Orlando, FL – While the stock market was looking down, things were looking up at the 2008 IAAPA Amusement Park Expo this past week. Produced by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the annual trade show attracted an estimated 24,000 people from a record-setting 100 nations.
Carousels, roller coasters, arcades, concessions, and every imaginable vendor to the industry who was anyone was there.
The world’s largest conference and trade show for the $24 billion amusement park and attractions industry took place at the Orange County Convention Center, Nov. 17 through Nov. 21, with the theme “Success in Every Direction.”
Conference and trade show participants represented amusement and theme parks, family entertainment centers, waterparks, zoos, aquariums, museums, casinos, resorts, developers, themed entertainment designers, consultants, manufacturers, and suppliers.
“Considering the state of the world economy and the fact that this was our second consecutive year in Orlando, we are pleasantly surprised with the attendance at this year’s Expo,” said IAAPA President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Bray. “26,500 people participated in last year’s show in Orlando, which was one of our best events in the past 10 years. To be down less than 10 percent during these tumultuous economic times is amazing.”
More than 13,000 buyers representing more than 5,000 companies participated in the Expo. While some buyer categories experienced a decline in attendance, the number of buyers increased from zoos, aquariums, museums, and science centers. The number of buyers from Western Europe, Middle East, and Southeast Asia also decreased; however, the number of first-time buyers increased 25 percent.
The trade show floor featured 1,154 exhibiting companies on 482,550 net square feet of space. Exhibitors showcased everything from rare antique carousels to new thrill rides, roller coasters, and inflatable attractions, theatrical equipment, souvenirs, high-tech control systems, candy, snow machines, and the world debut of the arcade version of the popular “Guitar Hero” video game.
United Kingdom-based Haystack Dryers’ U.S. Operations Manager Wayne Jacks said, “(The Expo has been) absolutely fantastic, probably the best show we’ve ever done. We’ve had a buzz that’s been insane. We’ve had a group of people around us continuously. It’s been so successful; it looks like we’re going to expand our business in the States based on the show.”