IAAPA's 2016 Attractions Expo Is Largest In 98-Year History; Attendance Rises 7%, Show Floor Expands 3.5%

Posted On: 11/21/2016

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TAGS: 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo, coin-op news, amusement business, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Paul Nolan, Apple Industries, Team Play, 2016 Brass Ring Awards, Tim O'Brien, Roland Mack, IAAPA Hall of Fame

Apple Industries and Team Play win prestigious Brass Ring Awards. Journalist Tim O'Brien and ride-maker Roland Mack are inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame

ORLANDO, FL -- This year's IAAPA Attractions Expo shattered all visitor and exhibitor records, continuing an impressive growth trend for the 98-year-old amusements and attractions trade show, which has emerged stronger than ever from the Great Recession of 2007. Some 35,100 industry professionals flocked to the Orlando, FL, show last week, compared with 32,900 for the previous year's show, a 7% increase, IAAPA reported.

The conference and trade show exhibit, which was held from Nov. 14 to 18 at the Orange County Convention Center, is owned and produced by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The association, founded in 1918, represents nearly 5,000 facilities, suppliers and individual members from more than 90 countries. IAAPA said the five-day exposition pumped an estimated $51.3 million into the Orlando-area economy.

"What an amazing week and year," said IAAPA president and chief executive Paul Noland. "With the largest gathering in nearly 20 years, the success of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 is an indication of sustained growth in the industry. This record-setting show caps off a record year for IAAPA expos around the world."

In addition to its flagship American show in Orlando, IAAPA produces major events in Asia and Europe. This year's Asian Amusement Expo and Euro Attractions Show, held, respectively, in Shanghai in June and Barcelona in September, each drew more than 11,000 visitors. More than 8,000 of those visitors at each were registered as "buyers." According to IAAPA, the global attractions industry generated $39.5 billion last year.

At November's show, 22,600 visitors registered as buyers, compared with 21,200 in 2015, a 7% increase. Exhibit-related figures were up, too. The number of companies booking booth space was 1,136, compared with 1,066 in 2015. Accordingly, the trade show's floor space grew to 578,460 net square feet, from 558,610 net square feet last year.

IAAPA Attractions Expo
BIG SHOW: More than 35,000 visitors registered for the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo. It was held at Orlando, FL's sprawling Orange County Convention Center.

There was much more than product exhibits taking place on the show floor. On the opening day, the association announced that journalist Tim O'Brien and ride-maker Roland Mack were inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. As a journalist and distinguished photographer, O'Brien has been instrumental in capturing the history of the amusement parks and attractions industry over the past four decades. He has written more than a dozen books about industry celebrities, parks and places. More than 5,000 of his articles and 3,000 of his photos on outdoor entertainment and rides have been published during his career, which included 18 years as senior editor at Amusement Business magazine.

Europa-Park and Mack Rides GmbH & Co.'s Roland Mack, who is the eldest son of another IAAPA Hall of Famer, Franz Mack, was born into the attractions business. After receiving an engineering degree, he cofounded in 1975 Europa-Park, situated in southwest Germany. He recently spearheaded the park's transformation into the largest resort destination in Germany by adding five world-class hotels. Today, Europa Park is the second-largest amusement park in Europe, attracting more than 5.5 million guests a year. The Mack family's manufacturing business, headquartered in Waldkirich, traces its roots back 230 years, when 18th-century entrepreneur Paul Mack began manufacturing carriages and stagecoaches. Since the 1920s, Mack Rides has been building rollercoasters, log flumes and other thrill rides.

Jack Morey, president of Morey's Piers (Wildwood, NJ), was chairman of this year's IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee. "It is with great pleasure that we induct Roland Mack and Tim O'Brien into the Hall of Fame, the industry's highest individual honor. Roland and Tim have dedicated their careers to the attractions industry," he said. "Whether innovating a new ride or attraction and creating memorable guest experiences, or capturing those experiences in writing and photography and telling the industry's story, Roland and Tim's passion for the attractions industry will leave a lasting impression."

IAAPA also presents its Brass Ring Awards during its annual show. The honors are awarded to attractions, parks, family entertainment centers and suppliers that excel at their specialties. The term "brass ring" was first used in the late 1800s, when rings were suspended above carousel riders -- low enough to be grasped, but high enough to pose a challenge; grabbing one was considered a treat, and it was often traded for a prize or free ride.

IAAPA has kept the term the alive by making it synonymous with achievement, and this year almost 100 companies grabbed a Brass Ring Award. Notable in the arcade segment were winners in the categories of FEC operations and equipment manufacturing. Dreamland (La Libertad, El Salvador) and Scene 75 Entertainment Center (Cincinnati, OH) won Brass Rings for top FECs. In the games and devices category, Apple Industries Inc.'s Face Place Photo Studio Deluxe photobooth took first place and Team Play Inc.'s new Launch Code placed second.

During its GM and Owners' Breakfast on Nov. 16, the association recognized three individuals for their contributions to the global attractions industry. The 2016 IAAPA Service Award recipients were John Wood of Sally Corp. (Jacksonville, FL), Laura Woodburn of Hersheypark (Hershey, PA) and Dorothy Lewis of Xpress Posts (Danbury, CT).

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 will take place again at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center from Nov. 13 to 17. Click here for more information.

As reported in an early story, IAAPA said it will be hosting the annual Attractions Expo at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando through 2030. The association is also relocating its global headquarters from Alexandria, VA, to Orlando. The move is tentatively planned for 2017. | SEE STORY