IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 Breaks Showfloor and Attendance Records
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) concluded its IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 on a high note by shattering its own attendance records and boasting the largest trade show floor in the event’s history.
A record 42,000 global attractions industry professionals from around the world converged Nov. 12-16 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando to learn, buy and network at the annual Expo, which doubled as IAAPA’s centennial celebration.
“There is no better way to celebrate IAAPA’s centennial anniversary than with a remarkable and record-breaking Expo,” said Hal McEvoy, president and CEO of IAAPA, known as the largest international trade association for permanently located attractions.
He continued. “IAAPA’s mission is to connect attractions professionals with each other and with new and innovative ideas. All that and much more happened here in Orlando. It’s been an incredible week!”
Boasting 1,151 exhibiting companies displaying the latest products, technologies and services spanning 600,375 net square feet of exhibition space, the massive showfloor also featured the new Exploration Station, a custom-built outdoor structure with more than 140 exhibitors.
According to IAAPA officials, 26,600 qualified buyers from around the world, including executives from amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers (FECs), zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers, resorts and attractions participated in the Expo, which pumped an estimated $77.2 million into the Orlando-area economy.
Last year, the event drew in 38,161 attendees, including 24,720 buyers, and 1,114 exhibitors to a 576,235 sq. ft. showfloor.
At the show’s conference portion, 15,128 people took advantage of 149 education experiences that included multiple-day institutes and symposia, behind-the-scenes “EDUTours” at area attractions, panel and roundtable discussions, and constituency lunches.
“As usual, the show was non-stop,” said Bob Williams, general manager of Calaway Park in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “We got relevant education that we can actually apply to operations and made valuable connections on the floor with manufacturers.”
He added, “We’re in a growth period as a company and the timing of the show aligned perfectly.”
Other highlights at IAAPA included:
- More than 1,800 people attended the Kickoff Event, the Expo’s official opening session for an update on the state of the industry, to check out new attractions introduced around the world in 2018 and to preview IAAPA’s new logo and global brand, which is set to officially debut Jan. 1.
- More than 3,600 people attended IAAPA Celebrates: IAAPA’s Centennial Celebration at Universal Studios Florida.
- Expo participants raised approximately $120,000 for Give Kids The World through a golf tournament, motorcycle ride, fun run and walk, individual and corporate donations, and hole-in-one challenge.
- Expo participants and IAAPA members raised approximately $50,000 for the IAAPA Foundation through a Silent Auction at the Opening Reception, benefiting programs that support future attractions industry leaders and the Al Weber Scholarship Fund.
- Industry awards presented included the IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards (worldwide industry pioneers and innovators); the IAAPA Service Awards (service to IAAPA and the industry), and the IAAPA Brass Ring Awards (excellence in marketing, retail, live entertainment, human resources, food and beverage, top family entertainment centers, new products and best exhibits).
“It’s been a great show this year,” said David Rosenberg, vice president of guest experience at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Ca. “The floor, the education, the record-breaking attendance: it’s representative of the industry and the direction we’re heading in.”
He added, “This week is setting the groundwork for the next hundred years and to see a show like this, that sets the bar as high as it is, couldn’t be more exciting.”
The IAAPA Expo 2019 will return to the Orange County Convention Center Nov. 18-22.