IAAPA’s Attractions Expo is the Black Friday of themed entertainment! A huge celebration of creativity and fun; An amazing opportunity to meet suppliers of the industry, attraction owners and like minded people, who all share their passion for this incredible joy and come to learn about the latest and greatest. Every year there is a staggering array of technologies, ideas, yummy food and more. There’s so much to do and see that we selected our picks, Oscar style!
Best New Attraction!
This year, Dynamic Attractions, showcased a really cool All-Terrain Dark Ride system. Dynamic Attractions often work with some of the biggest names is the themed entertainment industry and provides the underlying technologies and ride systems for some of the world’s most beloved attractions. Since last year, they started to collaborate with other companies to provide their own theming as one package, which is a very interesting approach, as a theme park can take this idea as a whole and implement it ‘as-is’. This year, Dynamic attractions partnered with Hasbro, with a very innovative and what looks to be incredibly fun G.I.Joe attraction. G.I.Joe is by far one of my most beloved childhood shows (along with Transformers), so I was very excited to meet Cobra Commander and the Baroness (what happened to Destro?? I hope he’s still alive and well somewhere haha) and about the prospect of seeing this kind of attraction in real life. From what I understood, the ride vehicles can move freely and on any terrain, the first of its kind. I can also imagine how this could be used for a Jurassic World attraction. Simple awesome!
Best VR Experience!
With VR exploding, there was no shortage of VR experiences at the show floor. One of the most impressive ones was Birdly by SOMNIACS. Have you ever had a dream of flying, as if you were a bird? Well, this is the realization of that dream. It is so amazing! You flip your wings to go up, tilt the wings to move more quickly or slow down. It’s very easy to control and the city landscape which you can see through the VR headset is very detailed and lifelike. Although it looks like it’s rendered in real time- the quality in top-notch. Very impressive concept and execution! You really feel like you’re flying, out there!
Most Impressive Booth!
The most impressive booth this year has to belong to Daniels Wood Land. Daniel Wood Land pulled no stops with their display and their high level of craftsmanship really shined: a huge roaring troll greeted guests, they partnered with Madame Tussauds Orlando for a celebrity experience, had a cool life like pirate, their impressive bear animatronic bear shooting gallery (a favorite from last year) and even talking moose! I tried their Dead Man’s Quest: Escape from Pirate’s Lair experience and it was so much fun! Basically, you walk around in a room, with really cool looking pirate rifles and shoot pirates that glow in the dark. Kudos to them for providing such a lengthy intriguing look at their work.
Most impressive technology!
I was highly impressed by Christie‘s projection mapping technology. They put a basic model of a car – the details, color and everything else were coming from the projector. What was impressive about this one – is that you could tilt the model and the projection system recognized this movement and kept the details and mapping perfectly aligned! I can only imagine how this can be used by some of the creative forces (think about morphing cars, just by projection effects). Really impressive!
Best yummy treat!
One of the most delicious treats this year, was Calico Cottage‘s Fudge! It was so good and got a lot of positive attention. I tried the Cotton Candy and the Dulce de leche fudge and both were excellent!
I heard some good things about the Funnel Cake Sticks from Hot Dog on a Stick, but unfortunately, their popularity was so high- that I was unable to try them.
Visiting IAAPA Attractions Expo was so much fun! It’s the biggest event for themed entertainment and rightfully, the one that gets the most attention. What will be the next technological leap or innovative idea for the industry? Can’t wait for next year to find out!
Theme park enthusiast, world traveler, film and animation buff