IAAPA 2022

Mark Lofthouse

Creative Operations Manager at The Business Creative

November 29, 2022

Another year, another IAAPA has been and gone.

The prestigious theme park trade show, held in Orlando, Florida, boasts over 515,000 sq.ft of delicious theme park goodness.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide, representing more than 6,000 facilities, suppliers and individual members from more than 100m countries.

Every year, the association hosts their grand ‘Expo’, which is a gathering point for who’s who of theme parks and entertainment experiences – a show floor full to the brim of the newest technology, rides, leisure facilities and experiences.

I’m a huge theme park fan and sadly this year I couldn’t make it to the Expo, but thanks to the world of social media that we now live in, felt like I was on that very show floor.

We’re going to take a look at some of the big announcements, trends and news to come from the show floor, starting with:

TRAINS

No, not the ones that you commute to work on every morning, but coaster trains! Every year we can expect a new theme park to reveal their new coaster’s train design – and this year was absolutely no exception. Over 10 different train designs were revealed during the event, with some really creative and artistic train designs. It’s always a highlight to see. My favourites were Dollywood’s new Big Bear Mountain’s train, and Mattel Adventure Park’s Boneshaker reveals *chefs kiss*.

YEAR OF THE IP

What’s an ‘IP’ I hear you ask. Well, it stands for Intellectual Property – licences. From Mattel through to Flintstones and Masters of the Universe, the show floor was filled with characters, meet and greets, and some inside info about new attractions and locations opening that utilise branded IPs. It was quite evident that this world of branded experiences, location-based entertainment, and brand-licences FECs is on the increase, and I’m so excited to see what’s next.

SHOCK ANNOUNCEMENT

One of the big announcements came courtesy of a roller caster manufacturer named Premier Rides. The date and time was set, a big announcement about a ‘legendary’ roller coaster was on the cards – the theme park enthusiast world was set alight! Many expected an announcement about the company being involved with the refurbishment of Top Thrill Dragster, the world’s second tallest coaster … but was that about to happen?

No! Instead, the company announced the retelling of a classic roller coaster, the Wild Cat, from legendary manufacturer Schwarzkopf –  even better, they’re working with a relative of the original company founder, Anton Schwarzkopf.

If you’re a theme park fan like I am, you really need to go to the IAAPA Expo, or at least follow them on socials like I do. Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at some of the entertainment-related news that cropped up during the event.

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