Orlando - Over 26,000 visitors from 102 countries came to the IAAPA Trade Show and Convention in Orlando. 1,167 exhibitors packed a trade show floor measuring 495,000 square feet. While the trade show is designed primarily for amusement parks, the traveling amusement industry is well represented and both industries share many suppliers.
Coming at the end of the year, the show provides ample lead-time for purchases and buying decisions before things heat up again in the spring.
Tommy Coffing of usedrides.com is one example of a vendor working primarily in the mobile amusement industry who reaps the benefits of attendance at IAAPA. Coffing was on the floor wheeling and dealing and recounting stories of the year. Coffing said business in both ride purchases and collections has been good this year. Coffing said he has been on anti-depressants since November 7th and was the subject of much teasing from Obama supporters throughout the show. We wish Coffing a speedy recovery!
Chance Rides has made a new entry into the mobile business for the first time in many years. They had their new Freestyle seat on display along with an accompanying video. Ray Cammack Shows was reported to have purchased the first portable model.
Zamperla also was on the floor with their new Air Ride in full operation. The model at the show was purchased by Playworld Amusements. The "baby version" of the park model seats 16 and takes approximately 4 hours to erect. Zamperla said response for the ride has been very good and they believed they had 4 sold by show's end.
Another model that is doing very well for them is the Happy Swings. The ride has been featured at the Gibsonton Trade Show and shows large and small have made purchases throughout the year.
Zamperla also famously operates two parks on the newly remodeled Coney Island. Hurricane Sandy did some considerable damage to the parks with seawater rising as high as 6 feet onto the park. Cleanup of the property has just begun so a full assessment of the damage has not been made.
Zamperla said one way or another the park will be open on Palm Sunday and they are looking forward to a great season.
Sandy has been the subject of much discussion at the show where New York area operators told stories of damage and repair. Angelo Spata's Toy Store Amusements is located in Staten Island, ground zero for the storm. He was lucky enough to sustain only a little damage to his equipment, mainly some flooding and marquee damage. Spata lenthis generators free of charge to local churches who were operating shelters and also donated food for support of these makeshift care operations.
Joe Kennedy, another New York area operator, happened to be on vacation in Ireland during Sandy so he avoided the storm and much of the damage on Long Island.
Northeast Midways, operated by the Piskura Brothers, Anothony and David, had their Fabco Manufacturing business, begun by Anthony in 1997, at the show.
Northeast carriers 17 - 18 rides and plays events in Connecticut and Rhode Island from April through October. The route consists of town sponsored events, church dates and fire department carnivals.
The show owns a Gravitron, Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round, Tilt-A-Whirl, a slide and several kiddie rides. The 2012 season was tough for the brothers. They did not experience total washouts but were on the receiving end of bad weather on key days that Anthony described as "surgical strikes".
Anthony began Fabco in 1997 when he left the carnival for a few years. He started manufacturing ride fence and has now expanded into entrance gates, height signs, overhead entranceways, line queuing devices and front gates.
He has sold gates to shows such as Modern Midways and this year he is coming out with a smaller version, outfitted with all-LED lights.
When talking about LED lights, no one had a booth dedicated to the new technology like Denny,s electronics. Dennis Bartosik came out of semi-retirement a few years ago at the beginning of the LED tidal wave. From the beginning, he preached about the energy savings of the lights as well as the quality and versatility of his American-made product.
In the beginning, there were many new entrants into the market. Some of the lights were of poor quality but could be purchased cheaply and did not have the color capabilities and patterns of the higher end lights. As the issues became better defined and the quality tested over time, the higher quality products began to win the day and Denny,s was one of the leaders on that front.
Strates shows did their entire Dutch wheel in LED lights and to this date, every light is still working. Powers Great American has had similar results with their Sky Diver where just one light has burned out since the project was completed.
Building on an excellent reputation, Bartosik said he has been inundated with requests for work. Wade Shows had a Mega Drop redone, Mike Wood did his Gravitron, Modern Midways did their Yo-Yo, Powers came back to do their Drop Tower, Freak Out and Pharoah,s Fury, Tim Coleman did his Thunderbolt and Kevin Tate did a Century Wheel, just to name a few recent projects.
Manufacturers have also come calling. Denny,s worked with Larson and A.R.M on Swing Rides, Owen on a Big Bamboo and three wheels with Watkins.
Entering his 24th season in the industry, Jay Jessup of Jessup Amusements in Greencastle, IN was at the show looking at some automated ticket boxes.
Jessup's carnival carries 14 rides including a Starship, Gravitron and a Round Up. In the offseason, he will be rebuilding an Octopus, bringing his ride count to 15.
Jessup plays church festivals, a handful of county fairs and shopping centers, all in Indiana. He never books additional equipment and keeps busy throughout the season. 2012 was a good season, marred only by extreme heat and drought in the summer.
Another carnival owner making purchases at the show was Ray Guthrie of Peachtree Rides. The shows carries 22 rides and plays in Atlanta and Northern Georgia. Along with his brother, owner of Gold Medal Shows, they produce the Atlanta Spring Fair at Turner Field in the heart of the city.
Guthrie purchased a new Majestic Scooter and two trains from China. He is also rebuilding his Ring Of Fire. Gold Medal shows had their new Flying Dutchman on display in the outside area.
Niece Becky Guthrie owns a special event rental company called Jee Biz. Becky rents stages, performs parking services, rents toilets and provides ticketing services for events. They recently rented a stage to the Georgia State Fair and have worked with concert producer Ameri-Pop, LLC
KMG had a very successful show and production for the company is now booked through July 4 of 2014. Sales Manager Peter Theunisz said "We spoke with many US and European park owners who were interested in our park versions of the Speed, Fire Ball and High Swing. Already on the first day we sold a Freak Out to a US carnival (delivery end of 2013) and a 'new' ride to Australia (delivery end of 2014). The following days we sold another Freak Out to Windy City Amusements of Chicago and a Speed ride for an American park."
Confirmed deliveries for 2013 include a Speed (2nd unit) for NAME in January 2013, a Speed (2nd unit) for Ray Cammack Shows in January 2013, a Inversion for Southern Cross Rides in May 2013, a Speed for Frazier Shows in June 2013, a X-Factory for Fiesta Shows in August 2013, and a Freak Out for Butler Amusements in December 2013.
As the show was winding down, other purchases were reported by show owners and manufacturers. Amusements of America bought a Circus Train, a Sizzler and a new LED package for their Fireball.
Click here to view photos from the 2012 trade show.
The Vivona Family - Amusements of America
Wisdom Rides - Victor and Mai Wisdom
Waterloo Tent and Tarp
Peter Kasin (Kasin Concessions), Don and Donnie Massie (Alpine Amusements)
Allied Specialty Insurance
Click here to view photos from the 2012 trade show.