After a time of incredible challenge and incredible resilience, the global attractions industry reconvened for IAAPA Expo in the U.S. for the first time since 2019. The Expo welcomed thousands of industry leaders, decision makers and visionaries to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, for the opportunity to network, learn and buy.
“The successful turnout for IAAPA Expo 2021 is a testament to the resilience and continued growth and strength of the global attractions industry,” said Hal McEvoy, President and CEO, IAAPA. “It’s been a phenomenal week, bringing together the innovators who are moving our industry forward and building the future of attractions.”
Over the course of five days (November 15-19), more than 870 exhibiting companies from a variety of industry sectors displayed their latest products, services and experiences on the trade show floor, which spanned over 375,000 net square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space. As of Friday, November 19, the Expo’s preliminary registration numbers were exhibiting companies: 878; qualified buyers: 21,026; and total registration: 28,229.
From advanced ride engineering and virtual reality experiences, to ticketing and security, the show was filled with new products and technologies that represented 25 product categories. Throughout the week, more than 20 companies made announcements directly from the press conference booth on the show floor, including Merlin Entertainments, Sally Dark Rides, Fun Spot America, Extreme Engineering, Zamperla, JRA, Altitude Rides and Attractions, SPREE, LAI Games, and RWS Entertainment Group.
Highlights of the Expo week included:
- News from Merlin Entertainments that the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park (opening February 24, 2022 in Florida) will be designed with all children in mind as a Certified Autism Center. The company shared this commitment along with a reveal of one of its attraction’s ride vehicles, designed specifically for increased accessibility for children with wheelchairs.
- Fun Spot America’s largest investment in any ride or attraction ever at its Atlanta, Georgia, location, with the addition of ArieForce One. On this steel roller coaster, riders will soar over 3,400 feet of track, towering 15 stories and “flying” at speeds up to 64 miles per hour.
- A “hair-raising” and jaw-dropping moment as the president of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! shaved his “pandemic beard” and added it to the Guinness World Records contender for Largest Ball of Human Hair — while raising more than $34,000 for Give Kids The World (GKTW) Village.
Other highlights included the sold-out GM and Owners’ Breakfast on Wednesday, November 17, featuring Richard A. Zimmerman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and the Opening Reception on Tuesday, November 16 where the 2021 IAAPA Brass Ring Award recipients and IAAPA Award winners, including IAAPA Hall of Fame inductees, IAAPA Service Awards and the IAAPA Young Professional of the Year, were celebrated.
Attendees were also able to learn from industry experts at the “Lunch and Learn” featuring Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and Game Changer – From Spectator to Participant: The New Paradigm of Immersive Entertainment featuring Winston Fisher, CEO of AREA15 and partner, Fisher Brothers. With more than 90 educational experiences, attendees participated in classroom sessions and behind-the-scenes tours events at local Orlando attractions throughout the week.
In 2022, IAAPA Expo returns to the Orange County Convention Center November 14-18. To date, more than 215 exhibit contracts have already been signed, readying for next year.