Exhibitors take a look at this year’s IAAPA Attractions Expo
As the parks and attractions industry once again heads to Orlando for the annual IAAPA Attractions Expo, our preview of the show this year takes a look at the event through the eyes of just some of those who will be participating on the trade show floor, with a more personal insight into what exhibitors think of the show, how well it serves the industry, tips for visitors and more.
Jeroen Nijpels, principal, JN Entertainment & Leisure Consultancy
Providing sales consultancy services to manufacturers and suppliers such as Zierer, nWave, Landmark Attractions and HB Leisure, Nijpels’ first IAAPA show was the last one to take place in New Orleans, in 1996. He believes Orlando is the best place for the show, being the capital of the theme park industry, while it also “creates a very strong pull from all over the world for visitors.”
And he continues: “The IAAPA show in Orlando does a remarkable job in terms of bringing everything together in one place, once a year, basically for the whole world. However, our main regional shows (EAS for Europe, AAE for Asia and DEAL for the Middle East) are all growing in importance, so inevitably you will see the Orlando show getting somewhat of a more regional focus, mainly addressing the North and South American markets. So for me personally, looking after those other markets, the Orlando show is slightly losing its relevance in terms of it being the prime place to do business. But since the programme is so strong for that week, and still so many come from all over the world, you will see me over there for many years to come!”
His number one tip for visitors is not to hold back in bringing staff members to the show, but with a very clear objective – they have to come back with at least one practical idea to be implemented in their part of the business that will make a significant impact in the business.
“I have seen the show become more professional, but also with much less actual attractions on the show floor than in the first few years I attended,” he adds.
Nijpels feels this year’s big focus will be on dark rides, media based attractions and similar, particularly if the regional show in Asia was any indication. And like every year, he will be found mostly on the Zierer booth where “we will show the visitors all about the new coaster Zierer supplied earlier this year to Knoebels Amusement Park in the US, the Tower Speed Coaster. Based on the reviews by fans and park visitors, this has truly become a turning point for Zierer, expanding on its reputation as a family coaster manufacturer and now firmly establishing itself as a major roller coaster supplier.”
Marco Grigolo, sales manager, Technical Park
Marco Grigolo is sales manager with Italian company Technical Park and has been in the industry for 10 years, attending the IAAPA show for the same amount of time.
He comments that the best and worst thing about IAAPA in Orlando “is only one – the location. Here you have the perfect place for infrastructure, logistics, climate, affinity with the end user… but when you know exactly what awaits you, you lose some interest. To bring enough novelties on the show floor and make the usual show a new show, is the big challenge we face every year. But we think we are well equipped this year with our new attractions!”
Grigolo believes the show helps manufacturers to be more in tune with its customers’ individual needs, while the seminars providing professional training are a boost to improve the business. But the big value, he believes, is the safety focus and the pursuit of norm harmonisation and better governance of the industry. Sharing experiences and comparing them is also very important, he adds.
As is the case with all exhibitors, his wish is to keep meeting the usual contacts who come to the show and to increase these with new participants who he hopes will also become regular customers. So how has he seen the show change and develop over the years?
“IAAPA was the top event for the marketing and product networking,” he says. “I say it ‘was’ because the maximum exposure is now achieved online. The industry is witnessing the growing importance of social media as a very important digital marketing tool that can give greater marketing mileage for any brand, product or service. We are more exposed to and more connected with the endless tools social networking provides, but bless God we are humans and we need to ‘feel’ in touch, so we still need meeting places and IAAPA is our place.”
He feels the big focus of this year’s show will be on special effects and creating “wow” effects, while from Technical Park itself, visitors will see an interactive family ride demo with two different themed settings and a revolutionary gondola for Ferris Wheels “that will confirm our industry role of pioneers in innovation. We already did this with the first carbon fibre seat ever made for amusement rides, with the first interactive flight ride, and we’ll keep doing it,” Grigolo states.
Frank Kalff, commercial director, Cruden
Cruden has been exhibiting at IAAPA for 14 years this year, which is as long as the company has been in the attractions industry. It makes car, boat, raft and helicopter simulators and, using the same professional equipment relied upon by Formula 1 teams and other top levels of international motorsport, the company states that its simulators provide “the most realistic and accurate motorsport experience available.”
Klaff comments that the best thing about IAAPA for Cruden is “meeting the attractions design agencies who bring our technology to the attention of attraction owners. This is our primary chance of the year to have face-to-face contact with them. The IAAPA Attractions Expo offers a diversity of customers from around the world that we just don’t see at the regional events.
“The worst thing is being stuck in a dark, air-conditioned exhibition hall for four days while missing the mild and sunny Florida climate outside. Finishing the show at 5pm instead of 6pm would help with that!”
His number one tip for visitors it to take enough time to see the show as it’s so large – and also to “find the booths offering free ice-cream!”
On changes and developments at the show over the year, Klaff comments: “I’m not sure I’ve witnessed that much change over the years, although BRC’s decision not to exhibit a couple of years ago signalled a change to the status quo.”
As usual, the Cruden booth will be the place to go for an exhilarating race on one of the company’s interactive, full motion simulators. “We’re bringing our Hexatech 3CTR race car simulator and our Powerboat 5CTR, which this year comes complete with a bow. When we launched the powerboat simulator at the show last year, we listened to show-goers’ comments about the need to include a bow or nose. Our simulators use real hardware for the best realism but we have to match the load to a practically sized and priced motion base for attractions and unfortunately a full boat doesn’t work. What we can do, however, is to mount a bow to the floor to complete the look while the boat is in its resting position, so that guests will get the visual impact as they approach and depart the ride. We will be demonstrating this and look forward to hearing what people think.”
Giancarlo Bellotti, export manager, C&S
Giancarlo Bellotti has worked in the industry for almost 30 years, having joined SDC in 1986, and attended his first IAAPA show in the same year, “right in Orlando, in the ‘old’ convention centre.” He has attended most IAAPA shows since then.
He comments that the best thing about IAAPA Orlando is that “it’s big; most of the world exhibits there and most of the world visits it,” while the worst thing about the show is “it’s big, too big!”
So how well does he feel the show reflects the industry and its needs?
“Though trade shows are no longer what they used to be, I still believe the IAAPA show reflects our industry very well; I couldn’t imagine a better show. Orlando itself is the right place for our show, with so many living examples of what the best of us can achieve. If I could I would keep the show in Orlando forever.”
For visitors to the show, he feels the best tip is to focus on their needs, plan well ahead who they wish to meet and don’t be distracted by unplanned contacts on the show floor. He notes that many visitors spend three days wandering around then try to start negotiations on the very last day.
Over the years he has seen exhibitor numbers increase, booth areas shrink, more digital marketing being used (videos, web and social media), fewer printed catalogues and less rides on display, while the visitor profile has mirrored changes around the world – more from Eastern Europe and China, less from Japan and the Middle East, fewer independent operators from outside the US, more major buyers who control clusters of large parks or chains of FECs.
He believes the focus at the show this year will be how to cope with a changing world, when change becomes faster and faster, and also how to cope with a world market shrunk by years of economic recession, “but this has been the focus of the last five years, actually,” he says.
At the 2015 expo, C&S will present a new model of bumper car, Twitty, first seen at EAS in Gothenburg, followed by Induferias in Valencia and finally at IAAPA Orlando.
“It’s very much an ‘Italian’ bumper car,” Bellottti reveals, “addressed more to European than to US buyers, but it shows what we can do and that is the point.”
Ruud Koppens, CEO, ETF Group
ETF as a company has existed for almost 65 years and it was 19 years ago that it started the division ETF Ride Systems. This year will be its eighteenth year at IAAPA. Koppens has been with the company for over 40 years.
“The best (thing about IAAPA) is that it’s right in the middle of one of the world’s largest entertainment areas, which is attractive to combine it with park visits to see the latest rides,” Koppens says. “Also, it’s the world’s largest exhibition in this field and that in our opinion still makes this the most important IAAPA show. The worst (thing) is that it is every year; our industry does not move that quick that we can present new ideas/rides every year. Furthermore the IAAPA shows in Europe and US are too close to each other.”
Koppens feels the US IAAPA show represents all aspects of the amusement industry and in doing so is the most comprehensive show where visitors can find everything they might need for their operation. And his tips for visitors?
“Besides visiting the show you have to visit at least a few parks in the Orlando region. It’s better to do this prior to the show rather than after as the weekend before Thanksgiving can be quite busy in the parks. Also, choose a hotel which is close, or linked by the IAAPA bus service, to the exhibition and if you want specific attention from a supplier/exhibitor, it’s best is to make an appointment ahead of the show.”
He notes there are less rides actually in operation at the event these days, due to increased costs to do this on an annual basis, while he has seen new industries developing a strong presence at the event, such as media based products for theatres and dark-rides
At this year’s show, in ETF’s main area of business, dark-rides, Koppens feels all major suppliers will show their new ideas on interactive action with media – “No traditional shooting any more, but … we have already seen and tested some of those new ideas.”
And on the ETF booth itself? “We will not show any new ride. We are processing many new rides for 2016, on which more in 2016, and for IAAPA next year we will be there for sure with a very interesting and surprising booth!”
Terry Monkton, managing director, Simworx
Simworx is a leading supplier of a range of media based simulation attractions. Monkton has been visiting IAAPA annually since 2002 so is well qualified to comment on what the best and worst things are about the IAAPA Attractions Expo?
“It’s like a well-oiled machine, always well organised. The Orange County Convention Centre is a great exhibition centre with hotels within walking distance and obviously having so many great theme parks locally is a big benefit to visitors.
“As great as Orlando is though, I do miss the exhibition visiting other areas of the US. I fondly recall IAAPA shows in Atlanta, Las Vegas and New Orleans.
He believes the show reflects the industry and its needs “perfectly” and has the following advice for visitors.
“The show is HUGE. Don’t expect to see everything in one day. Also, the show can get quite busy – it’s always really useful to pre-book meetings with potential suppliers. Most of us now have a meeting room embedded into our stands.”
And Monkton also notes how the show has changed over the years.
“The main thing that I have noticed in recent years is the decline in European visitors. This is because IAAPA has done such a good job with the EAS show. I personally feel that for European operators, EAS meets their expectations and therefore they do not need to also travel to IAAPA Orlando. Having done EAS every year since its inception in 2005, I’ve noticed how the show has grown in size and stature.”
So what does Monkton feel the ‘big focus’ of this year’s show will be?
“There have been some fairly major advancements in technology recently, in particular in the world of media based attractions, and I think this will be a major focus this year.
And for Simworx itself?
“It’s our first IAAPA Orlando show following the acquisition of RoboCoaster, so we have some high quality Advanced Dark Ride solutions that we will be showing to visitors, as well as promoting our dynamic simulation attractions, Immersive Tunnel, 360° Flying Theatres and 4D Cinemas. We will be showing visitors a selection of our rides using a VR Headset.”
Şöhret Pakiş, director of marketing and communications, Polin Waterparks
Polin has been a member of IAAPA since 2002. Founded in Istanbul in 1976 it has since grown into a world leader in the design, production and installation of waterparks, waterslides and water-play attractions.
Among its many achievements, Polin was the pioneer in the advancement and application of closed-moulded manufacturing technology for waterslide development. First implemented in 2006, 100 per cent of the company’s fiberglass production has now been converted to resin transfer moulding (RTM), while it also offers its unique and patented Natural Light Effects technology, Special Pattern Effects technology in RTM and translucent RTM waterslides.
Pakis notes that the IAAPA Expo is “always fun and gets better every year” and is the place where Polin gets to see all its clients, friends and partners. “Every year there’s always something new to discover,” she notes, adding that on the flip side “Our time at the show always flies by so quickly. The show is so busy and so big that, if you’re not really well organised, you’re bound to miss something!”
She feels that IAAPA Orlando “kicks off the New Year of the waterslide industry calendar and is a “critical meeting point for us” as all the buyers are there and suppliers are all showcasing what’s new, while her #1 tip for attendees is to prepare well for the event in advance.
“If you want to get the most out of this show, you must plan ahead and set up meetings before you ever set foot in the city. Plus you need to make sure you attend all the networking events. They are great learning opportunities. The education program is really important, too.”
As far as this year’s show is concerned, Pakis feels different things will be the main focus for different companies depending on the category in which they operate. However, one common interest among everyone will be what’s new, she states, adding: “I’d guess that if you ask the waterpark owners and operators, they’d probably say that one of the biggest trends for them is theming and multi-rider attractions.”
And from Polin themselves? “We have some really exciting things to share. The most exciting is that we’re ‘fusing waterslides with art’! You’ll understand what I’m talking about when you visit our booth at IAAPA. Our newest offering marks another milestone for the waterslide history. We encourage you all to come and see for yourself!”
Patrick Lamb, managing director, Severn Lamb
Severn Lamb has been providing people moving products to the leisure and resort industry since 1947. The company has been a member of IAAPA and exhibiting at the IAAPA Attractions Expo (IAE) for over 25 years.
Lamb believes the best and worst thing about IAAPA Orlando is its location.
“On the one hand its obviously the prime location for our industry expo given the number of parks and resorts in Orlando and the excellent facilities and services the area provides,” he says, “but at the same time in the past when the expo used to move from location to location it kept an air of freshness about it. That said, the pros far outweigh the cons for the long term proposition of the expo being held in Orlando.”
He states that he has always been amazed by the breadth of exhibitors and the various products and services that are offered on the IAE show floor and advises attendees to “always allow enough time in Orlando. There is so much to do and see both inside and outside the expo. And, perhaps obvious, but wear comfortable shoes!”
So how has he seen the show change and develop over the years?
“The on-going growth both of exhibitors and buyers is significant,” Lamb points out. “This is reflected in the number of peripheral products that IAAPA offers, including the educational seminar programmes, tours and events. There really is something for everyone almost all of the time. It is now far more than just a trade show.”
He comments that it’s difficult to forecast what the big focus of this year’s show might be, given the wide range of sectors that are represented at IAE, but notes: “Not necessarily the ‘big focus’ but throughout this year at the various exhibitions we’ve attended we have seen a growing exposure of virtual reality, whether it be for demonstrating a vendor’s products or to enhance a ride experience.”
And what can visitors expect to see from Severn Lamb at the show this year?
“We continue to offer our traditional range of rail and road trains as well as taking on new cutting edge custom concept engineering projects typically focussed on moving people in some form or another. Our primary two new offerings are our Adventure Truck allowing facilities to take up to 70 guests on an all-terrain experience and our Ultra-Light Rail vehicle.”
Alberto Zamperla, President & Ceo, Antonio Zamperla Spa
Zamperla has been in the industry for more than 50 years and has been visiting IAAPA for approximately 40 years.
About IAAPA in Orlando, Alberto Zamperla comments: “Ironically, the best (thing) about IAAPA Orlando is also the worst. Nice weather and a number of beautiful amusement parks in the area are at the same time good reasons to attract people but also reasons for people to be distracted from the trade show itself. I think IAAPA should wonder if its visitors are coming to Orlando to attend the show because they are interested in the show itself, its seminars and the products which are being exhibited, or if they are attracted by Orlando’s offer of good weather and excellent amusement parks, to the point that attending the trade show is more an excuse to come to Orlando than the real reason for it. This is also the reason why I believe that the success of an exhibition should be evaluated based on the number of actual buyers visiting the show instead of simply the number of visitors and/or busybodies.”
He feels IAAPA is still the event of the year in the industry, both at a domestic and an international level, but is worried that it is getting less and less “focalised” on amusement rides, tending to embrace also fields such as food, merchandising, etc., which already have their specific trade shows. “I mean, amusement rides are fundamental in the amusement industry and I am of the opinion that IAAPA should be more concentrated on them.”
Zamperla’s #1 tip for visitors is to make the most of their presence at IAAPA by taking advantage of the number and variety of exhibitors, while looking at how the show has changed and developed over the years he comments: “It is getting less and less focused on amusement rides and is opening up too much to side and ancillary fields.”
He is unsure as to what the main focus of this year’s event might be but on the Zamperla booth, much focus will certainly be on two new rides that the company will be exhibiting, namely the Wind Starz family ride and the Zip Zap Racer kiddie ride.
Tommy Wei, ESAC, China
Located in Zhongshan city, China, ESAC has been involved in the amusement industry for the past 15 years, having started out in the decoration of game centres.
Today the company is involved in all elements of designing and constructing family entertainment centres, children’s play centres, game centres and museums. With the company’s owner having visited the show many times, 2015 will be the first time that ESAC will take its own stand at IAAPA Orlando. The manufacturer sees the trade show as the biggest and most important event for new business opportunities, providing a platform to see the latest trends and innovations in the attractions industry.
Through years of visiting the show, ESAC’s owner has noticed how technology showcased at IAAPA Orlando grows quickly within the industry and also notes that the number of Chinese exhibitors has increased over the years. With this in mind, the manufacturer is looking forward to seeing what the big focus of this year’s show will be and is keen to see how much focus there is on VR technology being used in the industry.
As part of its move from visitor to exhibitor, ESAC will showcase Snooker Emperor and Steven Hendry licensed silicone wax figures, alongside a sleeping watchman silicone wax figure.
Leo Jwei Lee, Director of Marketing Dept., Golden Horse
Golden Horse has been dedicated to amusement ride design, manufacturing and installation since 1983 and sees IAAPA Orlando as an opportunity to meet with old friends and its international counterparts in an environment surrounded by famous attractions.
Today, the supplier is considered one of the biggest in China and in 2014 – in order to cope with demand – moved its headquarters and factory to the Torch Development Zone, expanding its workshop area to around 100,000sq.m and increasing its staff numbers to 1,000, of which over 100 are technicians. Constantly striving for quality, the manufacturer is a vice-president unit of CAAPA and Guang Dong Province Association for Special Equipment, a president unit of Zhongshan Association of Amusement Parks and Attraction and is a member of SAC/TC250, directly participating in the National Standard Setting of Amusement.
Having participated in the show since 2005, commenting on the growth of IAAPA Orlando, for Golden Horse as the show has increased in size it has also improved its services to exhibitors, becoming more organised and much more comprehensive in terms of activities. This, in turn, has attracted more visitors and provides exhibitors with the opportunity to get closer to potential customers. Having witnessed the show become better and better over the years in terms of size and quality, one of the main things that appeals to Golden Horse about IAAPA Orlando is the high quality visitors it attracts – they are serious about purchasing attractions and rides.
“The show is undoubtedly the biggest amusement show in the world. Visitors can meet all kinds of exhibitors in the amusement industry.”
Looking to this year’s show, Golden Horse believes the focus will be on new rides or attractions over anything else and visitors can expect to see lots of unseen new creations on the Golden Horse stand. One of its most recent releases – the KSC-24B Double-track roller coaster, composed of two basic mirror orbits – is an example of the manufacturer’s capabilities. The car swoops down at close to a 70 degree angle, then goes through a surfing loop, vertical ring, vertical spiral loop, horizontal spiral loop and back to the platform, this example being a special, customised design for Wanda Projects.
Li Miao, general manager, Mich
Established over 10 years ago, MICH has been an IAAPA Orlando exhibitor for the past seven years. Specialising in the design and production of indoor and outdoor playground, trampoline and fitness equipment, its team is focused on first-rate technology and high quality products, along with a strong after-sales service.
For MICH, it is IAAPA Orlando’s excellent reputation as a quality trade show that attracts the high numbers of industry visitors from around the world. The show is an excellent opportunity to meet more industry partners and customers and also to learn about new technologies and demands from customers.
At this year’s show MICH expects to see even more progress and vitality from the industry and is looking forward to telling its existing and new customers all about its latest range of innovative products, which are improving in quality and design year-on-year.
Andrew, overseas sales manager Zhongshan Luck & Jinying Amusement
Established in 1995, Zhongshan Luck & Jinying Amusement Machine is a member of IAAPA and also a council member of CAAPA. Exporting all over the world, the manufacturer sees the IAAPA Orlando trade show as an excellent opportunity to meet many of its clients in one place, from countries all over the world.
Having moved into a new factory that covers more than 20,000sq.m in the Guangdong Game and Amusement Culture Industry City, the manufacturer has been able to become a specialist in production. Concentrated on dynamic ideas and advanced technologies, Zhongshan Luck is committed to the development of indoor and outdoor amusement machines, including children’s rides, video games, trains, bumper cars, carousels and carnival machines. Not only a manufacturer, the company also welcomes OEM and ODM production for customers and distributors in the amusement industry.
Commenting on IAAPA Orlando, for Zhongshan Luck & Jinying it is a show that truly reflects the amusement industry and its needs, presenting the most popular games alongside the latest innovations. Every year brings something different and new developments – it gets bigger and better all the time, offering more potential clients and more new products year-on-year.
With this in mind, for this year’s show the manufacturer feels that the big focus for many companies will be on 4D cinema and VR glass game play machines. On its own stand, it will introduce a number of new products including Undersea Legend – its very first, 16-seater, ocean themed carousel; Ice-cream Music Beats, an ice cream themed music game; Bob Bob Park, a big touchscreen featuring four games; and PPC113-B, a bigger and wider bumper car system. The manufacturer will use IAAPA Orlando as an opportunity to move deeper into developed markets such as the USA and UK, where it believes there is still a high demand for amusement machines.
Janine Baker & Goedele Gillis, nWave
Goedele Gillis is sales director EMEA at nWave, working out of the company’s Brussels office, while Janine Baker is senior vice-president distribution and development, based out of the California office.
Both Gillis and Baker point to meeting clients face to face at the IAAPA show and having them experience nWave’s 3D/4D titles as the best things about the event, as well as introducing new and potential clients to the company’s products. However, they both decry the fact that with working on the show floor, they don’t get the opportunity to attend many of the seminars and events that are of interest and that provide such great networking opportunities.
Looking at how well the show reflects the industry and its needs, Baker comments that although it targets the FEC crowd and amusement parks, it has had significant growth among the institutional market such as with aquariums, zoos and science centres. And she adds that IAAPA could do more to grow attendance from these areas as the institutional market looks to brands, brand design and interactive exhibits for their sites, as well as embracing more than the FEC and amusement sector and expanding entertainment to education by looking at museums and science centres.
Both Baker and Goedele believe that carefully planning a visit to the IAAPA Expo is vital, in particular knowing which exhibitors visitors want to see, while they have also seen the event grow and develop over the years, notably with an increase in visitors from science centres, museums, zoos and aquariums, as well as those from theme and amusement parks.
Again, both commentators believe it’s “what’s new” that will be the focus of the show this year, with technology playing a big part in new product developments and visitor expectations. And for nWave?
“As every year, nWave will launch a new 3D/4D film. This year our film features the world’s most famous castaway, Robinson Crusoe. But of course, we are nWave, so there is bound to be twist,” says Goedele, with Baker adding: “Something ‘new’ of course! nWave strives to exceed the expectations of our audience. We have grown in all markets, including the feature film market, and this allows us to bring top quality 3D to our guests. We continue to provide new ride and attraction films to our clients every year.”
Stuart Hetherington, CEO, Holovis
Holovis has been visiting the IAAPA show for the last eight years and this year’s event will mark its sixth as an exhibitor.
“This year we have been challenged with the close timing between the IAAPA and EAS shows,” Hetherington notes. “This has put a lot of pressure on exhibitors and has meant that many were unable to allocate the resources to or pay for the shipping to bring the bigger technology elements to both events.
“The best thing about IAAPA is that it brings the whole industry together under one roof for an incredible five day conference programme, headlined by the biggest names in the industry, and four days of exhibition where next generation solutions can be found ahead of official releases.”
He feels the show reflects the industry’s needs very well, with every side represented in terms of suppliers giving buyers the best eclectic overview (of products) and the location being “perfectly situated to host a world audience.”
“With so much supplier diversity represented, the show floor can be overwhelming for first time visitors. The best advice is to plan who you want to see and where possible try to book meetings in advance so you have a strategic plan for the days, leaving some time to walk the rest of the show floor and be gripped by the next big thing you didn’t even know you were looking for.”
For Holovis, the focus now is on utilising real time media to drive the future of attractions. “By incorporating elements such as interactivity you create a more creative and flexible attraction which increases ride repeatability by giving guests a different experience each time, depending on the path they choose to take. This concept is a real game changer for the industry,” says Hetherington.
At the IAAPA Expo Holovis will be showcasing the world’s first real time interactive game solution in a 3D dome, which will combine immersive visuals, spatial audio and a highly compelling storyline with synched motion and accurate interaction for a next generation dark ride style experience.
Taking place in a 10m 3D full dome, 12 people will be able to experience the attraction simultaneously through the Holovis MotionSeat system. The showcase will feature the latest game from the Holovis Dome Rider series, Crimson Wing, developed in-house by the Holovis Media team.
Tim Timco, vice-president of sales and marketing, S&S Worldwide
IAAPA Attractions Expo remains the premier trade show for the global amusement industry, according to Tim Timco.
Based in Logan, Utah, S&S Worldwide is a leading manufacturer of air-launched tower rides and unique coasters. The uniqueness of the group’s product offering is what differentiates the company from other ride manufacturers, as demonstrated by its 4D Free Spin, 4th Dimension and Free Fly coasters.
According to Timco, IAAPA Attractions Expo is the leading amusement industry trade event. “It provides everything from new products, education and networking events, which allows for many opportunities to fulfil everyone’s needs,” he said.
This year will mark Timco’s 32nd consecutive year attending the Attractions Expo. When asked to draw on his wealth of trade show experience, he said the most important piece of advice would be to plan a schedule ahead of time.
“The show is too big, with too many things to do,” he said. “The best aspect of the Expo is without a doubt the location,” he added. “Orlando provides the perfect destination in terms of climate, convention facilities and services and amusement attractions that make it a very desirable industry event to attend. I have many, many fond memories.”
“The worst aspect of Orlando, in my opinion from a business standpoint, is that it allows for many show visitors to be non-buyer attendees who are guests of buyers. Despite this, however, since the show has remained in Orlando for a number of years – with many more years in Orlando ahead of us – it has developed its own identity and consistency; this I believe has allowed for stronger, steadier attendance.”
At the show this year, S&S will be displaying its new 12 passenger launch coaster vehicle which will debut on its new Triple Launch coaster in the Spring of 2016. “We will also be introducing a new junior coaster that we are extremely excited about,” Timco said.
John Wood, chairman, CEO and co-founder, Sally Corporation
SALLY Corporation attended its first IAAPA convention in New Orleans in 1978 and has not missed a show since. The Jacksonville, Florida-based company is a manufacturer of animatronics and show controls and specialises in developing turnkey dark ride solutions around the world.
Reflecting on the historic importance and continued relevance of IAAPA Attractions Expo, John Wood, said: “We’ve seen many changes in the show over the years, but I must say it has always been a quality production and an excellent marketing experience for our company. Well over 50 per cent of our marketing budget is devoted to the show each year. Believe me, if it wasn’t effective we wouldn’t spend that kind of money!
“There is no better showcase of the industry’s vast number of suppliers and variety of services and needs than the IAAPA show,” he added. “It is a true reflection of our industry, a ‘must-see’ trade show and learning experience for all operators around the world.”
The big focus of this year’s show for Sally Corporation surrounds its range of new Justice League attractions going into Six Flags Mexico City and Six Flags Great America.
“People who visit our booth will have a chance to see elements from some of our newest attractions – both Justice League and House of Nightmares at Gröna Lund – and a brief presentation on our newest dark ride blockbuster, The Walking Dead: Battle For Survival,” said Wood, who was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame in 2013.
“The best thing about Orlando is the accommodating layout of the trade show floor accompanied with the biggest and best attractions in the world! It has proven to be an evergreen drawcard as attendance has continued to build over the years and set new records.
“Our number one tip for visitors would be – make your reservations early and buy tickets to the events you want to attend early as well. Both items sell out quickly! Second tip: wear comfortable shoes! There’s a lot to see on the IAAPA show floor!”
Christian Martin, vice-president of marketing, Triotech
After scooping a number of awards last year, Triotech is preparing for yet another successful IAAPA Attractions Expo.
At the event this year, Triotech will be presenting a world premiere for its exclusive Maestro hand gesture technology. An exciting new development for the industry, Maestro allows interactivity without the use of a device such as a light gun or a pointer.
As the Canadian company prepares to set out its stall once again in Orlando, Christian Martin said: “I think the show perfectly reflects the industry and its needs because of the wide array of products and services that are on display.”
The Montreal-based company, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2014, will be exhibiting at IAAPA Attractions Expo following an extremely successful event last year. During the show in 2014, Triotech won two IAAPA Brass Ring Awards for Wonder Mountain’s Guardian at Canada’s Wonderland. The innovative, media-based, interactive dark ride won awards for Best New Product in the Major Theme/Amusement Park Ride category and an Impact Award for a new product that will have the biggest positive impact on the industry’s future.
“It is very rewarding to have peers recognise the good work that is accomplished,” Martin said.
Grant Poje, executive vice-president of business development in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia, WhiteWater West Industries
IAAPA Attractions Expo is the single best way to see the entire industry represented in one location, according to WhiteWater’s Grant Poje.
WhiteWater is a leading global designer and manufacturer of waterpark products and active family attractions. The Canadian company specialises in waterslides, multi-level water play structures, wave-generating equipment, FlowRider stationary surfing machines, harnessed attractions, interactive play and water rides.
Poje joined WhiteWater four years ago and says of the IAAPA Expo: “The best thing about IAAPA Orlando is the size of the show. It is the biggest single event in the industry that everyone attends. It provides a great opportunity to meet and mingle with nearly all vendors and customers and is the single best way to see the entire industry represented in one location. It is not only the show floor, but the events are always extremely well organised and a lot of fun.”
In the four years he has been attending the annual Orlando convention, Poje said he has witnessed the show’s steady growth. “Every year it feels larger and more impressive. As a relative newcomer to IAAPA, at my first Attractions Expo I fell into all the usual traps of trying to see everything in one go. My advice to any visitor would be to take your time to absorb everything the show has to offer – and bring a comfortable pair of shoes, because there is a lot of walking.
“Last year’s leadership breakfast stood out as a particularly great event. Jim Pattison gave a wonderful talk and at the end, all attendees participated in a world record attempt to try to simultaneously launch the most handheld gliders ever. I still have my Guinness World Record certificate.
“This year’s big focus will be technology integration. We are all rapidly becoming digital experts. We all have our devices firmly attached to the palm of our hand. I have seen a few innovations that have begun to utilise technology integrated into a product, to elevate that product to the next level. Integrating technology and social media into a product will allow users to share experiences not only with those who are with them at the park, but their entire network of friends.”
Sebastian Mochovsky, director, Sacoa
Sacoa has been in the industry for over half a century. The company started its operation as an FEC in Argentina over 50 years ago and today owns and operates over 30 venues in that country.
In the early 1990s, Sacoa started developing the Playcard system for its own use and a couple of years later released it to the international market, deploying it throughout Dave & Buster’s locations in the US. Since then, Sacoa’s Playcard system has been installed in over 1,300 locations in over 60 countries all over the world.
In consideration of Sacoa’s growing client base across a number of different sectors, Sebastian Mochovsky, a director of the company, underlined the importance of IAAPA Attractions Expo. “Of all the exhibitions Sacoa attends worldwide, IAAPA best represents the widest range of clients and businesses with literally everything an operator may need in one place,” he said.
“The best thing about IAAPA is seeing the largest number of attendees at any show in our industry. Because it is so large, IAAPA is probably the best show to attend since it attracts operators from all around the world and potential customers come looking to buy.”
Mochovsky added: “I’ve seen IAAPA grow much broader in scope of products over the last decade and it’s now recognised by vendors as probably the most important show in the amusement industry. The waiting list for exhibitor booth space is enough proof to me. And the number and quality of training seminars for almost any subject is great to help newcomers and established members become successful in our industry.”
Sacoa will be exhibiting several new products at this year’s IAAPA show, including the Colorshot HDT-RF reader, a multi-function card reader combining a dual head magnetic stripe + RFID ‘tap to credit’ technology; mPOS, a mobile version of the Sacoa POS, which can run on any Android tablet; and a completely renewed and enhanced Customer Registration Module that gives guests added benefits and allows operators to capture critical marketing data from guests when they register their Playcards, either at the store through Sacoa’s automated kiosks or online.
In addition, Sacoa will also be showcasing a brand new feature on its Colorshot HDT readers, which allows players to charge their cards in one venue, play and then spend the remaining credits in another store – at any time – by simply swiping their card through the game readers.
Wyeth Tracy, president, Empex Watertoys
SINCE the mid-1980s, Empex Watertoys of Toronto, Canada, has supplied creative water playscapes for the enhancement of landscape designs the world over.
Empex manufactures creative interactive watertoys and spray features for water playgrounds and splash parks internationally in campgrounds, municipal parks, waterparks, amusement parks, family entertainment centres, day camps, summer camps, golf courses and resorts.
Ergonomically designed for safety, the products are non-metal, providing low electrical and heat conductivity, and are fabricated of rugged, corrosion free, speciality plastics for use in chlorinated water.
“Empex Watertoys started in 1986 and we have been attending IAAPA Attractions Expo since then,” said company president Wyeth Tracy. “This year we will showcase our Aquatropica line of water features and our exhibit will allow attendees to experience our dynamic colourful product first hand.”
Launched earlier this year, Aquatropica is a new line of interactive water features with a tropical theme. The new features are ‘leafy flora’ and ‘zany fauna’ with tropical trees and flowers, caterpillars and butterflies, bugs and snails, monkeys and birds, all of which are intended to provide an exciting and unique water playground for children up to the age of 12. Interactive water play structures with slides are also available to create a dynamic tropical centrepiece.
Commenting on the importance of the Expo, Tracy said: “IAAPA Orlando is a great show for us, as we meet and reconnect with many international buyers and past customers where we obtain valuable feedback. Orlando has high entertainment value for attendees, which makes the show attractive.”
He added: “The worst part about exhibiting at IAAPA’s largest show is the exorbitant fees charged to exhibitors. What would also really improve IAAPA Orlando is to offer Wi-Fi on the show floor for both attendees and exhibitors so attendees do not have to leave the show floor to gain access and exhibitors can work more effectively.”