IAAPA Expo – An Amusement Park Fan Favorite

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IAAPA, the international organization for amusement parks and theme parks, held its annual convention last week in Orlando. Always a glitzy affair the IAAPA Expo is actually open to the public, but admission costs are steep (well over $100/person) and it’s primarily a trade show, not a traveling carnival. That said, there ARE some rides to sample here (think spinner ride, several simulators, and an odd carousel or two), as well as giant inflatable bounce houses and other amusements.

This being a trade show, you’ll find vendors here displaying new technologies such as debit card readers, or the latest in automated cotton-candy vending machines (a neat trick, actually). They are hoping to talk to buyers from theme parks, regional parks, and even family fun centers, all of whom are looking for a way to make their attraction memorable and unique (and profitable). A lot of business gets done at IAAPA in this fashion.

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But it’s not all work; there is always a chance to play. One corner of the cavernous convention center is given over to the latest in ticket-spitting games of chance (and skill?), and there are many video games and pinball machines here too. The new Star Trek pinball machine is a clear winner, but I’m less certain we’ll see the standup arcade game for Plants versus Zombies everywhere (you play as the pea shooter). Namco had a nifty wraparound dome screen in a cockpit; it’s like being on Soarin, but the screen is sized just for one person and you’re right next to it.

Star Tours – Inside Jokes, Tributes, Remnants, Homages

Part of what makes the new Star Tours so awesome, for me at least, is the incredible level of inside jokes, easter eggs, cookies, remnants, and homages. Probably this is because I publish a book of such tributes (Walt Disney World Hidden History: Remnants of Former Attractions and Other Tributes).

Here’s what we’ve been able to find so far, listed “chronologically” as we progress through the queue and ride. It should be noted that numerous posters on a couple Disney fan sites helped me by adding to my initial list with new items, that are now folded in:

Queue

THX1138. On the terminal boarding announcements, watch the bottom of the screen for Flight 1138 to Chandrila. There’s also a verbal announcement for landspeeder THX1138, an echo (though a new recording) of a similar announcement pre-rehab.

Fantasy in the Sky fireworks. One video on the large viewscreen mentions Fantasy in the Sky, a reference to the longtime fireworks show at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

George Lucas. One verbal terminal announcement pages Egroeg Sacul (George Lucas), a holdover announcement from the ride’s previous incarnation.

Tom Morrow. Another verbal announcement mentions Mot Worrom (Tom Morrow backwards), which honors an Audio-Animatronics figure from Tomorrowland’s past (at Disneyland, more than one!)

NCC-1701. Just before reaching the large overhead screen, look to your right for white circle designs in the wall. One is labeled in red font with N1C7C01 – an ‘every other letter’ cipher for the number designation of Star Trek’s Enterprise, NCC-1701.

C3PO and R2D2. Another circle design in this same location uses a backward cipher for the droid names.

Tony Baxter. In the corner just below (just after) the overhead screen, look for lettering in dim light saying TWB3000. This is in deference to Senior Vice President of Creative Development at WDI Tony Wayne Baxter, and the old Star Tours flight number 3000.

Despicable Me and Updated Spider-Man Ride Coming to Universal

This morning Universal Orlando announced that Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure will be re-animated using 4K digital HD. The 3D projection system will be by Infitec. They will even add some enhancements to the film – perhaps we should expect some additional inside jokes?

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The big announcement was that a 3D attraction will replace the Jimmy Neutron simulator in Universal Studios-Florida. Using the same 3D technology as the new Spider-Man, this attraction will transform audiences into minions. We will start in Gru’s house and be taken to his lab. As Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative, puts it, the end will be a “one of a kind celebration, where you show off your best moves as part of a minion dance party.” How many minions will there be? Lots and lots and lots – over one million!

Despicable Me will be open in 2012.

despicable meThe full press release with more details is below the jump:

Destination D and WDW Scavenger Hunt Tickets go on Sale Feb. 24

Tired of all the D23 events being on the left coast, well you’ll be happy to hear that tickets for Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th will go on sale February 24 at 10 a.m. PST; 1 p.m. EST.

The Event Offers Members of Disney’s Official Fan Club an Exclusive Look at Walt Disney World and Features Disney Legends, Imagineers, Musical Performances, Entertaining Presentations, Rare Screenings, Special Gifts & More.

More details below the jump if you’re inclined: