That was fast. I feel like I say it every year, but 2018 was the quickest the IAAPA Attractions Expo sped by. Part of the reason was because there was more up-front work than ever this year. We celebrated our 20th anniversary, so we have been planning for this year’s annual IAAPA soiree much longer than usual.
There were a lot of things to celebrate, but I believe that the most important was the people we brought with us. We have grown younger and more diverse in the past five years so Ride Entertainment certainly has a different face to it. Our team members bring both excitement and a different approach to the attractions industry. Eli on the Park & Attractions team, Jon in Sales and Amanda in Installations have all joined the company within the last 18 months and brought new ideas and youth to our collection of seasoned misfits.
20 Years of Fun
IAAPA reached out to the Funtime team that runs the StarFlyer and they worked with ICON, who runs the Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, to turn both rides purple and pink the first night of the convention. So, Tuesday evening we had a great party to celebrate turning twenty years old under the pink and purple glow of one of Orlando’s tallest attractions. We enjoyed the night with friends, clients and partners. Some of them had worked with us throughout the history of the company, while other relationships were only a few years old. That’s the fun of Ride Entertainment. Our founder and CEO Ed Hiller has built this company on relationships and we have thrived because our partners know that we are in this for the long haul.
The floor was busy, with everything from poop emoji bounce houses to animatronic penguins across the aisle from us that were never quiet, to the always awesome model of the new Gerstlauer Launched Euro-Fighter and Spinning Coaster going into the American Dream project in the Meadowlands.
While some of the coolest concepts were discussed with clients behind closed doors, we did have some great news to share:
- American Dream: Our largest announcement dealt with the projects we are opening at the American Dream theme park. It is being developed by 555 and will open in 2019. Our involvement includes:
- Launched Euro-Fighter from Gerstlauer with the world’s steepest roller coaster drop
- Spinning Coaster from Gerstlauer that twists above, below and through the first coaster
- A KCL Lighting Package on the Launched Euro-Fighter
- A record-breaking combination SkyTrail Explorer and Seeker from Ropes Courses, Inc.
- Our partners at Skyline Attractions showcased the vehicle for the world’s first Skywarp Horizon, which will debut at Sea World San Diego next spring.
- Lagotronics Projects announced the opening of the first North American GameChanger, with additional details to follow.
- The official debut of the Sky Sled on the Skycoaster. IAAPA attendees got to ride the new harness on both the 300-foot installation at Fun Spot Kissimmee and the 250-footer at Fun Spot Orlando.
- Bill and Amanda from our installation team will be setting up the new StarFlyer at Six Flags Darien Lake and upgrading the mechanical systems on the B&M floorless retrofit at Six Flags America, among other projects.
The best part of the week was catching up with great people. Our bar always starts to fill up around 3 pm as clients take longer breaks between meetings and come over for a drink. This is where we get to talk to friends we have known for a long time as well as meet new partners that want to discuss our products or services with them. We keep adding team members and introducing new projects, so our list of friends continues to grow. IAAPA is fun because it is as much about catching up with old friends as it is talking about what’s next.
We ended the week at Universal Studios for the IAAPA celebrates party. To celebrate the association’s 100th birthday they had Barenaked Ladies play a private show while a few key attractions were open – it was a fantastic night. We ended the evening in a similar fashion to 2017 by stopping by a karaoke spot, belting out everything from Guns ‘N Roses to Toto to Queen with our friends from KCL. It seemed like a fitting cap to the week. Twenty-four hours later the show was over and another IAAPA was in the books. Thank you to everyone who stopped by. We appreciate all of our clients, friends, and partners. Remember, as BNL sang, “The best part of the ride is the freefall.”