IAAPA Attractions Expo Commits to Orlando through 2019

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Orlando, FL – The amusement and theme park industry will convene in Orlando through 2019 under a new 10-year agreement to hold the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ IAAPA Attractions Expo at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC).

The IAAPA extended its original agreements with Orlando by five years and will also cancel plans to hold the 2011 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Las Vegas. “Orlando is the ideal location for IAAPA Attractions Expo,” said IAAPA Chairman Chip Cleary. “It is the ideal city with the ideal convention center, and the economics of hosting the show there make sense for our exhibitors and our members.”

The IAAPA Attractions Expo ranked 34th on the latest Trade Show Executive Gold 100 rankings of largest U.S. trade shows. The 2009 event covered 404,900 net square feet (nsf) and is projected at 450,000 nsf this year. Prior to signing the new agreement with the OCCC, the IAAPA had scheduled its exhibition in Orlando this year and in 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

The show annually features exhibits of the latest in amusement park rides along with other services and equipment, which means Ferris wheels, carousels and water slides are erected and, in many cases, operational inside the North/South building at the OCCC. “You can open your eyes and find yourself inside an amusement park inside a building,” said Cleary.

Cleary and IAAPA President and CEO Charles Bray told Trade Show Executive the North/South facility was a near-perfect venue for IAAPA Attractions Expo. The huge facility built in 2003 has high ceilings and is entirely on one floor, which enables it to bear substantial weight. It also is capable of providing a large volume of electricity and is handy to Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Orlando.

“If you look at Orlando being the unofficial theme-park capital of the world, it’s a very nice place for our constituent visitors to come because they can combine the trade show and seminars with any of the world-class attractions in Orlando,” said Cleary.

Tom Ackert, executive director of the OCCC, said North/South, which opened in 2003 and has already hosted IAAPA Attractions Expo four times, could easily accommodate such a unique event. “As far as the move-in and out goes, we don’t consider the show to be overly difficult, in large part because of the number of docks and bay doors that serve the expo halls,” he said, “They also have outdoor exhibits, which is something relatively easy to service.”

Orlando is also convenient by air and sea from Europe, where many of the show exhibitors are located. “These overseas exhibitors can now make a 10-year commitment to renting a storage facility. They can keep their exhibits there and freshen them up every year,” Bray said.

The relative ease of the logistics in Orlando was not something that could be easily matched in the half-dozen other cities capable of hosting the IAAPA Attractions Expo. Multiple floors and columns in other facilities are an impediment.

Cleary said the IAAPA had an overall good experience in Las Vegas and planned to work with the city on other events. For the rest of the decade, however, the association’s big show will be at home in Orlando, the unofficial theme park capital of world.

Reach Chip Cleary (631) 727-3600 or ccleary@palaceentertainment.com; Charles Bray (703) 836-6742 or cbray@iaapa.org; Tom Ackert at (407) 685-9843 or tom.ackert@occc.net