Wednesday, December 6, 2023

AAE Wrapup: IAAPA in Hong Kong

Highlights from the Asian Attractions Expo in June

By Martin Palicki

ABOVE: Andreas Andersen, Hal McEvoy and June Ko

Hosted by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), Asian Attractions Expo 2018 took place 5-8 June 2018, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong, China. Estimates indicate the Expo attracted more than 9,000 participants, including 6,500 qualified buyers and 393 exhibiting companies. Increases in participants, buyers and exhibiting companies from 2017’s event in Singapore reflect the strength and the energy of the global attractions industry. The event featured a full trade show floor at 10,224 net square meters.

The total number of buyers in attendance from all facets of the attractions and leisure industry represents a 27% increase from Asian Attractions Expo 2017 in Singapore, and a 7% increase from 2015 when the Expo was last held in Hong Kong.

“We were excited to bring Asian Attractions Expo 2018 back to Hong Kong. This is the only show IAAPA hosts in Asia and the international representation from exhibiting companies and attendees demonstrated the appeal of the destination, and the strength of the global attractions industry,” said Hal McEvoy, interim president and CEO, IAAPA. “It’s been a great Expo and we’ve enjoyed celebrating IAAPA’s 100th anniversary with our members and colleagues from around the world.”


InPark joined other industry journalists in a roundtable with IAAPA leadership during the Asian Attractions Expo. Responding to questions were Hal McEvoy, Interim CEO of IAAPA; Andreas Andersen, IAAPA Chairman of the Board as well as CEO and President of Liseberg park; and June Ko, VP of Asia Pacific Operations for IAAPA.

What impact do you think recent changes in China’s approach to land use will have on the market?

Hal McEvoy: We continue to see great growth in the region. We recently opened an office in Shanghai that will be supporting June and the Hong Kong team. Our Global Outlook report shows that in 2016 for the Asia Pacific Region, spending went up over 8%, attendance increased over 6%, and per capita spending increased over 1% as well. China accounts for about 77% of that increase. So guests are visiting parks in China and our feeling is that China will continue to see good growth.

Andreas Andersen: Although we are optimistic and see growth, we have to understand that the markets are always cyclical. We will see ups and downs. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the Asia Pacific region, and will continue to see growth, but we also plan for these cycles and movements in the marketplace.

An extensive education program was available to all attendees of AAE, like this well-attended session organized by the Themed Entertainment Association

In particular, what about the focus on Hainan Island?

June Ko: As we know, the Chinese government is very supportive of Hainan Island and we do know there will be continued regulations that might support growth there, and that’s why many investors are looking at Hainan Island as a destination to invest in. We are happy to see our members already there. Since the government is very supportive of that region we can see very quick growth within the next two years. Because there are already international investors and brands there, I don’t think it’s a great surprise to anyone to see additional growth there.

There is still discussion on what is to be opened in different areas of Hainan Island that have not yet been developed. Most of the attractions are in the Northern and Southern areas; there is still land to be discovered. The infrastructure is in place (trains, airports) so we are looking forward to that expansion. It is definitely moving in the right direction. Hainan Island will be a very hot destination.

Additionally, I have heard there is the potential to open up Hainan Island to be visa free for more countries, which would be an added benefit.

How is the strength of the Asia Pacific region impacting IAAPA’s search for a new CEO?

Hal McEvoy: The IAAPA board is conducting a worldwide search. Our expectation is that it will probably extend for a couple more months to complete this process, and when the board feels they have the right candidate, you can expect an announcement.

Andreas Andersen: IAAPA is truly a global association and the show in Hong Kong is a testament to that fact. International experience is important for the CEO role and will be considered in the hiring process.

How are the impending changes to global trade policies impacting our industry?

June Ko: Trade policies in general are constantly changing. As an association, we support the industry and the needs of our members. We are here to ensure sustainability and support systems for our members. We have the IAAPA News Flash and other mechanisms where we communicate changes in the marketplace to our members. IAAPA is the voice and backbone of the industry and not just one region. Our core expertise is to be that voice in not one country or one region but the whole world.

Andreas Andersen: In addition to that, you can see in places such as Latin America, there are conditions that
ease taxes levied on amusement rides. While in some areas you may see the opposite, in other areas of the world we will see that it will be easier to gain access to attractions and supplies.

Hal McEvoy: We are here to educate leaders in the world and working with our members to try to make sure that tariffs are fair. We are looking for some positive changes in the next few years, but it takes time for these processes to go into place. Our role is to try to move things forward in the industry that will support our members.

How are you celebrating the 100th anniversary of IAAPA?

Hal McEvoy: We are really excited about our 100th anniversary and building the future is really the direction we are looking at as we move toward our Expo in Orlando. What we’ve done all year is to create a series of celebrations for our members. For example this week at Ocean Park we will have a celebration of our 100th anniversary with our members. In November at Orlando we will have the big wrap up, a big celebration that ends with a bang. Organizationally, we are setting the foundation for the next 100 years: celebrating the past and building the future. The future of our industry looks bright and we are very excited about the happiness and memories our industry gives to people around the world. •


AECOM’s Chris Yoshii

Hot on the heels of the 2017 TEA/AECOM Theme Index report, which was released just in time for AAE and available there in a Chinese-language, hard-copy version, AECOM’s Chris Yoshii spoke to a crowd gathered at the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo in Hong Kong about the latest trends in the Asia Pacific marketplace.

Future Trends

• International IP interest: A wide range of international media brands are considering theme parks in the region, beyond the typical players we’ve already seen enter the marketplace.
• Third tier cities and resorts: A diverse geographic spread of projects continues to provide more opportunities for development in smaller locales.
• Themed entertainment complex: Developments often focus on clusters that include a theme park, hotels, retail, dining and entertainment.
• Growing domestic IP: The market has seen a greater use of locally created IP.
• Reduced real estate emphasis: Governments are placing less emphasis and incentives on real estate driven projects. Although this may seem bad, in the longer term it is a better situation for the industry, providing more sustainable developments.
• Increased government control: Along with more oversight of project approvals and financing, governments are becoming more realistic about project performance.

Key takeaways

• Asia is now the fastest growing market for theme parks. Another ten years of growth are expected, but that also means that competition is increasing.
• Recently announced projects indicate that a ten-year outlook is realistic.
• New methods of project delivery are needed; innovation must continue. •


Industry trends could also be identified by visiting the extensive expo hall. InPark caught up with leading vendors for their latest product news and ideas for the marketplace.

WhiteWater’s first Raft Battle installation is in China
Splash and Flash

InPark met with Una de Boer, WhiteWater’s director of global marketing & strategy, for a mid-year update on the company’s activities.

On the personnel front, WhiteWater hired Gavin Smith as vice president of park attractions for southeast Asia and China. Although he is new to this industry, he brings with him extensive experience working in this region.

Jesse Crawford, who has worked for WhiteWater as an engineer, is the company’s new attractions sales manager. His role is to help parks that purchase WhiteWater equipment plan for operational needs and regular maintenance. This is a new position for the company and it is designed to solely focus on educating the client, in order that they properly understand the technical aspects and requirements of their new attractions.

Showcasing the company’s Attractions line of products, WhiteWater highlighted their new Raft Battle attraction. The ride reimagines the typical theme park rafting ride. The circular raft places guests in the center with a hand crank pump guests can operate to splash nearby rafts and guests. “The ride puts control in the guest’s hands,” said de Boer, allowing for a more interactive experience.

The base model can be highly themed. On hand at the expo was a firetruck-themed raft, but Amikoo park in the Riviera Maya is expected to open a jungle themed version next year. The first Raft Battle will be opening at the end of this summer at Gui’an Park in China.

De Boer highlighted how the company is seeing synergies across its different wet and dry play products. For example, WhiteWater now offers a Spinning Rapids Fusion attraction. Traditionally, the Spinning Rapids Ride combines a waterslide trough with a large inflatable raft designed to keep guests inside (mostly) dry. This new fusion attraction adds the Manta element to the waterslide path, providing a zero gravity moment for riders. “This product is a blend of ideas between our wet and dry ride teams,” explained de Boer.

Finally, WhiteWater was busy talking about their lineup of project openings. They are looking forward to a highlythemed version of its No Boundaries attraction opening soon at Warner Bros’ World in Abu Dhabi, a new large park in Dubai, Wet’n’Wild in China and more exciting launches coming throughout the year. •

New flying theater concepts

Holovis and Brogent independently announced two different flying theater ride systems.

Holovis’ Li-Fly and Brogent’s m-Ride take two very different approaches to the flying theater concept.

Holovis unveils Li-Fly

Holovis hosts an in-booth happy hour to celebrate the launch of Li-Fly

Taking a new approach to the flying theater concept, Holovis unveiled Li-Fly, placing riders in a prone position looking forward and down into a projected curved screen. Holovis will develop concept and media production. The ride will be delivered turn-key to operators.

“We looked at how we could take the flying theater experience, which guests love, and enhance it with the latest in technology and simulation,” said Holovis CEO Stuart Hetherington. “In a traditional theater experience you are sitting on the edge of the theater, but Li-Fly puts you right into the middle of the film. It’s a very active experience and thrilling.”

The ride system will function similarly to a B&M flying coaster, where guests sit in a chair that is then ratcheted back up, placing them in a prone “Superman” position. Hetherington acknowledged that the more intimidating style will limit some riders from participating, but explained that the goal was to inject some thrill and excitement into the attraction. He expects the first one to be completed within a year.

Brogent reveals m-Ride

Brogent’s popular flying theater system, i-Ride, has seen installations around the world, including the growing FlyOver attractions. In order to bring a similar experience to venues with smaller budgets, Brogent developed m-Ride.

The ride is offered in 20-, 60- and 78-seat models and is different from i-Ride in two ways. First, instead of pushing the vehicles forward into the theater for the experience, the m-Ride rotates each gondola around into the theater. The m-Ride also does not include a roll movement, but it does include pitch, yaw, heave and surge.

“We kept the core elements of i-Ride and developed a more affordable version that is easy to maintain,” said Brogent’s Stefan Rothaug. The first m-Ride will open in 2019. •

The year of togetherness

ProSlide was touting the recent opening of 15 of their slides at the Atlantis Sanya resort in nearby Hainan Island.

The 15 slides encompass 35 experiences, many of them in hybrid slides, combining major elements into one slide path. The project includes some world firsts for Asia, including China’s first RocketBLAST® and the first fusion of a 40-foot BehemothBOWL™ leading into a 60-foot TORNADO® funnel.

The rides for the park, according to John Collins, ProSlide’s marketing creative director, reflect some major trends in the waterpark business.

“Families in Asia tend to want to experience attractions together,” said Collins. “North American families tend to split up more while at the park, though that trend too is changing as parks everywhere are demanding larger, higher-capacity attractions.”

Waterparks in Asia tend to be set up more for resort travel, rather than just day trips. There is less pressure to cram a lot into a short period, but also a need for having a broad range of experiences available.

“We’ve seen a demand for a family thrill ride category,” explains Collins. A standard family attraction may be not exciting enough for teenagers, but ProSlide feels there is a sweet spot where you can get enough thrill for parents and older kids, while still keeping everyone safe and together. ProSlide introduced several new products this year and expect to develop more in the near future. • • •


Asian Attractions Expo 2018 completes successful run at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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