Orlando - The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) kicked off its 98th Attractions Expo with the largest trade show floor in its history Tuesday. The Expo, which runs November 15th through 18th, is expected to draw 30,000 attendees from more than 100 countries.
Themed "Every Experience Matters", the Expo features more than 1,000 exhibiting companies spanning 568,800 square feet at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. There were over 200 new exhibitors in 2016 as well as many new products for the park and attractions industry.
Hall Of Fame Inductees
Established in 1990, the IAAPA Hall of Fame honors legends and pioneers of the parks and attractions industry for their significant and lasting contributions to its growth and development.
Past inductees have included Walt Disney, P.T. Barnum and Antonio Zamperla.
At the Kickoff Event of the Attractions Expo, Jack Morey, 2016 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee, announced the 2016 honorees; Roland Mack and Tim O'Brien. "It is with great pleasure that we induct Roland Mack and Tim O' Brien into the IAAP Hall of Fame, the industry's highest individual honor," said Morey. "Roland and Tim have dedicated their careers to the attractions industry. Whether innovating a new ride or attraction and creating memorable guest experiences or capturing those experiences in writing and photography and telling the industry's story, Roland and Tim's passion for the attractions industry will leave a lasting impression", he added.
Mack, is the eldest son of IAAPA Hall of Famer Franz Mack. Mack co-founded Europa -Park in 1975 and led his family's manufacturing company, Mack Rides. Europa-Park is the largest in Germany, attracting more than 5.5 million guests per year.
Mack is also a founding member of the German Association of Amusement Parks and in 2012, served as IAAPA's Chairman of the Board.
Tim O'Brien is a journalist and award-winning photographer who has chronicled the amusement industry for almost four decades. O'Brien has written more than a dozen books including 2014's Ward Hall - King of The Sideshow.
O'Brien has visited more than 500 amusement parks in 27 countries, while riding 500 different roller coasters. He served as senior editor of Amusement Business Magazine. After 18 years with the company, he took the position of National Corporate Spokesman for Ripley's Entertainment, Inc., promoting the companies 90-plus attractions throughout the world.
O'Brien has published more than 5,000 articles and over 3,000 photos on the industry and he served IAAPA as chairman of the Hall of Fame and Archives Committee.
O'Brien was the 100th person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
NEW RIDES, ATTRACTIONS
While many of the booths and exhibits at the Expo are aimed primarily at the park industry, there are quite a few exhibitors that have a long history in the carnival industry.
Two examples include Majestic Manufacturing and Chance Rides.
Majestic's Jeff and Vince Kudler were excited to be introducing their new Back Spin portable coaster. The ride, available in both portable and park models, is a spinning coaster for the mid-size family market.
Developed over the past two years, the ride filled a need the Kudlers saw in the industry. "We looked at what's there today and coasters are a mainstay", said Vice Kudler. He remembered a conversation he had with E.K. Fernandez about what Fernandez called "evergreen rides". According to Fernandez, "evergreen rides", were the attractions on his midway that could be counted on to produce consistent revenue year after year. Rides such as the Scooter, Slides, Merry Go Rounds, Scramblers and Ferris Wheels remained consistent while some newer rides would have a big first year and then drop a little each year thereafter.
Kudler observed no ride is more evergreen than a roller coaster and they are the focus of so much attention at parks throughout the world. The challenge, said Kudler, was making one that is easily portable, yet large enough to bring a big thrill to families as well as discerning teenagers.
The result is the company's Back Spin coaster. The ride stretches 50' x 70' and has a hill that stands almost 25' tall. The ride has dips, sharp turns and lots of spin.
Once the car reaches the crest of the hill, the car spins freely. The cars have 2 forward and two backwards-facing seats and the ride has a total capacity of 16.
Perhaps most importantly, the rides is easily portable. Once the trailer pulls in, the ride unhooks and comes with its own crane, no additional crane or forklift is needed. If the ride is on relatively level ground, it only takes 4 -1/2 to 5 hours for 2 people to erect. On the other side, teardown can be completed in as little as 3 hours.
The Kudlers have high hopes for the ride, which will be priced in the mid $400,000 range, depending upon options. So far, three orders have been placed and the ride will be making its midway debut early in the 2017 season.
Jeff Miller of Chance Rides was demonstrating the benefits and improvements of their new Zipper ride. Perhaps the biggest improvement is the new style seats instead of the stand up-style of the old ride. In addition, the cars have over-the-shoulder restraints and a Lexan front partition that gives the rider a clear look at the midway while flipping in the car.
New style Zippers have already been ordered and delivered to Wade Shows and Butler Amusements. The latter's ride debuted at Cal Expo in 2016.
Miller said there has been demand for some of the old Chance classics, pointing to a recent delivery of a Yo-Yo and Wipeout to a park in Grand Prairie, TX.
Chance, which once ruled the portable amusement industry with its portable 4-trailer Giant Wheel, had design plans for an even larger set of wheels. Those designs have been revisited and the company is now preparing to manufacture both a 35-meter and 45-meter wheel. The wheel's gondolas, on display in the booth, resemble a small house or shed with clear plastic on the top sides of the gondola for maximum viewing area. Miller said the cars can be partially disassembled and stacked for easy transport.
Finally, Chance and Sea World were featuring a new indoor/outdoor attraction shaped as a sub that will move along a track in and out of buildings at Sea World San Diego.
The attraction, called Ocean Explorer, has an adaptive platform that adjusts to the age of the rider. The custom software platform, developed by Sea World, features a roleplay game for the rider who is challenged to collect data underwater while facing challenges and dangers from the undersea environment.
From dispatch to return, the ride lasts for 3 minutes and 10 seconds. Developed and designed by Sea World, the ride will be built by Chance.
2016 IAAPA Trade Show Coverage