Ah, the week before Thanksgiving. Every year, while many families are busy trying to figure out what they are going to cook before driving to Grandma’s and stuffing their faces, I make my annual pilgrimage to what can only be described as eye candy for theme park nerds. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions holds it’s annual American expo every year during this week. IAAPA 2013 is completely sold out for the first time in years and that means more booths than ever before!
Flogos are easily one of my favorite products showcased at IAAPA. Introduced in 2008, Flogos are environmentally safe proprietary soap that are combined with lighter than air gasses like helium. Essentially, a dense layer of bubbles forms at the base of a the Flogos machine. After a few seconds, the “bubble cloud” is merely wiped across the machine like a wind shield wiper, freeing the soap and releasing it into the atmosphere. The formation will be carried as high and as far as the wind will carry it, eventually disintegrating into the atmosphere. If you are looking for a specific shape, or say the logo of your company, Flogos can design a custom stencil for you within five to seven days and can also come in different colors besides the standard white seen in the video.
Several companies were showcasing giant inflatable bags that you could swan dive into. Stunt Jump, by Spectrum Sports International, is a portable attraction that can be set up virtually anywhere. Jumpers climb to the top of a tower and fall like a Hollywood stung man into a cushion of air. The attraction can accommodate up to six jumpers a minute and can be set up two operators in as little as fifteen minutes. Who wouldn’t want this at a county fair or even an amusement center as opposed to a traditional bounce house?
As always, there is lots of food products to sample at IAAPA. Funnel Sticks are a proprietary fresh baked sweet bread that is delivered to your amusement park food stands direct from one of several bakeries located around the country. The bread is never frozen and once ordered, is fried for 90 seconds at 350 degrees. The final result is a treat that has the taste and consistency of a funnel cake, but with much less grease and is a little more dense. Funnel Sticks also sells toppings like caramel, chocolate, in addition to powdered sugar and nuts like the loaded down one I am modeling in my hand above.
Bolliger and Mabillard were showcasing this fantastic coaster car for Cedar Point’s GateKeeper which opened in May of 2013. B&M broke several records for it’s design including the highest inversion in the world. GateKeeper is also the current record for winged coaster with the most amount of inversions, longest track, coaster speed and drop height. It features two keyhole towers that the trains travel through and it replaced the infamous Disaster Transport, one of my favorite classic themed coasters of all time.
Daniels Wood Land Inc brings easily one of the most immersive environments you can find on any trade show floor anywhere in the world. These guys build just about anything out of wood including tree houses that actually come with the tree! IAAPA 2013 features another one of their stunning creations that you can climb right into that is covered in antiques, period music and exquisite detail. These guys aren’t just craftsman, they are true artists. They also create incredibly detailed shooting galleries and even animatronics. You have to check out their website to see what great work these guys do.
Finally, Alterface, an interactive dark ride company creates many unique attractions like the one seen in the model above. The 4D interactive experience puts riders in stadium seating rows of seats that sits atop a motion platform that can spin around 360 degrees. Once the rotating theater is in position a combination of 3D movie, in theater effects and even seat rumblers and leg ticklers to create a unique theater experience. Currently, there are two attractions operating that showcase this technology called Castle of Chaos in Branson, MO and Pigeon Forge, TN.
Easily the highlight of the day for me was Alterface‘s shooting demonstration they had set up in a tiny dark room to showcase their new ride concept, African Magic. It’s a dark ride concept that will lead riders to four media screens. These screens are worked blended beautifully into the scenery and come to life via mapping projection technology. The masks, shown above, change faces when they are shot at by interactive laser guns. The pots on the wall will “crack” or “explode” via a video projection that is laid on top of them and it all comes together perfectly with some of the props being able to move, shake and have air blast at the shooter, depending on how good of a marksman you are.
Come back all this week as Theme Park University covers more of IAAPA 2013 and in the later weeks we will do more in depth stories with some of the biggest names found at the convention.