The Nation’s Coolest Conference: IAAPA 2011

Posted by Sasha on Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

When one hears the word “conference,” what comes to mind is a stuffy auditorium full of briefcase toting, suit-clad people viewing Powerpoint slides of charts and graphs. At the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando, this stereotype was far from true.

The first thing one sees when descending the escalator into the city-sized Orange County Convention Center is the glimmering top of a working carousel, a giant lizard atop an inflatable slide, and the flashing lights of hundreds of games. The convention floor is a hubbub of dings, wooshes, buzzes, and other playful noises. Exhibitor booths showcase singing audio-animatronic chickens, roaring dinosaurs, shrieking ghouls, and music accompanied by choreographed water displays. Add to that picture giggling and screaming from various attraction-testers—children and adults alike—trying out the newest zip line models, extreme trampolines, “4D” simulators, shooting gallery games, and any of the other hundred attractions on display.

The expo felt more like a giant carnival than a trade show, complete with free food samples like pretzels, cotton candy, and flavored french fries. Around every corner there was a new bizarre, fascinating, or awe-inspiring sight to behold. For an industry as fun-oriented as entertainment design, one would expect nothing less.

IAAPA Children wait to ride one of two beautifully decorated carousels

Children wait to ride one of two beautifully decorated carousels

One of many giant inflatable playhouses

One of many giant inflatable playhouses

Children and adults take a seat to play a game, just one of hundreds to try

Children and adults take a seat to play a game, just one of hundreds to try

A display of Halloween themed audio-animatronics, complete with menacing grim reapers and an intimidating skeleton that raises up to be at least 15 ft. tall

A woman nervously waits to step off of the zip line tower

A woman nervously waits to step off of the zip line tower

A fearless 3-year-old tries out the newest jumping experience

Two eager riders wait their turn to try the 4D simulator, which replicates climate changes such as wind and snow

Two eager riders wait their turn to try the 4D simulator, which replicates climate changes such as wind and snow

This exhilarating simulator allows riders to experience race car driving with surprising accuracy

This exhilarating simulator allows riders to experience race car driving with surprising accuracy

A haunted shooting game full of startling surprises

A haunted shooting game full of startling surprises

This laser game challenges players to reach the other side of the room without touching any of the beams, including the moving ones...this is the hardest setting

A jungle gym-like ropes course that allows climbers to move along at their own pace as their harnesses slide along with them

A jungle gym-like ropes course that allows climbers to move along at their own pace as their harnesses slide along with them

A play pavilion almost completely made of plastic and soft materials for kids to tumble and play

A play pavilion almost completely made of plastic and soft materials for kids to tumble and play

A playroom with a constant flurry of balloons

A playroom with a constant flurry of balloons

Children trying out coin-operated rides

Children trying out coin-operated rides

Looking down an avenue of the stuffed animal suppliers section. It’s a wonder that these suppliers didn’t loose their wares to the hundreds of kids prowling the expo floor

Looking down an avenue of the stuffed animal suppliers section. It’s a wonder that these suppliers didn’t loose their wares to the hundreds of kids prowling the expo floor

High quality, hand-painted toys on display

High quality, hand-painted toys on display

One of the more menacing characters at the expo

One of the more menacing characters at the expo

A company’s model for a “Return of Dracula” dark ride

A company’s model for a “Return of Dracula” dark ride

A scale model of cutting edge water park attractions

A scale model of cutting edge water park attractions

Two seats of an innovative coaster that positions riders as if they are riding a motorcycle, holding handles and straddling the seats

Two seats of an innovative coaster that positions riders as if they are riding a motorcycle, holding handles and straddling the seats

Mascots roam the floor and interact with expo-goers

Mascots roam the floor and interact with expo-goers

Leave a Reply

Must Read

×