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Inside the biggest theme and amusement park expo of the year – IAAPA Expo 2019

Last month the future of theme parks and attractions from around the globe were featured at the IAAPA Expo 2019 which was held in the Orange County Convention Center. The event featured 1,146 exhibitors over a massive indoor and ourdoor trade show floor (over 585,000 square feet) and an educational program designed to get smaller attractions on the same page as industry leaders.

It’s basically a giant playground for theme park industry reporters like me. But if you were one of the other 42,600 attendees at this year’s event, there’s a good chance you were there to either buy someting for your business or sell something to one of those buinesses.

We spoke with Susan Storey, Global Director of Communications for IAAPA about the impact the IAAPA Expo has on central Florida, then we headed down to the exhibit floor for a look around.

What’s coming next to the attractions industry?

Virtual Reality continues to grow and expand in the applications for fun. Two years ago, VR was all about the headset and some small movement that was coordinated in a chair that moved slightly to give you a sense of motion syncopated with the video. In 2019, the chair has become an entire room or even a giant tank. VR has also become very intractive and we saw a lot of gaming environments that used it.

Trackless ride vehicles are getting better and better (witness the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction at Walt Disney World) as is the ability to build dark rides up around them.

Speaking of ride vehicles, a slew of new coaster cars were debuted, including ‘Bolt’ (at top) an electric powered one that will the first ‘Roller Coaster’ on a cruise ship. Shaquille O’Neal even showed up for that debut.

The attraction industry itself is growing. In 2019, more than 1.16 billion people are expected to visit a theme or amusement park. With great organizations like IAAPA helping to keep the industry vibrant and moving forward, that number is likely to be even larger in 2020.