Excitement and thrills return with IAAPA 2021 Expo

Weeklong convention expected to bring in $79 million

IAAPA Expo brings in big business to Orange County

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.

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“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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About the Authors:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.