Paris Expo Porte De Versailles hosts another record-breaking IAAPA Expo Europe

IAAPA Expo Europe (formerly Euro Attractions Show), the largest international conference and trade show for the leisure and attractions industry in the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) region, took place in Paris, France, from September 17 to 19 at the Paris Expo Porte De Versailles.

This year’s exhibition featured the largest show floor in the event’s history with more than 648 exhibiting companies participating across 17,500+ net square metres of exhibition space. Preliminary estimates indicated the expo attracted 15,900 participants, including 11,100 qualified buyers from more than 100 countries. A 13 per cent increase in exhibiting companies from 2018’s event in Amsterdam reflected the continued strength and growth of the global attractions industry, particularly in the EMEA region.

“This week’s show demonstrates the strength of the attractions industry throughout the EMEA region and the rest of the world,” said IAAPA EMEA executive director Jakob Wahl. “The trade show floor was the most expansive IAAPA Expo Europe has ever had. This gave attendees more to be inspired by. In addition, our outstanding speakers – many from France – ensured the conference was informative and valuable for all attendees.”

HB Leisure took home a Best Exhibit Award and pictured on the company’s booth are (from left to right) Rod Hyde, Tim Batstone and Charlie Dujardin

As usual the week also saw visitors taking part in a comprehensive educational programme and numerous different networking and social events. Sharing best practices, understanding the economic climate and learning about trends in the industry were core ideas shared during the conference. Attendees focused on exceeding guest expectations while ensuring topics such as safety and sustainability remained top of mind. The education conference offered more than 100 hours of in-depth education sessions, led by 131 industry experts from 21 countries.

An Indoor Entertainment Day and a Waterpark Forum were held, both on Monday, September 16, along with EDUTours to Mer de Sable and Parc Astérix on the same day. A Lunch and Learn session entitled What’s Next for the French Attractions Industry took place on the first day of the show, featuring prominent leaders of European park groups including François Fassier, director of leisure parks operations at Compagnie des Alpes, and Laurent Bruloy, president of Looping Group, who shared their insights and perspectives about the attractions industry in France.

A Leadership Breakfast on the morning of Wednesday, September 18, featured Nicolas de Villiers, president of Puy du Fou, who shared the successes of the unique Grand Parc and looked ahead to new international expansions. De Villiers directs the staging and oversees the strategy of the unique Puy du Fou historical shows and performances for the park, which welcomes more than two million visitors annually.

On the same day, a Lunch and Learn session on the Middle East and Africa attractions industry was also held, this featuring Sabine Lehmann, executive director, Attractions Africa, Bill Ernest, CEO, Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) and Bianca Sammut, general manager, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, who discussed the latest industry developments in the Middle East and Africa regions. A Young Professionals and Students Forum and Reception was also held on September 18.

During Future Feature: The Future of Disneyland Paris on September 19, Daniel Delcourt, chief operating officer for Disneyland Paris, and David Wilson, Walt Disney Imagineering site leader for Disneyland Paris, shared a unique look into the future of the resort.

Interlink’s John Davies (left) confirms a contract for two used rides with Marshall Hill of the UK park Funland Hayling Island

In addition to an Open Ceremony on the first morning of the trade show, this year’s special events schedule also included an Opening Reception at Jardin d’Acclimatation, an amusement park in the heart of Paris which was entirely renovated in 2018 and features 41 attractions and more than 400 animals.

This year IAAPA presented a number of Best Exhibit Awards which honoured and recognised outstanding booth presentations at the show. A panel of judges, made up of IAAPA industry facility members, selected the winners based on three categories of booth size – 9-27sq.m, 36-72sq.m and 81sq.m and larger. Judges evaluated booth design, branding, staffing and overall appeal. The winners of the 2019 Best Exhibit Awards were HB Leisure in category one, AlterEyes VR in category two and WhiteWater in category three.

Although some companies InterPark spoke to on the first day of the trade show felt there were some quite periods during the day as far as visitors were concerned, the majority by the end of the week were very happy with the outcome of this year’s event.

“Huge number of visitors and much interest were seen at the recent IAAPA Expo Europe trade show in Paris where Zamperla took part,” said Zamperla’s Nicola Masin and Marco Mazzucchi in a discussion with InterPark. “In particular, there were many more visitors than the previous year and a lot of them were interested in buying our products. Some hot negotiations have been closed, while other opportunities will be enhanced next year. Visitors also requested a lot of information about Zamperla’s roller coasters, which represent a very important field for Zamperla’s growth in the next years. But flat rides still remain the most requested articles.

“We are satisfied with the quality of customers that visited our booth. We have also made medium-long term projects with important groups such as Compagnie des Alpes, Merlin Entertainments and Looping Group.”

The WhiteWater team enjoyed an award winning IAAPA Expo Europe

At WhiteWater West, Grant Poje commented: “I’m very pleased with how busy our whole team was at IAAPA Expo Europe, with visitors coming from not only across Europe, but from the Middle East and Africa as well. Anthony Marinakis, our creative director, and Una deBoer, our director of marketing, gave a presentation at the waterpark forum on the Psychology of Play, which was very well received. We’re also very proud to have won IAAPA’s Best Exhibit award and several Euro Star awards.”

And at Belgian company Alterface, CEO and founder Benoit Cornet also sang the praises of the show, commenting: “IAAPA Expo Europe has been an interesting show for Alterface. It’s always a great opportunity to interact with our customers, partners and industry journalists, which we all thank for visiting us. Our team has enjoyed the overwhelming interest and recognition for Popcorn Revenge, which is now just taking off, so watch out for more to come soon!”

IAAPA Expo Europe 2020 will be held in London, England, at ExCeL London, from September 22 to 24. Further information is available at

Dan Tippetts and Dean Weal of Meticulous