ORLANDO, FL -- Some 25,000 participants from 96 nations registered for this year's IAAPA Attractions Expo held here at the Orange County Convention Center from Nov. 15 to 19, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the trade show's sponsor and owner. Last year's show, held in Las Vegas, drew about 24,000 people from 108 nations.
At this year's trade show, according to IAAPA, the number of buyers was about 14,800, compared with 14,700 last year. Those buyers came from 6,484 amusement parks, waterparks, family entertainment centers (FECs), zoos, aquariums, museums, resorts, independent attractions and casinos, the association reported. Also attending were several coin-op amusement operations.
IAAPA Attractions Expo is the world's largest conference and trade show for the $24 billion attractions and amusement parks industry. The Orange County Convention Center estimated that the five-day event had a $47.7 million economic impact on the Orlando/Orange County region. IAAPA recently announced plans to host its annual trade show in Orlando for the next 10 years, from 2010 to 2019.
"It's good to be back home here in Orlando," said IAAPA president and chief executive Charles Bray. "We've had a great show. There's an overall sense of optimism in the industry. Exhibit sales were strong and attractions industry leaders came here to buy. We had outstanding participation in our education conference and the social events were a big hit. I think these results reinforce the fact that Orlando is the right location for the IAAPA Attractions Expo."
IAAPA trade show and convention-goers took part in 104 education programs, including presentations on industry trends, behind-the-scenes tours at Orlando attractions, all-day institute sessions and show floor vendor tours. IAAPA said that 8,800 people participated in the programs. Two highlights of this year's educational conference included the Rookies and Newcomers program for FECs and a social media symposium. Sixty-eight people attended the day-and-a-half-long FEC program, and 520 partook in the social media symposium.
Exhibits from 1,140 companies filled the north and south halls of the Orange County Convention Center, compared with 1,074 in 2009 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a 3% drop. This year's show floor occupied about 453,100 net square feet, IAAPA said. Exhibitors hailed from 33 countries.
A standing room only crowd of more than 1,400 people attended IAAPA's kickoff event and 850 went to an opening reception. A sellout crowd of 400 heard the keynote address by Universal Parks and Resorts chairman and chief executive Tom Williams at a breakfast meeting for general managers and owners.
IAAPA, headquartered in Alexandria, VA, represents some 4,100 firms and individuals involved in site-based amusement attractions and parks in 90 countries. It was established in 1918. In addition to the Attractions Expo, the association produces Asian Attractions Expo and Euro Attractions Show, held annually on those continents. Next year's IAAPA Attractions Expo will return to the Orange County Convention Center, Nov. 14-18, 2011.