the X Factor (think American Idol) reality TV show. A worthy move from the companies concerned, namely Ovaal speelconcepten, Dynamic Concepts Consultancy, The SMILE of Experience, JN Entertainment & Leisure Consultancy, Imagic BV and Del Dracco Entertainment.

Grabbing the zeitgeist and offering its own perspective, Germany’s Clostermann Design presented an Alien Idol exhibit, in which EAS visitors were invited to sing in front of three “out-of-this-world” animatronics. After each performance, an amusing analysis was offered in alien tongue. “Alien Idol drew a lot of attention at the fair“, confirmed Matthias Clostermann.

In common with other trade shows, riEuro Attractions Show EAS by IAAPA des were relatively few and far between on the show floor. There were, however, a handful of exhibits outside the exhibition hall. The rise of media-based attractions was highlighted by the large cluster of booths from 3DBA and its partners, including Kraftwerk Living Technologies and Alterface. The latter’s Pirate’s Plunder interactive theatre played nearly non-stop during the show, while across the way visitors could climb inside the car of an interactive dark ride bound for Moscow, courtesy of MIT/Preston & Barbieri.

“At EAS we noticed that interactivity is now a ‘must have’ and 4D cinemas are the norm for many attractions, ” observed Alterface’s Olivier Vincent. “We are looking forward to some ambitious projects in the future!”

Overall there was a buoyant mood on the floor, thanks to a successful summer for many European attractions. But how well did this translate into new orders for the show’s exhibitors?

“It’s good to see the parks have had a good season, ” remarked Coen Niewenstein on the Gerstlauer booth, “however they don’t all see the need to invest for next year.”

“I think in 2011 stuff will happen, but we will have to wait and see, ” added Peter van Bilsen of  Vekoma Rides Manufacturing.

“The show got off to a good start and it was definitely better than Munich, which I think deserves another chance, ” remarked Marina Ernst of Zierer Rides. “All the parks in Europe have had a good season, and some are up by 20 per cent.”

“We’ve seen a lot of the same customers we see always in Europe, ” reported Fabbri’s Michele Colombari on day two. “So far the show has not been bad.”

“It’s a good meeting point, ” observed Anna Novikova of Pax Company, currently dividing its time between the amusement industry and the Russian space programme. “We’ve had a lot of good meetings here with our friends.”

“We felt that the choice of city to host this year’s EAS was conducive to meeting a wide range of prospective European clients, ” agreed Simon Foulkes of UK mascot provider Rainbow Productions. “We left the show with a number of high quality leads. Amsterdam was also a good venue to meet with many of our existing Dutch clients.”

Next year, Euro Attractions Show moves to Rome, when it takes place October 6-8. It should prove a popular choice for those wishing to meet customers from Southern Europe, and of course it’s a great city to spend time in after the show. IAAPA clearly understands the value of mixing business with pleasure.

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