Foreign Visitors More Prominent At IAAPA Expo
ATLANTA — Fewer than 22,000 visitors attended this year’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo staged here at the Georgia World Congress Center last week. The exhibit featured products and services from more than 1,050 companies, including dozens of makers of coin-operated equipment for FECs, gamerooms and arcades. Several manufacturers of tavern-oriented equipment, including jukeboxes and pool tables, also exhibited their wares. The number of booths was markedly less than seen at IAAPA’s annual fall show in Orlando two years ago, and most exhibitors agreed aisle traffic appeared lighter than last year; however, the proportion of overseas visitors seemed higher than in recent IAAPA shows, which pleased exhibitors. Many booths were extremely busy and saw a high volume of leads generated and sales written.
“All of our members reported having an exceptionally good show,” said Mike Rudowicz, president of the American Amusement Machine Association. Redemption game makers and FEC consultants said many new facilities developers are entering the market, with most projects in the $5 million to $25 million range, and that manufacturers are competing strongly for equipment sales to outfit those facilities since replacement buys for existing FECs have fallen off in recent years.
Mats Weden, president of Sweden’s The Liseberg Group, was elected IAAPA chairman for 2007. The IAAPA show will take place in Orlando in 2007 and 2008, and in Las Vegas in 2009.
New Products Debut At IAAPA; Association Honors Best FECs, New Games, Technology
ATLANTA — Many new products were on display at last week’s IAAPA show that were not shown at the AMOA International and Fun Expos in September. Among them were Coastal Amusements’ eight-player NASCAR Pusher, Bay Tek’s American Idol Super Star lightchaser merchandiser and production versions of Brunswick’s Virtual Bowling attraction, along with Family Fun Co.’s Triple Spin multilevel skill-stop game, Face Place’s portable, small-footprint photo booth with built-in wheels for easy transport and Fantasy Entertainment’s Fantasy Photo Cube, which vends photos and an assembly-ready display cube. Also making their first appearance were LAI’s themed merchandisers Fast Track and Snakes & Ladders, Monduce’s Slam Dunk crane that vends full-sized basketballs and Namco Bandai’s Jumping Jackpot “virtual jump-rope” lightchaser game, as well as Sega’s OutRun 2 Special Edition Deluxe sitdown auto racing simulator and SurfNote’s Pot-O-Bling combination crane and merchandiser. Rowe/AMI exhibited jukeboxes running Version 2.6, the latest system software for its downloading jukeboxes.
Honored by IAAPA as the best new coin operated arcade and redemption attraction was Water Blast from Bob’s Space Racers; an honorable mention went to Robo Basho from Ronbotic Amusements. According to an IAAPA announcement, Bob’s Space Racers’ Dog Pounder won first place in the games category for the second year; IAAPA staff were unavailable to confirm the accuracy of this report. Embed Integration (Australia and Dallas), maker of smart card reader systems and arcade control technologies, was honored twice: its Color-Glo debit card reader won the award for best new technology applied to amusements, while the company itself won the 2006 Impact Award for showcasing the “ultimate new product in 2006.” Traffic Jam from SBF Visa Group won the honors for best new FEC ride or attraction. Nancy Sales Co./Nanco took top honors for merchandise with the Animaland Interactive Stuffing Experience. Winners of IAAPA’s “Top FECs of the World” awards were Adventure Park USA (New Market, MD) and Kidzania (Monterrey, NL, Mexico).
IAAPA Announces FEC Group Liability Insurance Program
ATLANTA — The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions said it is rolling out a new association-endorsed program exclusively for FEC members. Called F.I.R.S.T. – which stands for FEC, Insurance, Risk Management, Service and Training – the program sets new safety standards and provides affordable, high-quality insurance through a group liability policy, said officials. IAAPA said the program should help “bring stability to the FEC insurance market,” which has seen rates escalate in some regions during the past few years following a series of accidents and fatalities at theme parks worldwide. More information is available at http://www.iappa.org.
Global Associations Ponder Joint Action Against Redemption Copies
ATLANTA — Six leaders representing nine trade associations from the U.S. and Europe met in conjunction with the 2006 IAAPA show to discuss possible joint actions and policies to defend members and exhibitors against unfair competition from a new generation of Asian counterfeits, especially in the redemption game segment. The session was called by the Amusement Industry Council of Europe, whose Gerry Robinson spoke on behalf of Italy’s ANCASVI, Spain’s AFEMO and the UK’s ALES. Also present were IAAPA chairman Clark Robinson, AAMA president Mike Rudowicz, IALEI president Larry Davis and executive director Tracy Sarris, as well as Gianni Chiari of EASSI, the European parks association. Merit Entertainment’s Bob Fay, Benchmark Games’ Al Kress and Family Fun Co.’s Richard and Dianne Oltmann also participated. ALE’s Robinson said the copy games represent a “growing concern” that could “decimate our industry.” He called for the assembled groups to band together to form a united front with a “code of conduct” for association members, government lobbying for stricter protection of intellectual property in Asia and strict “no copies” policies for international trade exhibitions, among other steps. No formal action plan was adopted, but members agreed in principle to cooperate to find a common policy that can help defend members’ intellectual property.
Voters Impose Statewide Smoking Bans In Arizona, Ohio, Nevada
U.S.A. — Voters in Arizona, Ohio and Nevada approved referendums on November 7 that will impose statewide smoking bans. Proposition 201, the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, takes effect May 1, 2007. Indian reservations are exempted. Bars are included in Ohio’s statewide ban that officially takes effect on December 7, though officials say enforcement will be delayed. The Nevada measure, which takes effect December 8, preserves smoking in casinos but bans smoking at bars that serve food and near slot machines at such locations as supermarkets, gas stations, convenience stores, video arcades, shopping malls, schools and daycare centers.
Services Held For AAMA Cofounder Joe Robbins
CHICAGO — Industry members from across the U.S. were in attendance Sunday as coin-op amusements pioneer Joe Robbins, 82, was laid to rest. Best known for serving as president of Atari and Bally Corp. during the heyday of arcade video games, Robbins was a cofounder (along with Stern Pinball president Gary Stern) of the American Amusement Machine Association. He first rose to prominence as co-owner of Empire Distributing here, which was the industry’s largest dealership during the 1950s and ‘60s. AAMA president Mike Rudowicz and Bulldog Amusements president Bill Cravens remembered Robbins as “the ultimate distributor” who could make or break a product by giving or denying his support. They described him as acerbic, humorous, tough but fair and a larger-than-life personality who was the motivating force behind many industry innovations and initiatives, including the American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation.
MANUFACTURING NEWS: Rowe Offers Latin Cache; Ecast Inks Ad Tech Deal
Rowe International Corp. reports that it is now offering premixed hard disks featuring predominantly Spanish music stored in cache. The new Spanish music hard drive arrangements are available for all Rowe Internet-access jukeboxes and Merit Entertainment’s MoD BoX, which connect to the AMI Entertainment Network. Rowe now builds 16 premixed hard drives, each of which stores as many as 300 albums of locally stored music and as many as 20,000 singles in hidden cache, which represents the most frequently requested material on the AMI network. In the Spanish category, the hard drive premixes feature larger music proportions in four Latin music genres: Latin Pop, Regional Latin, Tejano and Tropical Latin…
…Ecast said it has licensed DoubleClick’s DART Enterprise advertising management technology, which will provide marketers with increased campaign flexibility and reporting for interactive media campaigns. DART Enterprise provides sophisticated, flexible and easy-to-use planning, serving and reporting capabilities. It will also enable Ecast to streamline ad delivery across its entire network. Advertisers will be able to monitor and alter campaigns and to “hyper-target” ads by venue, geography, type of music browsed/played, etc. They will also be able to run overlapping, simultaneous, interactive advertising campaigns on Ecast’s 8,000-plus location digital jukebox network, and easily manage and report on complex campaigns in a wide array of online and offline environments. DART Enterprise is currently being installed on the Ecast network and is scheduled for systemwide implementation in January 2007.