Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

IAAPA Attractions Expo

Orlando event imminent

What will you be doing the third week in November? Well over 20,000 of you will be visiting Florida for the amusement industry’s largest annual get-together, IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. Park World previews the week’s events.

With in excess of 1,000 exhibitors, the Expo is still the industry’s largest trade show, occupying over 500,000 net square feet of exhibit space. “It’s the place where the deals are made that shape the world’s attractions for many years to come,” notes IAAPA’s president and CEO, Charlie Bray.

The show itself starts on Tuesday, November 18, with the Kickoff Event, a whistle-stop tour of new attractions and projects from around the world, presented in showbiz style. During the 75-minute production, IAAPA will also announce the latest inductees into its amusement industry Hall of Fame.

Starting a day ahead of this will be a comprehensive education programme. More than 90 sessions are promised this year, ranging from in-depth single and multi-day programmes to several hour-and-a-half-long seminars, roundtable discussions and lunch presentations. Many of these shorter sessions are free to IAAPA members once they have paid their main Expo registration fee.

Addressing this year’s General Managers and Owners’ Breakfast on Wednesday morning will be Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, who will explain how the group has expanded in such a short time to become one of the world’s top attractions operators, second only to Disney. During the event, tickets to which are $85, the IAAPA Service Awards will also be presented, one of several awards during the event.

Industry events like this, of course, are also a great way of catching up with colleagues and making new and acquaintances and business contacts. Official IAAPA social events include the Tuesday night Opening Reception and Thursday’s big Gala event, which will include a Give Kids The World auction, a performance by quick change artists from America’s Got Talent; a live band and dancing ‘til Midnight. Tickets are $150 and both functions will take place inside the Orange County Convention Center. A number of networking breakfasts and exhibitor parties will also take place during the Expo.

Those arriving in Orlando early may like to improve their handicap at Sunday’s Give Kids The World Golf Tournament and raise some funds for this worthy cause in the process.


Visitors wanting to sample Orlando’s parks and attractions, or simply bring the family out for an mini vacation, are urged to make the most of it as next year IAAPA Attractions Expo moves to Las Vegas. Behind-the-scenes tours have been arranged at nearby attractions including Aquatica, Busch Gardens, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, SeaWorld and the Kennedy Space Center.

IAAPA Attractions Expo takes place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from Tuesday to Friday, November 18 to 21. For registration details visit:




Sunday to Tuesday, November 16 to 18

Institute for Emerging Leaders

This two-and-a-half-day course is designed to provide a broad base of knowledge for up-and-coming amusement industry leaders. Moderated by industry veterans Vic Nolting of Coney Island and Tim Ruedy from NASCAR Speed Parks and taught by experts Neva Richardsen-Larson of The Sims Group, Cindy Farkas from Hershey Entertainment and Bret Pfost of Disneyland, this course will provide an overview of the key disciplines required to run a successful attraction. The fee is Fee $450 for IAAPA members, or $650 for non-members.

Monday, November 17

Lunch and Learn: Adapting to a Dynamic Global Environment

Based on a similar session delivered this summer at IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo in Macau, Ocean Park CEO Tom Mehrmann will reveal how his team turned the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland into an opportunity and broke attendance and revenue records for five consecutive years.

Tuesday, November 18

After Disney

Former Disney executives speak with legendary Imagineer Marty Sklar on their experiences after leaving the organisation.

Wednesday, November 19

Lunch with Dick Kinzel

The president and CEO of Cedar Fair will share his wisdom and insights on the amusement industry with the Small Parks and Attractions Committee.

Thursday, November 20

Small Parks and Attractions Committee’s Top Ten

Each committee member will present their top ideas for revenue generation, operations, guerrilla marketing, sales and more. Speakers include Dan Aylward, Cecilia Chavez, John Chidester, Talley Green, Ron Gustafson, Cory Luster, John Norris and Bob Williams.

More than education 90 sessions are planned in total as part of this years’ IAAPA Attractions Expo. For details on the rest of the programme, or times of any of the sessions listed above, visit:

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