ORLANDO, Fla. – From virtual balloon rides to audio-animatronics, the theme park industry is on full display at the Orange County Convention Center this week.
The International Association of Amusement Parks, also known as IAAPA, returned to an in-person expo following a virtual show last year due to the pandemic.
More than 800 exhibitors returned to the show floor, with more than 100 of them being from Central Florida. Those vendors are showcasing the latest in technology to owners and operators of theme parks from around the world.
“We’re thrilled to bring back together, in-person, the global attractions community for IAAPA Expo,” said Hal McEvoy, president and CEO of IAAPA. “The attractions industry is working tirelessly to come back stronger than ever, and we’re excited to reflect and showcase that here. We have an outstanding line-up of special events, speakers, and educational programming along with our amazing, diverse trade show floor. It’s going to be a fantastic week.”
Merlin Entertainment debuted its new Peppa Pig wheelchair-accessible ride Tuesday and announced the all-new park will be officially a certified autism center.
In 2021 alone, 29 shows were canceled at the Orange County Convention Center totaling a loss of $868 million dollars. However, Mark Tester, the executive director of the Convention Center says IAAPA could bring back nearly $80 million loss last year.
“We are definitely on our way back,” Tester said. “In 2019, this represented $79 million but what’s more exciting is now just to see the crowds, see everyone back and engaged. So, no matter what the number is -- it’s a great boost for our economy.”
Throughout the week, IAAPA Expo offers more than 90 educational experiences designed specifically for attractions professionals as part of the event’s robust education conference. Attendees will learn from world-renowned industry experts, make new connections, and build their international networks.
The convention runs through Friday.
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