ORLANDO, FL -- Now that the IAAPA Attractions Expo is the only fall exhibition for the amusement industry, the show’s owner is likely expecting a heavy turnout of music and games operators, as well as from family entertainment center owners and managers.
Owned and produced by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the trade show will be held here from Nov. 16 to 19 at the Orange County Convention Center. Educational seminars and association conferences begin two days earlier.
In terms of exhibitors, the coin-op amusement industry's presence will probably be stronger than ever. Well over 100 amusement and music machine manufacturers, along with related suppliers, have booked space at the 2010 Attractions Expo.
That means the coin-op amusement industry comprises about 10% of the exhibitors at this year’s IAAPA show, which boasts more than 1,000 total exhibitors. The majority of exhibitors provide products and services for theme parks, waterparks, zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers, casinos and resorts. These exhibits fill the fabled “seven miles of aisles” at IAAPA, or 400,000 square feet of exhibit space.
Regardless of the strong coin-op exhibitor presence, it’s an open question as to how many amusement and music operators will attend. Those who do will join an expected 25,000 participants from around the world.
The number of amusement route operator visitors is an especially relevant question now that -- for the first time in decades -- the Amusement and Music Operators Association's trade show did not take place in competition a month or two before the parks show. The AMOA held its final fall show in September 2009, merging the event into the new Amusement Expo (co-owned by the American Amusement Machine Association) in March 2010 in Las Vegas.
An even more compelling question could be FEC owner attendance at this year's IAAPA show. That’s because, for the first time since 1991, there is no Fun Expo competing with IAAPA.
This lack of FEC competition is no accident: IAAPA merged with Fun Expo’s leading owner, the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry, in October 2009. Six months later, IAAPA terminated Fun Expo. (The last edition of that show took place in March 2010, comingling with the first-ever Amusement Expo.)
The music and games industry’s presence at IAAPA 2010 will begin with several exhibits staffed by AMOA, AAMA and officials from their joint Amusement Expo show management team.
As of late October, the Coin-Op Pavilion on the IAAPA show floor included 69 traditional music and games industry exhibitors. These ranged from makers of videogames, sports games and redemption games to manufacturers of large and midsize attractions, kiddie rides, photobooths, novelties, at least one jukebox manufacturer and one pinball manufacturer, as well a host of prize merchandise suppliers, along with suppliers of allied products, from locks to financing.
Amusements will also be a big part of the IAAPA show’s educational program. The more than 90 educational sessions will include dozens focused on FECs because IAAPA has folded large chunks of the former Fun Expo's seminar program into its program.
Accordingly, IAAPA’s first (FEC) Rookies and Newcomers program will begin as an early-bird session on Nov. 14, the day before the formal opening of the IAAPA Attractions Expo, and conclude Monday with a half-day session. Separate registration is required.
Designed for new owners and operators of family entertainment centers, Rookies and Newcomers will cover how to open an FEC, how to market and manage a facility and ways to maintain a successful operation. Designed by FEC operators, the program taps into the expertise of successful veteran practitioners who will share their hands-on experience and best practices.
Speakers will provide show participants how to turn an entertainment concept into a business reality. The association notes that even the more experienced FEC professionals can benefit from the broad overview of industry best practices offered by this course.
Rookies and Newcomers will be co-moderated by Dorothy E. Lewis, Fun Station Associates (Danbury, CT), chairwoman of IAAPA’s Family Entertainment Center Committee, and Richard Sanfilippo, Sam’s Fun City (Pensacola, FL). Lewis and Sanfilippo are past-presidents of IALEI; they spearheaded the effort to merge IALEI into IAAPA.
The registration fee is $325 for IAAPA members and $429 for nonmembers. It includes course tuition and materials, lunch on Sunday and Monday, and a reception Sunday evening. The fee also covers registration for the Attractions Expo.
IAAPA's educational programming at the exposition offers an additional 15 sessions related to FEC operations. Topics include engaging staff, birthday parties, all-access debit-card systems, food and beverage operations, and improving services and profits.
(In related news, IAAPA will produce an FEC-focused seminar program for next year's Amusement Expo, which will run from March 1 to 3, 2011, in Las Vegas. IAAPA will also maintain an exhibit and host a social event at the show.)
Another new seminar at this fall’s IAAPA show should be valuable for street operators and FEC owners, as well as theme park managers. A social media symposium is slated for Friday, Nov. 19. Speakers will discuss how attractions of all types use social media tools (think Facebook) to develop new relationships with guests, drive attendance, generate revenue and communicate with employees.
This year’s show features three keynote addresses. The first will be delivered by Joel Manby, president and chief executive of Herschend Family Entertainment. Manby will discuss his experience on the CBS show “Undercover Boss,” lessons learned, and how the company incorporates leadership principles in its daily operations on Monday, Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.
A second keynote follows on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at noon. Roland Mack, managing partner of Europa-Park, will share the history of Europa-Park and some of his biggest challenges and opportunities over the years.
Tom Williams, chairman and chief executive Universal Parks & Resorts, will deliver the third keynote. Williams will speak at the General Managers' and Owners' Breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.
Yet another important pair of addresses will come from IAAPA chairman Chip Cleary and president and chief executive Charlie Bray, who will exit the association on Dec. 3 [see story]. The association leaders will present industry news from around the world and provide a sneak preview of what lies ahead for the industry on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 8:30 a.m.
IAAPA's show also offers behind-the-scenes professional tours of various Orlando attractions, including the midway games at SeaWorld, the costuming and production departments at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the public exhibits at the Kennedy Space Center.
A full list of seminars, tours and presentations is available at IAAPA.org/expos/attractions/Education.asp. Most of the education programs are free for IAAPA members who registration; however, some institutes, courses, seminars and tours require separate registration and fees.
Trade show hours run from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, Nov. 15-18. The show closes at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19.
Last August, IAAPA said it plans to stage its fall Attractions Expo in Orlando, FL, at the Orange County Convention Center for the next 10 years. Prior to signing the decade-long deal, IAAPA had planned to hold its 2011 convention and trade show in Las Vegas, where it drew some 24,000 visitors for its 2009 show, held for the first time ever in “Sin City.”
The parks show also was scheduled for cities other than Orlando in 2015, 2017 and 2018. IAAPA said it decided to have the show exclusively in Orlando due to its status as “theme park capital of the U.S.,” as well as Orlando’s proven drawing power for global theme park executives, among other reasons.
Founded 91 years ago, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions.