A Melancholy IAAPA

Standing amidst a chilly corporate convention, I reconsider my IAAPA memories.

From TH Creative
Posted November 14, 2012 at 4:47 PM
Wandering up and down the aisles of this year's IAAPA trade floor the industry seems a bit colder and distant. In a tight marketplace propogating the challenge of tight promotional budgets, I have no doubt that costs for booth space, travel, hotel rooms, load-in, load-out, per diem and entertainment expenses have racheted up the risk for companies making the investment to attend.

But larger than such crass considerations is the absence of community I used to feel. IAAPA no longer seems an essential date to keep on a calendar.

My sentiment is probably an indication of how removed I am from the industry. But I harbor doubts that I could ever find the same great experiences I have had in the past.

In the year 2000 in Atlanta, had a SCREAMING GREAT TIME. The Nassal company's party at a restaurant called Goldfingers. Riding off-the-shelf thrill rides inside the Georgia Dome. And then having the chance to cross paths with Tony Baxter (WDI) who noticed my project team shirt from Men In Black and reported "We rode your attraction three times the other day."

Then there was 2003 in Orlando when I stood on the trade floor with a design manager and company engineer (executive) of a company I can't name. We were watching the Kuka arm in action and imagining the possibilities.

Then there was the confetti incident during a convention get together at the California Grill. Apologies to the staff. I am hopeful we tipped well.

A friend of mine (one of the most creative people I have ever met) and I used to say that IAAPA was the annual event where theme park industry workers would gather and celebrate the fact that they made it through another year without having to get real jobs.

Those were the days.

From Robert Niles
Posted November 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Hi TH,

Sorry I missed you at the show. I think I was at Bob Rogers' session when you were on the floor.

I wonder if the 10-year deal to hold the show in Orlando every year is robbing IAAPA of some of its old liveliness. This is the third year that the show's been in the same place, and I wonder if that's making the show feel a bit stale, as a result.

And, of course, the industry's tightened up considerably since the bubble 2000s, and stricter corporate expense reporting = less fun at conventions.

I found myself doing a lot of work on the show floor trying to set up future stories and making contacts for additional reporting, instead of posting photos and writing notes about various booths, as I've done in the past. Frankly, I just didn't see anything fresh at this year's show that really grabbed me. And I think I've gotten better at shifting what's hype from what's actually likely to show up at a major theme park someday soon.

That said, I do have some leads on what could be HUGE stories for Theme Park Insider in the weeks and months to come. So IAAPA's still a worthwhile stop for me.

From TH Creative
Posted November 24, 2012 at 4:04 PM
I certainly think IAAPA is worthwhile as well.

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