It's the most wonderful week of the year for theme park geeks

November 13, 2017, 8:41 AM · ORLANDO — It's IAAPA week once again in Central Florida. The annual IAAPA Attractions Expo kicks off today at the Orange County Convention Center, with the trade show floor opening tomorrow morning.

This is the largest annual industry gathering in the theme park business, bringing tens of thousands of park owners, managers, designers, and vendors to Orlando to show, sell, buy and announce a lot of the new stuff that you will be seeing in theme and amusement parks and family entertainment centers near you and around the world in the next few years.

In addition to the action on the show floor, IAAPA brings together industry experts for hundreds of panel discussions and seminars during the event. Our favorite is always Bob Rogers' Legends panel, which this year extends its traditional focus on Disney to include creative leadership from Universal's theme parks. Universal Creative's Thierry Coup will join Walt Disney Imagineering's Joe Rohde and Scott Trowbridge to talk about adapting the world's most popular IPs into theme park attractions.

Coup has handled Harry Potter, Transformers, Fast & Furious and Marvel for Universal, while Rohde has worked on Avatar and Marvel for Disney, and Trowbridge runs point for Disney on Star Wars. We will be covering the panel on Wednesday afternoon and bringing you the highlights here.

We won't be ignoring the show floor, however. You're going to hear and see a lot of announcements on social media over the next few days, so here's some advice to help you put that news into the proper perspective. If a manufacturer announces something, that just means that they are making their new thing available for sale. It does not mean that anyone has bought it yet or that it will be coming to a theme park anytime soon. Only when a park makes an announcement can you be reasonably assured that the attraction is on its way to installation.

Almost all the news you will hear during IAAPA will be manufacturer announcements. Disney and Universal almost never announce anything at IAAPA. Six Flags has adopted the custom of dropping all its new attraction announcements at the start of the Labor Day Weekend. And the Cedar Fair and Herschend parks save their coaster announcements for National Roller Coaster Day in August. But a few parks and the their manufacturer partners will be unveiling coaster trains at IAAPA, so the week won't be bereft of news of actual new attractions.

And even if manufacturer announcements doesn't lead immediately to new rides and shows, it's fun to see where creative minds in this business are trying to take the industry with new designs.

It's not all about the iron, however. Vendors use this week to roll out a whole bunch of food and beverage treats that they will be trying to see to the parks to sell to you, which helps make IAAPA the best-smelling industry convention ever. (Well, at least once the new-carpet smell wears off early Tuesday morning.) The longest lines at IAAPA will be at the food and beverage vendor booths handing out free samples of their pizza, hot dogs, deep-fried dough, frozen novelties, and whatever else their mad food scientists have crafted over the past year.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all our pics, and we will post our reviews of the week here on the website, too. Then we will wrap the week with holiday and new attraction previews from Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Walt Disney World.

It's a great week to be a theme park fan!

Replies (3)

November 13, 2017 at 9:06 AM · Thanks, Robert. Wish we were there. Please keep us in the loop.
November 13, 2017 at 2:46 PM · Best part of IAAPA is finding that one, new truly bizarre twisted an unusual thing each year. I'll never forget seeing the combination Claw game/Lobster tank several years ago. I never saw one in practical use, but I really hoped to. Help us Robert - we are relying on you to find this year's combination claw game/ lobster tank. Photos and details of all the really weird stuff please.
November 13, 2017 at 3:35 PM · Will there be an article from TPI on the event?

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