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IAAPA Wrap-Up 2012: Inside the year’s biggest amusement park expo bringing new attraction innovations to Orlando

IAAPA Wrap-Up 2012: Inside the year’s biggest amusement park expo bringing new attraction innovations to Orlando

Last week the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) held its annual expo in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center, drawing thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and special guests to show off the latest innovations in themed entertainment. Amidst hundreds of booths sat impressive exhibits and new products, big and small, that could soon show up in a theme park. From plush prizes and tasty treats to high-def video games and elaborate animatronics, the 2012 IAAPA Expo produced plenty of interesting sights.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Let’s take a photo tour around some of the more eye-catching items on display throughout the show’s 4-day run, offering a sneak peek and the future of amusement parks and attractions…

Sculptures and Themed Environments

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The star booth at this year’s event was from Daniels Wood Land, a company specializing in elaborately themed sculptures and environments.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Artist Javier Soto took me on a quick tour around their impressive displays, which featured many Disney-inspired touches.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Daniels Wood Land creates impressive tree houses that rival themed areas seen in theme parks.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Their Jungle Cruise-inspired skipper girl was a big hit.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The jungle theme continued with a carved 3D version of Disney’s famous Jungle Cruise poster.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The interior of the tree house seemed to draw inspiration from the Jungle Cruise, Swiss Family Robinson, and other adventures.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Daniels Wood Land also displayed an impressive array of shooting galleries, like this one with a pirate theme. Yarrr. (That bird and shrunken head sure look familiar…)

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

From adventure to the frontier, this wild west bear sure looked like he stepped right out of a jamboree.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

This shooting gallery featured a rusty ol’ car with a unique personality that would fit in a sleepy town off Route 66.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Elsewhere on the show floor, Advanced Animations featured an impressive dragon animatronic figure…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…that deserves a closer look.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Another show-stopper was the haunted house setup from Pale Night Productions, featuring many of their killer creations.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Inside, a 3-room haunted house was filled with creepy props and animated displays.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

A bit of fog and low lighting were only needed to make this one of the best sights at IAAPA. No live actors were necessary to scare many an attendee.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

More haunted attraction products were on display nearby from other companies as well, bringing a bit of Halloween to November.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The Scare Factory always displays an unusual assortment of over-the-top animatronic scares, this year featuring an ominous dragon.

IAAPA Expo 2012

A lunging wolf scared this picture-taker just moments after this shot was snapped.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The most scare-inducing prop was this seemingly innocent coat rack, which flung open to reveal a ghoul inside.

Food

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Beyond the biggest sights, one of the most popular topics at the IAAPA Expo is innovation in food and drinks. Coca-Cola debuted their now-popular Freestyle machine a few years ago at this show. Today they have thousands placed in restaurants around the country.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Dippin Dots has bounced back from bankruptcy with a new owner, introducing new flavors and options.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Moving toward a trend in slightly healthier amusement park eats, the Quick n’ Crispy fryer produces tasty treats with less grease.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Though not actually fried, these French fries were just as good.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Mini donuts are always popular…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…particularly when they’re made on the spot.

IAAPA Expo 2012

Jelly Belly had a large presence featuring a jelly bean mascot.

Games

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The video game section of the IAAPA Expo seems to grow each year with more high-tech offerings. A number of high-definition shooters took the floor this year with spooky themes.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Dark Escape 4D puts gamers inside a darkened booth, donning 3D glasses, and shooting through a zombie invasion. But bright lights, bursts of air, and loud noises produce scares throughout. Definitely a hit for the Halloween crowd.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

This prize game features a unique overlay on the front window adding animations and depth.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Pac-Man Smash takes air hockey to the next level with an unexpected onslaught of pucks.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Somehow the popular fraternity pastime of beer pong has been turned into an arcade game.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Stern showed off its newest pinball machines, X-Men and AC/DC.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

But there’s a newcomer to the pinball scene now, Jersey Jack Pinball, who has landed the excellent license of Wizard of Oz for their first machine.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Featuring a rainbow of LEDs and intricate animated figures, this fun new table is a welcome addition to the pinball world.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

It even has a crystal ball showing video clips from the film that tie in to the gameplay.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The popular Big Buck Hunter has received an HD upgrade, also with the addition of camouflage-clad girls between levels.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Speaking of girls, the IAAPA Expo isn’t without its share of “booth babes.” ┬áThese lanes were popular.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

This boxing game seemed to always have a crowd of photographers around it.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

No games section would be complete without an assortment of plush prizes. The Toy Factory featured some favorites from recent years…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…and a few new licenses, including Gremlins, Frosty the Snowman…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…Beetlejuice…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…Trick ‘R Treat…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…Jason, Freddy, ET…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…and Despicable Me 2, offering a preview of the upcoming sequel.

Rides

Empire of the Penguin ride vehicle reveal by SeaWorld Orlando

But of course the biggest focus at the IAAPA Expo is on the ride innovations. SeaWorld Orlando unveiled its trackless Empire of the Penguin ride vehicle.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Though most of the world’s biggest roller coaster companies are in attendance, often revealing details about their newest major projects, it’s fun to look at the smaller attractions on display.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Who would win in a cart race: Sonic the Hedgehog…

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

…or Fred Flintstone?

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Towering over the middle of the show floor was this wacky and wild ride from Zamperla.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Upside down and around she went, leaving many an IAAPA attendee a little woozy.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Outside, a giant Ferris wheel towered over the exterior portion of the show.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

The Soaring Eagle zip line was among the most popular (and noticeable) rides.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Only at IAAPA will you find two men in business suits riding a zip line, casually discussing business.

IAAPA Expo 2012 in Orlando

Jetlev provides an opportunity to strap on a backpack and soar above a lake, propelled by strong streams of water. Instructors initially use a remote control to vary the thrust, preventing any accidents.

 


That’s just a small sampling of the many exciting, unique, and sometimes puzzling sights found on the IAAPA Expo floor this year. The show will be returning to Orlando for many years to come, always bringing an assortment of new and unusual entertainment and products that may soon be available for enjoyment at your local amusement or theme park.

More photos from the IAAPA Expo 2012:


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