The 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expo ended Friday afternoon at 4pm, with the best attendance in 10 years and a record number of visitors.
Over 29,000 amusement park and attraction industry professionals came from more than 110 nations.
The IAAPA Attractions Expo is the largest conference and trade show for the $24 billion global attractions industry. While attendance was a record high, traffic was relatively light on the closing Friday.
MCW met with Eric Bates of ARM to talk about his company's new ride, the Frenzy, which was on display at the company's outdoor exhibit. The Frenzy is a giant swing attraction that can be built as either a park or portable model.
While the portable model does not complete a full loop when swinging, the park model is capable of turning 360 degrees when anchored to the ground.
"Kids love swinging attractions and the piece has gotten a lot of attention at IAAPA" said company founder Eric Bates. The attraction, which Bates has been developing for over a year, is not yet ready to be sold. "We plan on testing the ride on the Bates Brothers Amusements route throughout 2014 to see its grossing potential before we build any more. We want to get all the bugs worked out before we sell one to one of our customers", Bates explained.
Bates had the opportunity to sell one or two at IAAPA, but could not commit until next year.
This year has been relatively solid for ARM, with a full production schedule through 2015. "I had to turn down two sales this week because we couldn't deliver for 2014" Bates added. While a bulk of their business was conducted prior to IAAPA, they did sell some rides to several parks and carnivals in the USA including a 100ft Vertigo to Drew Exposition.
ARM recently built and delivered three Super Shot rides to Traders Village, a company that hosts flea markets in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. "They have been good customers for us", Bates said of Traders Village.
Another hit for ARM has been its re-themed Ali Baba attraction, the Rock Star. Decorated with a new LED lighting package and bright graphics, the ride has given Ali Baba sales a huge boost.
There are currently 15 Rock Star rides on the road and three more to come in the near future.
ARM is still converting existing Chance Inverters into Ali Baba type attractions. The latest is being fabricated for Wade Shows, in time for the 2014 season.
In 2013, Wade Shows purchased an Inverter from EK Fernandez Shows of Hawaii with the intention of eventually converting it to a Rock Star. "There are becoming less and less Inverters on the road" said Bates, noting all of the Ali Baba / Inverter conversions they have completed over the years.
Another new project ARM has been working on is converting Quasar rides from hydraulic drives to electric drives. By eliminating the hydraulic drive, it eliminates the problems many owners experienced with the ride during the 80s and 90s. "The ride is still very popular on the midways", Bates said. He is contemplating bringing a Quasar to display in Gibtown this year.
Displaying in the coin opp section of IAAPA, American Changer has been in the token machine business for a long time, but has been providing automated ticketing units to the carnival industry for the last several years. Company president Wayne Schuler announced a new wireless ticketing solution the company has been working hard to develop.
The system is geared toward fairs and carnivals and does not require them to set up a complicated wireless mesh network on the midway. Customers purchase credits and place them on a smart card, which has a chip that stores the data on the card. Credits are then taken off the card when scanned at the attraction. When customers want to add more credits to the card, they bring it to a retail kiosk and select the number of credits to add and make payment using a credit card or cash.
"We call it our tap and ride system", Schuler said of the new system. "All you have to do is touch your card to the reader and it automatically debits credits from the card".
At the end of the day, readers can be plugged into a computer to download rider data from them. Rider owners can then determine how many riders each attraction has received for the day.
Cost wise, the system is much more affordable than competing wireless cloud based systems which can range anywhere from $250,000 to $1million plus annual service and license fees.
American Changer's system costs $16,000 for each kiosk and $500 per reader with no service or license fees. "You own the system and don't have to pay us any extra".
Schuler hopes to have the system on display at the upcoming IISF Trade Show in Gibsonton and plans on beta testing it at some Florida fairs in March with Reithoffer Shows. "We have had a lot of interest from Powers Great American Midways and Reithoffer Shows, among several others", Schuler added.
Waterloo Tent and Tarp had two new products on display at their booth including a Hex Umbrella and a solar powered cell phone charging kiosk.
Sales representative Rick Hagen said the solar charging kiosk has received a lot of attention at the show. Last year, Coney Island in New York purchased 24 units and placed them throughout the midway and the units received a lot of use. They were initially worried about vandals, but in the end, they had no problems with the units being tampered with.
The kiosk is completely self powered using solar panels mounted on the top. There are three counters for customers to set their phone on and charge using one of the various plugs.
Just below the solar panels are three signs on which owners can sell advertising space. Cody Downs said "owners can sell advertising space on the unit and completely pay for it".
The kiosk retails for $10,000 or $8,500 when purchasing multiple units.
Waterloo's Hex Umbrella proved to be a winner. The design features a heavy duty frame with a hexagon shaped vinyl umbrella over the top. "There are no complicated cables or ratchets, just a tensioner in the middle to keep the top tight" said Downs. The unit with the top on is rated for winds of up to 70mph or 90mph with the top off.
The frame is available in steel or aluminum and can be powered coated in a variety of colors. Shows or parks can customize the top to match their color scheme, like all Waterloos products.
At the time of our interview, the two floor models were pending a sale to an amusement park.
Towards the end of the day, Len Soled of Rides 4-U updated us on his company's IAAPA sales thus far. They sold three park model versions of the Compact Spinning Coaster; two Drop N Twist rides; and a Frog Hopper to Fantasy Amusements and another to Stewart Amusements.
Two KMG rides were also sold including an Experience (or Speed) to Dreamland Amusements and a Freak Out (or Speed) to Newton Shows of Long Island. "Both customers are determining which piece they would like to order", said PeterTheunsiz, sales representative for KMG.
In a partnership between Theunsiz and Soled, UsedRidesEurope.com, they sold a lightly used KMG X-Factory to Barry Jameson of World's Finest Shows in Canada.
As reported earlier in the week, Rides 4-U is working with SBF/Visa to develop a portable version of the Compact Spinning Coaster and hopes to have one in Gibtown. "We have a lot of show owners interested in the piece" said Soled. "We are also working on a new portable version of the Midi Dance Party 360, which we also hope to have in Gibtown".
As the trade show began to wind down for the day, many exhibitors rushed to wrap up last minute deals before the shows officially closed at 4pm. In the third year of a 10 year contract with the Orange County Convention Center, the show will remain in Orlando through 2020. The 2014 IAAPA Attractions expo will be held in Orlando, November 18-21.
CarnivalWarehouse.com's Coverage on the 2013 IAAPA Expo:
Tuesday Highlights | Wednesday Highlights | Thursday Highlights | IAAPA Photo Gallery