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An Initial Look at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008

The IAAPA Attractions Expo opened on Monday. But the show doesn’t really get going until the “What’s New” presentation which was yesterday morning. This year the kickoff session featured performances from Universal and The Blues Brothers, dancers from Busch Gardens, and a new song from beautifully performed by a singer from Walt Disney World Resort. All in all a great showcase for central Florida.

Three new IAAPA members were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Arto Monaco (Land of Make Believe) and Edgard “Eddy” Meeus (Walibi Parks)  both played key roles in the early days of theme park development and were awarded posthumously. Larry B. Cochran helped open Six Flags over Texas and rose to the top of the company during his 41 years of service and team building. He gave a wonderful speech with a tribute to his family and team members.

The bi-annual Applause Award went to Xetulul a theme park in Retalhuleu, Guatemala. I’ve never heard of this park, but it looked like a lot of fun. San Diego SeaWorld cam in a close second.

After the morning performance everyone heads down to the show floor to make some deals and see what’s hot from vendors old and new. I only managed to cover about 20% of the show floor yesterday but click through the cut to read a few things that caught my eye.

The ‘Flogos‘ machines that were on Good Morning America a few months ago are at IAAPA. They can produce little ‘clouds’ of bubbles formed into your logo or other design. You can see a familiar shape in the photo above. In the photo below you can see the secret.

These are really just little bubbles, similar to the big blobs ‘snow’ machines produce when they’re malfunctioning, formed into a shape and then released into the air. It’s a really neat affect and word is you’ll see them in action at Disney Parks next year.

Sadly the outside display area of the show is really reduced this year. Before there would have been a couple fun rides and other ‘tall’ items, now there are just four vendors.

Inside things are a little different. There are a few holes in the show floor where vendors would have been in the past, but in general it’s almost as full as usual. The traffic yesterday might have been a bit lighter than usual. But only 15-20% or so. So that’s a good sign. People appear to be making deals despite the slow down in the economy. You have to be willing to look ahead. Of course, you also have to have cash on hand, since credit is hard to get these days.

Finally, I did have at least one celebrity sighting. Joan Lunden, a big Disney fan herself, was at the show with her family and a new product called Kinderkord. But more on that later.

Now, I’m off to the show again. If you see me, please do say hi!

2 thoughts on “An Initial Look at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008”

  1. Zierer is apparently selling an all new type of ride to my local park this year, I sure wish somebody who was at the show with a camera could take a picture of the Zierer booth for me…

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