|Exclusive News and Interviews
IAAPA Expo up in attendees
Over 1,100 companies displaying their offerings
By Ron Weber, Editor
15,300 buyers from amusement parks, and related industries attended the 2011 IAAPA Attractions Expo, up from 14,600 participants in 2010. A total of 6,795 businesses were represented by the buyers. The five day event took place at the Orange County Convention Center.
"The results for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011 surpassed our expectations on several fronts," said IAAPA President and CEO Chip Cleary. "Exhibit sales, buyer attendance, education program participation, and total registration are all up from 2010, which speaks volumes about the strength of the industry and the Expo,s role as a global can,t-miss event. The buying, learning, and sharing of ideas that takes place here is simply phenomenal."
The North/South building of the Orange County Convention Center was packed with exhibits from 1,106 companies displaying their products and services. The outdoor exhibit area had several rides and inflatables set up, including a Chance Giant Wheel with LED package.
The exhibitors hailed from 32 countries and displayed everything under the sun, including immersive and interactive rides and attractions, innovative water rides and slides, stage productions, mobile ticketing systems, new food and beverage treats, inflatable devices, arcade games, and much more.
A.R.M. had their Flying Dutchman set up outside at the Expo. The ride is similar in mechanics and size to the Ali Baba but it now features an A/C drive and a push-pull mechanism for raising the tires. The ride, sold to Tom Murray, also sported an all vinyl-wrapped wall and front.
A.R.M now makes four version of their popular Vertigo ride, the giant swing that rises on a tower in the air. The models vary in size from 16 to 24 seats and the tallest rises to over 100,.
Bobby Hauser purchased a 110, tall Super Shot this year from A.R.M. Along with Ron Burback,s version, the Super Shot is touted as the tallest, single-trailer ride manufactured in the US. A.R.M. said the ride did very well at the Texas State Fair, grossing approximately $250,000.
One of A.R.M.,s other pieces was also on display in Orlando, the Full Tilt, at Old Town near Disney,s entrance, which was a conversion from the Inverter. It has all LED lights, as do many of the new rides being built by A.R.M
Over at Zamperla, Ramon Rosario was excited. That,s not something that happens often but there were two topics that have really struck a chord with him.
The first is a new ride being rolled out by Zamperla that is currently built for parks but may have some carnival applications. The new car ride is built on a guided track but gives the operator some control over speed. The attraction is a two-track course where riders can actually race each other around the track. The ride is now environmentally friendly, all electric and according to Rosario, "affordably priced".
The second reason for excitement is Zamperla,s continued success at Coney Island. The park operating arm, called CAI, opened the Scream Zone in Phase II of their Coney Island redevelopment plan. Luna Park, with 19 rides, is now joined by the 4 additional rides in the Scream Zone area, which features adventurous offerings such as the Turbo Force and Sling Shot. Rosario said the park had a great year and park operations have become an important pat of Zamperla,s business. They also operate amusement rides in NY,s Central Park and the company is reviewing additional park plans.
One of the successes Rosario pointed to marketing-wise for the Coney Island parks was Living Social. Living Social was represented at the trade show and they spoke of a growing market for family events on their website.
Living Social worked with several county fairs in 2011 and they are hoping to expand the program further.
Under the arrangement with Living Social, the business offers a substantial discount to Living Social members, usually about 50% off the retail price. Living Social then emails the offer to its extensive local mailing lists, usually numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Living Social members then purchase the offer and Living Social takes a percentage of sales from the promotion.
Some have cited the deep discounts, coupled with the fees paid to Living Social as a drawback while many other have reported success in bringing first-time guests to an event or business, looking at the discounts as a cost of marketing.
Fairly new to the amusement business, Carolina ATM has seen sales take off recently. They have worked hard to make inroads into the fair, festival and carnival industries and are always looking for ways to find solutions to help make the outdoor amusement business easier.
Carolina sells and services ATMs and they also provide machines and full service ATM operations to events. Some events, such as the Indy 500, require many machines in order to handle the business. Carolina ATM currently services over 90 events each year.
Matt Rausch of Carolina ATM said the company has just developed a smaller version of the ATM that is rear-loading so it cat fit more easily into compact spaces such as ticket boxes. The company developed it specifically with the carnival industry in mind.
Rausch said his company is also diversifying a bit, moving into credit card processing for shows. Rausch said the company has partnered with a credit card servicing company so they can offer what he believes is one of the lowest credit card transaction fees in the industry to carnivals.
Armor Safe Technologies
Patrick Moore, sales manager for Armor Safe Technologies, said his company offers many solutions for both parks and the mobile amusement industry.
The company has all types of safes and solutions, some give change, others count and audit money, while still other count and store money until a supervisor can pick up the drop.
One unit on display at the show was the money counter mentioned above. With this unit, multiple people could make drops, like what might be needed in a ticket box. Each person making a drop would enter their code and place the bills, no matter the denomination, in the feeder. The machine then counts the money and issues a receipt for that access number. The second person would then put in their code and make their drop. Later, a supervisor would enter a third code, verify the receipts and take the money bank out of the machine, replacing it with an empty bank. This machine can eliminate discrepancies between the sellers, the person picking up the money and the office.
Once the money is in the office, Armor has several machines that can aid in counting and sorting. The top of the line models sort the money, count it and store it in a large safe within the machine, available for pickup by an armored car company or for strapping and depositing in the bank.
In addition to the rides and attractions, there were many companies offering cashless ticketing systems, new ideas and of course there were plenty of industry people with news of their season.
We will cover all of these areas in Part II of our IAAP Wrap-Up.