Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2007

It’s back to Orlando for IAAPA Attractions Expo this November. After two years in Atlanta, the industry’s biggest trade show takes place at the Orange County Convention Center from Tuesday to Friday, November 13 to 16, with more than 1,100 exhibitors. Yet there’s also plenty going on away from the show floor, as we reveal here.

Conference highlights

Educational opportunities are wide and varied at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2007, with the supporting conference beginning the day before the trade show on Monday, November 12.

Ahead of that, a new two-and-a-half day programme (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) called the Institute for Emerging Leaders is designed for dedicated industry professionals with at least three years experience and the desire to be part of a senior management team. Fees are $600 for IAAPA members and $900 for non-members and pre-registration is essential.

IAAPA’s Attractions Management School, meanwhile, is composed of six comprehensive one-day seminars designed to improve attendees’ understanding of the following areas: Marketing, public relations, operations, guest services, loss prevention and safety. Courses take place beginning Monday and the fee to take part is $210 for IAAPA members and $335 for non-members per session.

Most of IAAPA’s general seminars take place inside the Orange County Convention Centre and are free to exhibition attendees. Highlights among the 96 sessions include Highlights of Disney Operations, A Panel Discussion with Disney’s Top Leaders at 9.35am on Monday; Merchandising Mid-Way Games Areas, Tips, Ticks and Techniques at 4.30pm on Tuesday; and The 2007 IAAPA Classic Faceoff – Creatives Vs Operators Vs Number Crunchers at 4.30pm on Wednesday, when three of the original giants who shaped Disneyland and Disney World. Chaired by Bob Rogers of BRC Imagination Arts, the contributors will be Dick Nunis, Harrison ‘Buzz’ Price and Mart Sklar.

Hit the parks

Orlando is often described as the spiritual home of the theme park. During this year’s Attractions Expo, IAAPA is arranging behind-the-scenes tours of a number of leading facilities. On Tuesday morning, there will be a Retail and Midway Games Tour of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Universal Orlando Resort. Later the same day, guests will be able to go behind-the-scenes of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.

On Wednesday morning, a tour will undertaken at Universal Orlando, giving a detailed glimpse into the Human Resources department of this major resort. The following morning, there will be an opportunity for waterpark professionals to visit the Nickelodeon Family Suites Hotel, which features Orlando’s latest waterpark attraction. Nickelodeon’s aquatics director will cover the details involved in combining hotel and waterpark operations.

Then, on Thursday night at Universal Orlando, IAAPA and the International Association of Haunted Attractions (IAHA) are offering a unique look behind the resort’s famed Halloween Horror Nights. Guests, who must be over 16, will be guided through a number of haunted house and maze experiences by Universal’s creative team.

IAAPA is also encouraging those stopping on and visiting parks in their own time to consider some of the less obvious attractions, like Fun Spot Action Park, Daytona International Speedway, Ron Jon Surfpark, Gatorland, Dinosaur World, Fantasy of Flight, or SkyVenture, Orlando’s high-energy vertical wind tunnel.

Make the most of breakfast

Early-risers will benefit from some extra education and networking opportunities at IAAPA Attractions Expo. Members from Europe or Asia respectively, can attend a dedicated breakfast event inside the Orange County Convention Center from 8.45 onwards on the first day of the show, Tuesday, November 13. This will be followed immediately afterwards by the IAAPA Kick Off Event at 10am, which will highlight successful industry projects, technologies and trends from the past 12 months, while offering a tantalising peek into the year ahead. The event will also honour the 2007 IAAPA Hall of Fame inductees.

On Thursday morning, Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Resort, will present the keynote address at this year’s General Managers and Owners Breakfast. Her topic will be “Creating The Year of a Million Dreams and the Future Disney Park Experience.” The event takes place at 8.30am in Orange County Convention Center, and space is limited.

IAAPA after dark

IAAPA is planning a number of official social engagements most nights after the show. On the eve of the event, the invitation-only Chairman’s Reception at the Peabody Hotel will be one of the first official events for incoming chair Bob Masterson of Ripley Entertainment. On Tuesday night, at the Convention Center itself, the IAAPA Welcome Reception takes place from 6 to 8pm.

On Wednesday night, waterpark professional are invited to attend the Waterpark Social at Wet ‘n’ Wild as friends old and new relax on the Wave Deck at this pioneering attraction. During the evening the 2007 Must-See Waterpark Awards will be presented. The Thursday Night Social has been replaced this year by the Thursday Night Gala (see panel below). There are also expected to be a number of exhibitor parties, so keep your ears close to the ground.

Plans for Thursday night?

The Thursday Night Socials held each year at a local park were once a popular part of the IAAPA programme in Orlando, but in recent years they had escalated in cost and arguably decreased in value. Sensibly, perhaps, IAAPA has dropped the event this year: There simply wasn’t enough time to eat drink, ride and socialise all in one night and attendees are probably better off visiting the parks in their own time. In the Social’s place will comes the Thursday Night Gala, at the Orange County Convention Center. Hosted by Ripley Entertainment, the event will include also include the 3rd Annual Give Kids The World (GKTW) Live Auction. Tickets to the Gala are at all time high, $150, again in aid of GKTW. Those choosing not to attend will find plenty of other opportunities to support the charity during the week.

Raise money, stay fit

IAAPA attendees are being encouraged to participate in two sporting/social fixtures to raise money for Give Kids The World (GKTW). The IAAPA/GKTW Inaugural 5K Run and 1K Fun Walk takes place on Thursday morning, November 15, at SeaWorld and, other than the 7.30am start, there’s no excuse for not doing at least the walk. After all, most visitors will do several kilometres just walking up and down the trade show floor! Meanwhile the now established IAAPA Charity International Golf Tournament, takes place ahead of the exhibition, this time on Sunday, November 11 at the Mystic Dunes Golf Club in Kissimmee.

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