Orlando - MCW visited the International Association Of Amusement Parks Expo held in Orlando, FL, November 12 - 16. The annual convention is a meeting of everything amusement park and more. More than 1,100 exhibitors offer everything that has anything to do with the amusement park business.
The show can be very intimidating with so many exhibits and aisleways. They also have a huge selection of amusement rides from all over the world, an annual chance to see what's new and exciting in the ride business.
Educational seminars on every conceivable topic are also offered and there are "mini-conventions" for event planners, regions of the world and related industries.
Although the Expo is targeted at parks, there is also plenty for carnivals here. We walked around the aisles looking for what's new, exciting and in
teresting. Here is what we found:
One of our first stops was at the Bob's Space Racer Booth where we talked with Tony Casatta and Glenda Cook. BSR is the largest manufacturer of games for the amusement industry and they have revolutionized the game business as we know it.
Tony Casatta said BSR "had a very good show, probably the best in the last six years". Casatta said many US and foreign shows purchased games but he did note a lot of foreign interest this year. BSR sold a Whopper Water Race to Bosnia this year and a company from Dubai (UAE) purchased "a good portion of our booth". BSR is also producing a custom double-decker roll-a-ball for Mexico based on their Whopper Water concept.
"IAAPA is usually slow for carnival sales but I was impressed with not just carnival interest this year but FECs, parks and arcades as well", Casatta added. BSR will be finalizing some deals at the IAFE convention in Las Vegas after Thanksgiving.
BSR announced that Whac-A-Mole is the first-ever carnival game to be licensed to a toy manufacturer; Hasbro. Hasbro purchased a license for the game and developed a table top version of the game called Whack-A-Mole Tower. The game is available is stores now and is plugged by the company as the top game of the year. Riding the wave of success, the company is looking into a Whack-A-Mole clothing line and a possible Whack-A-Mole movie – stay tuned!
New at the show, BSR featured a Drop and Stop Game, a Water Blast Too and the Comet Catcher arcade game. A new group game is in development with plans to roll it our sometime in the spring. The piece is planned to be tested in Miami at the Miami Dade County Fair and Exhibition. Casatta said the company would be bringing 9 pieces to the trade show in Gibtown.
In addition to the manufacturing end of the business, BSR also operates their equipment with fairs and carnivals throughout North America. BSR returned to Canada for the first time with North American Midway Entertainment. They set records in all of the Canadian fairs, doing especially well at the Calgary Stampede.
The featured game was the Whopper Water game which stocked guitars. Cassatta said the prizes worked very well for them, flashing the joint well and contributing to the record grosses.
We talked with Vince Kudler with Majestic manufacturing who was showing new Wiggle Wurm. The ride was based off an old concept but improved with trailer mounting and a quick and easy set up. The ride has a capacity of 34 riders per cycle. They have one unit in operation now and plan to have three in operation by the Gibtown Extravaganza, including one at the Florida State Fair and one at the IISF Trade Show in Gibsonton. Vince encouraged people to see the ride in Tampa.
The Catch N' Air received plenty of positive feedback at IAAPA. Companies like the ride's flash, its capacity, and its portability. With the exchange of the euro on the rise, Majestic has had many inquiries from overseas.
Majestic, known best for their bumper car rides, have a business plan to make easy-to-move, high capacity rides that are profitable for the carnivals. All their rides are supported by excellent customer service.
Victor Wisdom Overall reported that the IAAPA show was good for his company. "We have a lot of deals in the works that we hope to finish after the show. We have had good interest in our new Viper ride", he said.
The Viper racks on a 28' trailer and can be set up easily in 1.5 hrs with an hourly capacity of 24 riders. There is currently one on the road owned by Reed Exposition and the customers seem to enjoy it. Vic mentioned that he has enjoyed working with Reed on the ride and they plan to have one on display in Gibtown. At IAAPA, a tub from the Viper was on display.
In addition to the Viper, their main lineup of rides are still selling very well especially the popular one truck Himalaya. There are currently 30 in service throughout the US.
McDonagh Mfg had a booth at IAAPA for the first time. McDonagh Manufacturing specializes in selling LED lights and refurbishing equipment.
At their shop in Michigan, they are working on rebuilding their 5th Chance CP Huntington Train for the African Lion Safari Zoo in Canada. Other past projects include a complete overhaul of a Tilt-A-Whirl for the Grand Bear Resort in Utica, IL.
Matt McDonagh said he is staying busy with winter projects including a Century Wheel for Wrights Amusements and a Himalaya for Cumberland Valley Shows among others. To handle the extra jobs, they added a new building to their existing shop with a new paint booth and a sandblasting bay.
McDonagh has great experience using LED lighting on their equipment. Last spring, they added 140 LED light tubes to their Chance Pharaohs Fury towers which can all be run on one 20amp breaker with minimal power consumption. McDonagh said that compared to conventional lighting, "LEDs are very bright, more cost effective, and have a life of 80,000 hours".
Matt said McDonagh manufacturing will also have a booth in Gibtown as well.
Rotational Motion specializes in the building and repair of amusement rides from a small kiddie ride to a large roller coaster.
Larry Moyer of Rotation Motion was very enthusiastic about their biggest project to date, refurbishing a coaster in Magic Valley, NC at the Ghost Town in the Sky Amusement Park. Their original plan was to refurbish the old coaster, but instead ended up rebuilding it.
In addition to amusement park rides Moyer said RM also refurbishes portable rides for the carnival industry. They are currently rehabbing a rolled Orbiter for Mitchell Brothers Shows.
Rotational Motion is now also producing the old line of products from Advantage Rides including a Mini Himalaya, a Carousel, and a new train ride which will be on display in Gibtown. Moyer added that the train ride was designed to be racked easily on a flat bed trailer with the use of a fork lift. Other projects include portable benches and light towers.
KMG's Hendrik Dykstra was excited to announce the debut of their new portable tower swing ride, the High Swing. The High Swing towers above the midway at 60 meters and is the largest ride of its type not to require a crane for setup.
The ride will rack on 2 trailers and seat 24 riders per cycle. While the first High Swing is set to be delivered to Europe, the ride is also marketed worldwide. There has been a lot of interest in the new ride and the ride's current price tag is $1 million euro. In the US market, the high exchange of the euro has hurt their business because prices have been driven so high here.
During the trade show, many commitments have been made for new purchases from both the carnival and amusement park industry. In the US, the best selling KMG rides include the Freak Out and Afterburner type rides.
KMG is constantly developing new rides. They have a reputation for making innovative, profitable and easy-to-move equipment.
Snowie was introduced on the market over 10 years ago and to this day it is the only self serve snow cone machine of its kind. The unit is designed to serve 6-8 customers at one time. At their IAAPA booth, they displayed several self serve units for the carnival, amusement park, and home atmospheres.
Snowie's Lyle Rupp stated that "unlike other snow cone machine manufacturers, Snowie manufacturers all of their own parts and supplies which makes them us experts in all areas of the business".
Snowie makes the only cube shaver to rival the traditional block shaver. The unit is built so traditional ice cubes from a home refrigerator can be used, eliminating the use of giant ice blocks.
"Snowie flavors are second to none" enthused Rupp. When they design a flavor, they want the flavor to actually taste like the real thing and not artificial.
During the IAAPA show, Snowie sold several units to the park, rental, and carnival industry. Rupp stated that the show was very good this year, but still posed a challenge because IAAPA takes place during November while most of their orders are taken during the spring.
Rupp offered customers the ability to lock in the IAAPA show prices with a 10% deposit. Rupp is looking forward to displaying at the IISF trade show in Gibsonton this February where they will have one of their portable units.
Jeff Pugh reported lots of interest from parks and traveling shows at the IAAPA show in both new and used rides. New for 2007 is the Miami, a platform ride similar to the Gee Wizz.
Pugh said at least 5 street fighters have been sold the US and there are several new orders in the works.
Ital plans to have a Bertazzon Swing Buggy on display in Gibtown. The Swing Buggy is a one-trailer version of the Flying Bobs featuring a 49' circumference and 16 tubs with a capacity of 32 riders per cycle.
Joe Iacona was delighted the show returned to Orlando from Atlanta where he says the company always does much better business. Joe stated that the 2007 show was "more busy and many more large companies were there."
The flashing display light tubes were a very large hit this year. The new style programmable LED light tubes were very popular and many customers were interested. Other new LED light up products included the popular blue, green, and multi color space swords. The new swords have been a huge hit at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks over the last few months.
Iacona said Gloworks will have 2 new style carts to display novelty items at carnivals and festivals and fairs at the Gibtown Extravaganza this spring. Other display solutions are being constructed to help simplify selling and reduce the need to replace batteries while also making setup look more professional.
Waterloo Tent and Canvas
Waterloo introduced digital printing into the carnival market this year. They now have the capability of creating new or use existing images to design ride tops, skirts and midway games. As the inks have improved and the costs have come down, it may very well be a viable option in custom canvas design.
Although traffic seemed down initially, the latter days were very busy. The Friday cutoff may have forced buyers to make decisions quicker. The company has seen an expansion of European customers. The strong Euro has opened many doors and led to new opportunities for them. The company was still closing deals after 4pm on Friday.
Waterloo is in the design stages of a new line up of midway game frames and tops. The concept is centered around today's need to be "green", economical, and yet be a bigger attraction than the already stellar designs WTT offers. This product is planned to be part of their fall 2008, spring 2009 roll out. There may be a test product early this year as trial to ensure the quality and functionality of the stand.
Some of their game customers have been asking for a simple, economical, and easy to erect tent. Waterloo may preview a line we have been working on in Gibtown this year.
The company is also considering having our first Carnival "Garage Sale", bringing down all of their stock items and offer them up at ridiculous prices. Pete Downs, WTT President said, "If we pursue this idea, we will provide a list of products at the (Gibtown) show and let people rummage through the stuff and make offers. We used to do this at the winter show at the I-X center in Cleveland. It was a great success for us as we cleaned out warehouse space for the upcoming season"
Len Soled said IAAPA was great for the company. He had lots of inquiries and will be finalizing some deals in Vegas for the carnival market
Rides-4-U had a lot of luck liquidating equipment from the Wild West World in Park City, KS. Most of the equipment was sold to parks. Pat Davis of Davis Shows N.W. purchased the Wacky Worm coaster from the park.
Soled said Rides-4-U sold a good amount of new equipment at the event, including a new Chopper Train to Corky Powers of Powers Great American Midways. Powers had recently ended a record run at the North Carolina State Fair.
All exhibitors seemed generally happy with the show and the spending. Many remarked about international sales due to the weak dollar but there was a general feeling of optimism throughout the event. Ride companies, like ARM had their new G-Force and Full Tilt set up, were displaying new equipment and reporting sales and many were looking forward to exhibiting at the Extravaganza in Gibtown this spring.
Click here to view additional photos from the 2007 IAAPA Attractions Expo