Friday, April 19, 2024

The greatest show: InPark explores IAAPA Expo 2019

By Rona Gindin

ABOVE: Winners of the 2019 IAAPA Brass Ring Awards. Photo by Judith Rubin.

IAAPA kickoff

Emphasizing diversity in its speeches, video presentations and a dance show, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, known as IAAPA, kicked off its annual Expo on November 20, 2019, by emphasizing that it exists to serve more than 1 billion people worldwide who work in the industry. Approximately 42,600 industry professionals attended, visiting the booths of 1,146 exhibitors.

All photos by Rona Gindin unless otherwise noted

IAAPA  Hall of Fame

Two industry pioneers were honored for their work by being named to the IAAPA Hall of Fame. Both were greeted with standing ovations.

Courtesy IAAPA

Frederick “Fred” Langford of WaterWorld Products, New Jersey, developed revolutionary waterslide technology over the years. He’s said to have been the first to build slides with fiberglass instead of concrete. His ideas led to waterslides being elevated without the need for support beams.

Courtesy IAAPA

Alberto Zamperla of Italy’s Antonio Zamperla S.p.A. brought his family business to a new level once he took the helm in 1994, quadrupling output to 200 rides a year. Among Zamperia’s accomplishments are pioneering the donation of attractions for children with disabilities to Give Kids the World, upping international safety manufacturing standards to his China factory, and founding the European Suppliers Association that was the basis of what is now IAAPA Expo Europe.

Welcoming Chair Amanda Thompson

Amanda Thompson OBE has been installed as chair of the IAAPA board of directors, succeeding David Rosenberg of Monterey Bay Aquarium in the role. Thompson is managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the United Kingdom. Her business has been in the family since her grandfather started it in 1896. Thompson also founded  the entertainment company Stageworks Worldwide Productions and is producer and director of Blackpool’s Hot Ice Show, and others in past years.

Alterface will evolve its Popcorn Revenge IP

Alterface will add merchandise to its Popcorn Revenge, part of a movement that will morph its award-winning dark ride at Walibi Belgium into a Popcorn Universe – themed lands of various sizes built around the Popcorn Revenge story. At the IAAPA 2109 Expo, CEO and Founder Benoit Cornet discussed the wide appeal of the popcorn storyline. “We discovered that popcorn is more universal than we were expecting,” he said, noting that the theming can be applied to various types of rides.

At a press event, the company displayed plush and other popcorn-themed retail items. Alterface has partnered with King Concept to create scalable design options that can accommodate hundreds to thousands of guests. The ride uses the company’s Erratic Ride technology, which has grown technologically since its introduction 15 years ago, according to Cornet. For example, today such rides offer faster play, can accommodate larger numbers of guests playing at once, and use wireless tech.

SeaWorld unveils new ride vehicles

During the IAAPA Expo, SeaWorld unveiled new vehicles that will be used in park rides in the near future.

Premier Rides helped introduce The Ice Breaker, a quadruple launch racer that will appear at SeaWorld Orlando in spring 2020. The ride will go forward, backward and forward again, with 16 hits of air time, meaning riders will be in and out of their seats continuously. The experience will include a 93-foot vertical spike tilted 100 degrees.

Rocky Mountain Construction assisted in developing the green, crocodile-themed vehicle to be used in Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The ride will be a hybrid of steel and wood, reaching 200+ feet.

At SeaWorld San Antonio, the Texas Stingray will feature a vehicle that looks like the namesake sea creature. The roller coaster is being billed as the longest, fastest and tallest such in Texas. It was created by Great Coasters International.

LEGOLAND New York ride will make LEGO replicas of riders

When LEGOLAND New York Resort opens in July 2020, it will feature a unique dark ride platform that takes cues from riders’ physical features to visualize them as virtual LEGO Minifigures.

The company announced the ride, LEGO Factory Adventure Ride, along with co-creators Holovis (ride creation) and ETF (ride vehicles) at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando. The immersive ride will have 19 vehicles and be themed around a real, highly automated LEGO factory in Denmark. It is touted as being fully accessible for riders with disabilities. At ride’s end, each rider will see a character with his or her own hairstyle, glasses if appropriate and clothing color.

LEGOLAND New York Resort will be a 160-acre park in the Hudson Valley north of New York City. A 250-room hotel with four themes will be added in 2021.

LEGOLAND New York pres conference in a dark ride car
Brogent heads to NYC, adds racing concept

After a busy year of opening rides around the world in 2019, Brogent Technologies Inc. hints at innovative additions in the coming months too.

Not long after opening THE LEGO MOVIE Masters of Flight m-Ride at Legoland Florida, Brogent plans to open another version “in the heart of Times Square” in 2020, Director of  Innovation Andy Kiang reported at a  news conference held during the IAAPA Expo. Running Subway Productions, an entertainment company based in New York, is a partner for what is expected to establish a flagship of Brogent’s flying theater attractions. Further details are not yet available. Five additional m-Rides are planned for elsewhere around the globe next year.

A new turnkey entertainment complex is also on the horizon. The crux will be an indoor racing car game. “Instead of a track you’ll be racing on a simulator,” Kiang explained, noting that a simulator is safer than real cars, which in turn lowers insurance costs.

The simulators – sleek in look – will be the center of a complete entertainment concept that will include entertainment, and food and beverage areas as chosen by the owners.

Model courtesy Brogent

VR game by MajorMega will join Hersheypark Expansion

The virtual reality studio MajorMega will team with Hersheypark to create a virtual reality attraction within the Pennsylvania theme park’s 23-acre Hershey’s Chocolatetown addition, scheduled to open in summer 2020. The partnership was announced at the IAAPA Expo.

The attraction, called Hyperdeck and accommodating up to eight players, will be immersive with heat, forceful winds, floor motions and more. Guests, or parents, waiting can participate outside on tablets tied into the game. Chocolatetown will also have the Candymonium coaster and a full-service restaurant and bar.

Images courtesy Hersheypark

Infinite Kingdoms’ Ancient Lore Village to be an immersive attraction/resort combo

Ancient Lore Village is a resort designed to resemble an ancient community that will use sophisticated technology to blend old and new and personalize the guest experience. “The technology will be behind the curtain,” explained Denise Chapman Weston, chief inventor of Infinite Kingdoms, which is developing the new property with Weber Group. “You never see it. You never feel it.” The resort is scheduled to open in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2020.

Each group of guests will lodge in an interactive tree house and will carry a glowing orb, which will perform magic-like functions such as opening a treasure chest. Low-tech communication is a focus, such as all guests gathering around a fireplace in the evening, and participants performing physical activities. New game technologies including Magic Campfire, DigiMe and Infinite Tracking will be platforms via which surprises occur.

Courtesy Infinite Kingdoms
Omni Arena’s Elite Force

Elite Force, a new military-style game for the Omni Arena virtual reality attraction, was unveiled at the IAAPA Expo. With Elite Force, up to four players battle for special weapons in a player-vs.-player format. Esports competition is available via a pool by HP and Virtuix. Omni Arena is a full-body VR product in which players can walk and run as in laser tag. It can be part of a family entertainment center.

Courtesy Omni Arena
CAVU introduces self-driving dark ride vehicles

Rather than reinvent the wheel, so to speak, attractions provider CAVU Designwerks has developed an autonomous vehicle for dark rides. It’s based on technology already used in manufacturing warehouses. “CAVU’s method of developing a new ride system is to take an existing proven technology and integrate that into our rides,“ said Mark Stepanian, VP innovation and engineering.

Called SDV, for Self-Driving Vehicle, CAVU’s cars need no external navigation to avoid obstacles such as scenic sets or other vehicles.

The SDV comes in a Standard model, for eight passengers. It moves forwards, backwards and in a full circle. The Plus model, with six seats, has 3 DOF motion with pitch. It will also heave and roll, and has onboard special effects. Customization is available.

Saudi Arabia’s SEVEN building multiple entertainment clusters

A year ago, IAAPA Expo was abuzz with news that plans were afoot to build a slew of family entertainment centers including movie theaters throughout the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The nationwide project is being pursued by Saudi Entertainment Ventures, known as SEVEN.

The SEVEN team is currently engaged in shopping for components of these parks. The plan is to invest US $64 billion in 72 leisure and entertainment complexes by 2030, with an average size of 160,000+ square feet, explained CEO Bill Ernest, a Disney veteran. Here are some highlights.

Tourists are welcome. It used to be nearly impossible to vacation in Saudi Arabia, but a recently launched online tourist visa program allows people from 49 countries, including the United States, to get the right paperwork done in seconds.

Locals are the right demographic. Nearly 60 percent of the 34 million Saudis are under age 30, reports Ernest, with discretionary income and the desire to have access at home to diversions they’ve experienced in Orlando and in neighboring countries. The goal is to ultimately serve more than 50 million Saudis and visitors each year.

Each cluster will be like a cruise ship on land. Each family entertainment center will have areas targeting visitors of various ages, such as water parks, fitness centers, craft programs, amusement parks, augmented reality facilities, sports areas, scuba diving, live entertainment, restaurants and of course the multi-screen cinemas, which will be affiliated with the AMC chain. (Saudi Arabia is allowing cinemas for the first time in 35 years.) The hope is that each age group will pursue appropriate activities, then gather for a meal onsite together. Each will embrace elements of the local community, and will be comprised half of entertainment facilities, 30 percent foodservice and 20 percent retail.

WhiteWater grows in all directions

New flooring, new rides and new water park projects – one on a cruise ship – led executives of the water slide specialist WhiteWater to share all sorts of news at a press conference at the IAAPA Expo.


SlideWheel sensation: With its rotating flumes, the SlideWheel has been a hit internationally. Now WhiteWater will install one in North America. The 72-foot product with AquaLucent sections and four-person rafts will make its debut at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. It will be called Hercules and will open in 2021.

Tailspin time: Likewise, North America will receive its first dual Tailspin ride when the Solar Vortex debuts at Tampa Bay, Florida’s Adventure Island in spring 2020. The family ride will bring thrill-seekers swirling around tight corners as cheerful colors shine through AquaLucent sections.

Tonga to tango: In spring 2020, Aquatica San Antonio will be home to the Tonga Twister, a body slide patterned lighting areas thanks to translucent technology. Two 415-foot, unique body slides will sport engaging light patterns, a Polynesian vibe and energetic music piped in.

Soft landings: WhiteWater has a partnership with Life Floor, the first surface that meets all the new safety requirements set by NSF/IANSI 50. The new product resists slips, chemicals and UV rays. It’s impermeable, absorbs impact and is easy to clean.

Sea ahoy: On Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras cruise ship, sailing in 2020, WhiteWater is currently working on the WaterWorks onboard water park.

On the road: WhiteWater is announcing a worldwide licensing agreement with RCI for its  New Destination Series, which is an adventure play product line. The climbing-focused products include an amphitheater, a monument and a stadium. The line is an evolution of the No Boundaries products.

Safety first: Whitewater and the safety management company Mobaro have teamed up. WhiteWater clients will get discounts on Mobaro products and a two-month trial of its safety platform, among other alliances.

Arihant rolls out plug and play water structures

India-based Arihant builds entire water parks, with 500+ projects in 59 countries to its name. Two new developments announced at the IAAPA Expo are for easy-to-install ready-made water play areas.

The Treasure Ship is a pirate-themed waterplay structure that comes at one set price, said Chief Operating Officer Jagat Parikh. It’s made of fiberglass with steel structures inside, and comes with canopies, slides and tipping buckets. There’s room inside to walk around, and that can be customized.

Separately, Arihant now offers Rain Dance water spray areas with theming packages. The same play area can be look Western, like a circus, like a jungle or a castle, Parikh indicates. “Park operators want value for their money,” he said. “They don’t want to invest in one thing and get stuck with it. With Rain Dance, they can create new experiences with the same ride.”

Katmandu and Falcon’s team up to grow Katmandu micro theme parks

Two Orlando-based companies have partnered up to bring Katmandu, a “micro” Nepal-theme park concept with two locations in Spain, to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, with hopes of further expansion. The parks, at 6 to 10 acres, are designed to complement family beach vacations and urban settings. “Our stories are based on wonder, myth and adventure,” said Julia Demerau, co-founder of Katmandu Ventures.

The Punta Cana park will debut in 2020 with new attractions from Falcon’s Licensing, a company of Orlando’s creative content strategy firm Falcon’s Creative Group: Quest for the Multiverse, the signature attraction, here updated by Falcon’s, and a Suspended Theater flying theater experience. A dark ride called The Legend of Katmandu will also be created. Expedition Golf will be a putt-putt course resembling Nepal’s mountainous terrain.

Lagotronics brings Smurfs ride to Shanghai

The Smurfs GameChanger will roll into Shanghai’s Shimao’s Smurfs theme park when the park – part of Shimao Dream City Them Park – opens  later this year in Shanghai. Lagotronics created this iteration of its immersive GameChanger dark ride with its partner Ride Entertainment. The compact product – 12 meters by 12 meters with a 4-meter ceiling – will have four interactive themes, executives explained at an IAAPA Expo press conference. Lagotronics created the ride system, audio, lighting, Smurfs ride, ride and show control, interactive system and special effects, said Adam Sandy, president of ride entertainment business development.

Tech, Ads, Retail and More Awarded 2019 IAAPA Brass Rings

Innovation and quality are huge parts of the every-changing attractions industry, and IAAPA, the global association for the industry, recognizes excellence across the board with its annual Brass Ring Awards. Here’s who took home that top prize in the entertainment and attractions sectors during the 2019 IAAPA Expo.

Top Family Entertainment Center (FEC) of the World 
Cinergy Entertainment Amarillo, Amarillo, Texas, United States

Live Entertainment Excellence

Best Atmosphere/Street Show Performance/Act: “Green Army Drum Corps,” Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Parks Live Entertainment, Orlando, Florida, United States

Best Performer: Annie Huckaba, Dollywood Theme Park, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, United States

Best Live “Edutainment” Show: “Hershey’s Unwrapped,”Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States

Best Theatrical Production: Annual Attendance More than 1 Million:Legend of Camel Bells,” Huaxia Cultural Resort – Xi’an, Shanxi Province, China 

Legend of Camel Bells team with Brass Ring Award. Photo by Judith Rubin.

Most Creative Christmas Show: “Up on the Rooftop,” Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States

Most Creative Halloween Haunt, Show, or Experience: “Below,” Walibi Holland, Biddinghuizen, Netherlands

Most Creative Multimedia Spectacular: “Dancing Islands,” Fantawild International Limited, Shenzhen, China

Most Creative Property-wide Event: Annual Attendance Less than 1 Million: “Winterfest,” Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Most Creative Property-wide Event: Annual Attendance More than 1 Million: “SeaWorld Christmas Celebration,” SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Florida, United States

Most Creative Show Featuring Animals: “Sea Lions Tonite,” SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Florida, United States

Most Creative Sports/Stunt Show: “Paddington on Ice – the Grand Voyage,” Europa-Park, Rust, Germany

Spirit Award 

The Spirit Award is given to the most outstanding person who works behind-the-scenes to support high-quality entertainment value of the nominating attraction. This year’s Spirit Award went to Katja Mack, Europa-Park, Rust, Germany

Excellence in Marketing

Best Digital Marketing Campaign: “Snake,” Gröna Lund, Stockholm, Sweden

Best Integrated Marketing Campaign: “Skin Exhibit Integrate Campaign,” California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California, United States

Best Outdoor Advertisement: “2018 San Diego Zoo Jungle Bells Campaign,” San Diego Zoo Global, San Diego, California, United States

Best Public Relations Campaign: “Six Flags St. Louis – Coffin Challenge,” Six Flags St. Louis, Eureka, Missouri, United States

Best Radio or Streaming Audio Commercial: “Dino Roar Valley,” Dino Roar Valley, Lake George, New York, United States

Best Social Media Campaign: “You Can’t Do This At Home Campaign,” Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri, United States

Best Television or Digital Video Commercial – Annual Attendance Less than 250,000: “Stupet – Where Heroes are Born,” Rogaland Fritidspark AS – Kongeparken, Ålgård, Norway

Best Television or Digital Video Commercial: Annual Attendance 250,000 – 1 Million: “Be A Kid With Your Kid,” Silverwood Theme Park, Athol, Idaho, United States

Best Television or Digital Video Commercial – Annual Attendance More than 1 Million: “Skin Exhibit Advertising Campaign,” California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, California, United States


Major Ride/Attraction (Product cost of US$5 million or more) 
First Place:
  Intamin Ltd., Booth 3424, Dueling LSM Triple Launch Coaster – Dueling Dragons 
Second Place: Dynamic Attractions, Booth 1358, Batman: Knight Flight – Robotic Arm Ride with updated Track Switches 

Major Ride/Attraction (Product cost of US$2 to US$5 million) 
First Place:
 WhiteWater Attractions, Booth 2254, Spinning Rapids Ride 
Second Place:  Zamperla, Booth 2024 and 2031, Super Air Race

Major Ride/Attraction (Product cost less than US$2 million) 
First Place:
 Zamperla, Booth 2024 and 2031, Nebulaz 
Second Place: Ride Engineers Switzerland, Booth 3472, Rollerball M 

Kiddie Ride/Attraction 
First Place:  Treetop Trekking, Booth E7421, TreeWalk Village 
Second Place:  Eurogames SRL, Booth 3869, BIG CAR OUTLANDER 

Water Park Ride/Attraction (Product cost of less than US$1 million) 
First Place:
 WhiteWater, Booth 2250, Tailspin 

Water Park Ride/Attraction (Product cost of US $1 million or more) 
First Place:
  ProSlide Technology, Inc., Booth 1838 and 2035, Dueling PIPElineBLAST / FlyingSAUCER 
Second Place:  WhiteWater, Booth 2250, Over/Under 

Patron Participation Ride/Attraction 
First Place: VR Coaster GmbH & Co. KG, Booth 2669, VR Bumper Cars 
Second Place:  Ice-World International, Booth 2772, IceByk® 

Technology Applied to Amusements (Product or Service used by Consumers) 
First Place:
 Pool Safe Inc., Booth 3236, PoolSafe 
Second Place: Convergence, LLC, Booth 2684, Automatic Itinerary Planner for Handling Timed-ticket Packages in Web/POS/Kiosk 

Technology Applied to Amusements (Product or Service used by Facilities) 
First Place:
 Dynamic Attractions, Booth 1358, Loading / Unloading system 
Second Place: Valo Motion, Booth E7141, Super Stomp 

Services, Equipment & Supplies 
First Place:  Redemption Plus, Booth 224, Redemption Plus Service Packages 
Second Place:  Bouncy Castle Network, Booth 5475, Bouncy Castle Network Booking System   

Best New Product Concept Award: Major Ride Attraction            
First Place:  Wiegand Josef GMBH & Co. KG, Booth 3486, SlideCoaster 
Second Place: Delta Strike International Ltd, Booth 3815, Genesis Laser Tag Equipment   

Best New Product Concept Award: Major Ride/Attraction 
First Place: Holovis, Booth 1378, Li-Fly 
Second Place:  Polin Waterparks, Booth 847, Time Rider 

Best New Product Concept Award: Other Product/Service 
First Place:  Gatemaster Technology Corporation, Booth 3165, ParkTrainer 
Second Place:  Holovis, Booth 1378, HoloTrac

IMPACT AWARD WINNERProSlide Technology Inc., Booth1838, 2035

IAAPA recognized the 2019 IAAPA Service Award winners and the 2019 Young Professional of the Year Award winner during the annual GM and Owners’ Breakfast at IAAPA Expo 2019 on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

IAAPA honors service standouts, young professional

IAAPA called out members who offered outstanding service over the years during its 2019 Expo, and also handed an award to the year’s Young Professional.

This year’s IAAPA Service Awards went to the following individuals.:

Greg O’Neill of Leisure and Amusement Services, Queensland, Australia

Geoff Chutter of WhiteWater, British Columbia, Canada

Ash Smart, ICAE, of Harbour Park, Littlehampton, United Kingdom.

A special Service Award was given earlier in the week to Hank Salemi, park president of Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, Illinois, United States, with a special Service Award.

Encouraging young professionals who show noteworthy dedication to the industry, IAAPA chose one recipient to receive the 2019 distinction. That is Michael Browning, who is founder and CEO of the Urban Air Adventure Park in Dallas, Texas. His 9-year-old concept is now franchised in 200 U.S. locations. His The Chosen Ones Birthday Wish Program  helps homeless children receive birthday parties at Urban Air facilities.

Polin adds a waterside, an AI photo service and more

With the aim of displaying its goal of being the “largest single-source supplier” of waterpark features to park operators, the Turkey-based Polin Group family of brands highlighted new offerings on Wednesday, November 20, at the IAAPA Expo. Polin has offices in 18 countries and 21 manufacturing facilities.

Introducing Time Rider

Time Rider is a new zero-gravity water slide that features the world’s largest bowl. At nearly 60 feet tall, it has four paths for a variety of experiences, and, on its wormhole (observational walkway), has dazzling lighting effects and a water sprays. Rafts are for six riders. VR applications add-ons are available, as is a transparent “glassy” fiberglass finish.

Courtesy Polin
Splash Bucket All Can

These colorful seats on wheels are designed to play games in waterplay areas. They’re completely accessible for people in wheelchairs, who can interact easily with those who don’t have physical disabilities. The first installation was in Istanbul’s Tuzla Marina Waterpark in July 2019.

AI Pix

Park operators can make additional money from existing customers by adding AI Pix to their offerings, say Polin spokespeople. Driven by Pomvom Experience technology, AI Pix enables guests at any waterpark to get photos of themselves to share on social media. Using facial recognition software, AI Pix uses an initial selfie to recognize each guest, then present each participant with a range of images, including those take while on waterslides, to be available to buy, share, or download. • • •

Rona Gindin ([email protected]), joined the InPark community of contributors in November 2017. Rona writes about tourism, business, travel, restaurants, lifestyle issues and the leisure industry. Her work has appeared in Zagat,, Brides, Parenting, Endless Vacation and other publications and websites

Rona Gindin
Rona Gindin
InPark is pleased to welcome Rona Gindin ([email protected]), who joined our community of contributors in November 2017. Rona writes about tourism, business, travel, restaurant and lifestyle issues. Her work has appeared in Zagat,, Brides, Parenting, Endless Vacation and other publications and websites.

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