Top 5 Stories from IAAPA 2019

One of the highlights of the year is visiting the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) in Orlando. A place where designers of theme parks, attractions, food… anything that relates to attractions is on display.

There are literally hundreds of booths all vying for the attention of vendors and the press. They’ve all got their own stories to tell. Here are our top 5 favorites from IAAPA 2019.


It’s been five years since Airstage has exhibited at IAAPA. They create these jaw-dropping flying machines that are used for stage shows, conventions and theme parks. We actually covered them back when they first started appearing in parks like Lotte World. Check out our article here.

This is a great example of what they can do. This is being operated by someone who is trained to fly this… dolphin. It’s pretty incredible how lifelike it can be with the flips and tight turns it can make all on the IAAPA show floor.

While the dolphin is filled with helium, this is straight up wing power. Airstage has built this incredible butterfly that’s so light, it mimics the wing movements almost exactly. Again this can be operated and controlled to come very close over the heads of the audience. Most of the work they have done over the last five years are under strict non-disclosure agreements (NDA). Thus, they can’t talk about them publicly. However, they have created some amazing flying objects for the biggest names in theme parks and entertainment.

Franz Harary Productions

Master magician Franz Harary has one of the most impressive resumes out of anyone I’ve ever met. He’s made a space shuttle disappear, he’s designed illusions for celebrities like Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber and Missy Elliot.

He also has done a ton of work for attractions around the globe. Disney, Universal, Six Flags… theme parks are a part of his DNA. Luckily at IAAPA, you can see one of his illusions being performed live. Check out the video below, filmed by the man himself!

For more information (and to go over his amazing list of credits) visit! Tell him Theme Park University sent you! We have been covering his magic and attractions for years.


When Legoland New York opens on July 4, 2020, it will feature a new flagship dark ride for the brand. The Legoland Factory Tour gives guests a whimsical look at how LEGO bricks are made. This will be the first dark ride completely designed by Holovis and features a potentially game changing technology.

Using what they call HoloTrac technology, guests will be transformed into LEGO mini figures on the new attraction. Hidden cameras will be able to pick up on characteristics that guests have and replicate them in mini-figure form on the screen during the ride. For example, if you’re wearing a green shirt, a red hat and glasses – so will your mini-figure. This technology can be applied in many other applications throughout a theme park. We will cover this more in a future article!


Intamin is showing off this crazy prototype attraction at IAAPA 2019. They admitted one has not been sold yet, but it has potential for turning a traditional drop tower into more of a show experience.

The Ultra Tower can accommodate 24 guests per ride vehicle (possibly more depending on the client) and have 4 cars on the tower. That’s a total capacity of 96 on a drop tower, which is unheard of. The vehicles can move on an axis and even spin 360 degrees adding a simulator element to the attraction. Add all this with either projectors mounted slightly above the ride vehicle or LED screens within the drop shaft and this could be a very unique ride indeed. Hopefully one of these will be sold!

Ancient Lore Village

Out of all the announcements this week, Ancient Lore Village may be my personal favorite. The Weber Group and Infinite Kingdoms are building an interactive resort in Tennessee where families can go on adventures and quests together.

Rooms will not have traditional televisions, rather you’ll be given the option to enjoy the resorts amenities (like a water park) or go on quests and adventures. Ancient Lore Village is developing technology that will allow them to track guests progress in various activities designed to bring families closer together. Check out the video below for more info!

Thanks as always to IAAPA for having us! We look forward to all the announcements, seeing old friends and making new ones every year!

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