2017 IAAPA Attractions Expo Recap - From The Floor


Aerodium’s Mobile Wind Tunnel Lets Everyone Fly

Aerodium is bringing skydiving fun to everyone, via its mobile vertical wind tunnel. This attraction uses a powerful fan to float riders above the Earth, just as if they had jumped out of an airplane.

“This technology provides the ability to experience pure flight,” said Arturs Lalovs, Aerodium’s sales manager. “It’s similar to skydiving where you jump out of a plane, but in a safer and accessible way.”

The Aerodium mobile wind tunnel comes with everything operators need to send riders soaring, including flight suits, goggles, and helmets. The wind tunnel handles one rider at a time at two-minute intervals. 

The Aerodium mobile wind tunnel can be container-shipped to any site. It is set up outdoors in two days and torn down in one.



Alterface Shares New Details of ‘Non-Linear’ Dark Ride

Five just may be Alterface’s lucky number. The Belgium-based company has developed a dark ride with five rooms, using five vehicles in motion, requiring a structure standing 500 square feet, that would cost $5 million.

The new Erratic ride concept uses trackless vehicles to navigate a “honeycomb” floorplan and ditches a singular storyline.

“You don’t know what is coming for you,” said Alterface CEO Benoit Cornet.

In 2001, Cornet founded Alterface as a company based in virtual reality. His new reality 15 years later is creating a ride that will change every time, half based on guest participation and half on a rotating storyline.

“I want that little light in the eyes of people to question what’s next,” Cornet said. “Nothing is preset.”

Erratic’s computer system will dispatch vehicles into a central room, before guiding them into one of five show rooms. Inside each room, a different story will unfold on a movie screen, requiring passengers to use a handheld scoring device to rack up points. Throughout the ride, the vehicles will return to the central room before entering one of the five chambers. Each time the vehicle’s spinning motion will be enhanced and the music becomes more dramatic.

“The ride is about motion and [a] crescendo,” Cornet said. “If the motion does not become greater, the ride is a failure, because there is less experience.”

Cornet said the algorithm controlling the motion and direction of the ride was developed using what he learned while building 50 dark rides.

Alterface teamed with ETF Ride Systems to install the first non-linear Erratic at Walibi, Wavre, Belgium. The new attraction will feature “Popcorn Revenge,” a family of new characters based on giant pieces of popcorn with their own personalities.

“We believe people don’t want a revolution, rather an evolution,” Cornet said of the next-generation dark ride.



Amikoo Theme Park Resort Announced for Mayan Riviera

A “new friend” totaling $840 million will be spent to build the Mayan-focused Amikoo Resort Destination Theme Park on Mexico’s Riviera Maya (between Cancun and Playa del Carmen).

“Amikoo means ‘friend’ in the Mayan language,” said Angel Rodriguez, president of Grupo Gala, during a press conference highlighting the project that includes two phases. The resort will be developed by Grupo Gala Resorts & Entertainment and Grupo IUSA.

“The whole concept of Amikoo is based on the wonderful Mayan cosmogony,” Rodriguez said, referring to the Mayan view of the origins of the universe.

The Amikoo complex will combine a top-quality museum, resort, and themed attractions with a presentation of Mayan culture in an environmentally sustainable manner. To this end, 85 of the project’s 120 acres will be preserved in their current natural state.

Phase One of the Amikoo project will include the Amikoo Theme Park with 24 attractions, along with restaurants and shows. The park will also be home to the Maya Anthropology and Archeology Museum, and Amikoo Downtown with 340 hotel rooms, shops, entertainment, and restaurants. Among the property’s attractions will be “Mares de Mexico” (a submarine scientific expedition simulator), a “Fly Over Mexico” flying theater, and “Amikoo Surf Spot” (a combined wave pool and artificial beach).

Phase Two will include 1,000-plus more hotel rooms, plus the Maya Discovery interactive historical exhibition, Maya Extreme (home of the five sacred Maya trees), Maya Adventure (an ancient Mayan city), and Amikoo Land (home of the park’s Amikoo Family characters). 


Auxel Promotes System for Management of Ride Maintenance

Auxel SRL held a press conference to discuss two of its products and services. The most compelling is Unixon, a computerized system allowing users to manage maintenance, safety, and control of various rides and attractions remotely and in real time at amusement parks and other facilities. Auxel said the system is the first of its kind and reduces operating costs while decreasing the number of incidents, human errors, and lost-time events.

During system implementation, sensors are installed on rides to measure vibrations, and if a malfunction or potential malfunction is detected, that information is directed to maintenance personnel for corrective action. “Unixon [streamlines] the monitoring and repair of ride systems, which increases safety,” said Giulia Battistello, business development and sales manager assistant at Auxel.

Auxel also presented its ballast dummy used for ride testing. The ballast, filled with water, is designed to fit most ride seats and comes in 75- and 85-liter models. 



BeaverTails Introduces Smaller Food Cart

BeaverTails debuted a smaller food cart at this year’s Expo. The lightweight, 9.5-foot-wide cart with a canopy covering allows for improved flexibility and portability, said Kristina Zappavigna, development director for BeaverTails, maker of the hot pastries. 

“It has the universal kitchen setup that we have in our other models, but it’s a little more compact and affordable,” she said.

The cart can be staffed by one to three people and has the capacity to serve up to 90 pastries per hour. (Related fun fact: Zappavigna estimated BeaverTails staff would serve around 5,000 samples to attendees by the end of the Expo.)



BirdBuffer Keeps Birds Away with Grape Juice

BirdBuffer unveiled its two newest bird-deterrence fogging machines, both of which work by emitting an environmentally safe vapor made from grapes. Both machines (1.2- and 1-acre coverage) are designed to resemble standard utility-pole equipment, so that birds cannot determine where the vapor is coming from.

“Our best customer is Welch’s,” said BirdBuffer President Gary Crawford. “They love the fact that they know everything that’s in the grape juice.” Other BirdBuffer customers include Costco (which uses it to protect its outdoor food courts), Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, PG&E, and the U.S. Air Force. 

The active ingredient is the BirdBuffer vapor is the proven bird repellant, MA (Methyl Anthranilate). It is derived from a grape juice concentrate/flavoring used in foods such as bubble gum, and is USFDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) approved. MA irritates the eyes and mucous membranes of birds, without causing them health issues. Like a human avoiding an area that smells like a skunk, birds avoid areas that smell of MA, as long as the vapor is ever-present in the environment. This is why the BirdBuffer machines release the vapor during daylight hours in the protected areas (when birds are flying) on an intermittent basis; it prevents birds from settling in.

The BirdBuffer system can be used to protect restaurants, food-processing areas, and even electrical transformers where birds could cause power shorts. This bird repellant is harmless to people, who may only be aware of a “grape smell” in the air when it is applied.



Breeze Creative Brings Kids’ Drawings to Life

Breeze Creative creates children’s activities that combine physical objects with virtual reality, such as the company’s Draw Alive animated dinosaur videos. Kids take a 2-D paper side-view of a dinosaur and color it, then scan it into Draw Alive using its scanner (installed below an HDTV display). The scanner sends the kid’s selected colors to its 3-D animation engine, which then “pops” the 3-D dinosaur into the onscreen video.

Another Breeze Alvie physical/virtual concept is its Animated Sandbox. Kids dig and pile sand in a real sandbox, onto which video images related to various themes (such as an ocean scene) are projected from above. “We use a sensor to sense the height and project accordingly,” said Jacob Ben-Dov. Breeze Creative’s V.P. of products and exhibitions. “So wherever you dig you find water, and wherever you pile up the sand, you build mountains and volcanoes.”



Christie Maps Video Projections to Moving 3-D Objects

Christie took multi-camera video projection to the next level at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 by projecting a realistic “skin” on a rotating model car inside its booth. 

Using two projectors, the combined Christie Mystique/Christie Pandoras Box solution is dynamically mapping and then altering the imagery being projected onto the car, so that its colors and body details are always accurate. The system is built upon a real-time tracking system, where an encoder within the projector constantly updates the Christie system about the turntable’s position.

Although this rotating car is a proof-of-concept demonstration, it points to what could be possible in advanced 3-D mapping. “The vision is to be able to pick the car up off the table, hold it in your hands, and still keep that projection mapped to it in real time,” said Curtis Mutter, Christie’s senior solutions manager.



CITC’s Compact Laser Snow Simulator, LED Moving Fog Machine Pack Big Punch

CITC Special Effects Equipment showcased the Little Blizzard Dazzle laser-illuminated snow simulator, which makes and blows artificial snow, and the Maniac II RGBA LED moving head fog machine. Both self-contained, uber-compact devices provide a one-two punch of dazzling light shows and physical effects.

The Little Blizzard Dazzle adds red, green, and blue laser lights (and combinations) to a blown, long-distance snow stream. “I saw the most beautiful presentation of a laser and falling snow at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert,” said CITC VP Stephany Crawford. “I turned to my husband [CITC President Gary Crawford] and said, ‘We need a machine that will do that.’”

The Manic II RGBA LED moving head fog machine combines a high-tech, sound-sensitive (so it syncs with a song’s beat), multicolor 22-LED light head to time-controllable bursts of SmartFog. The Maniac II can be run alone or be linked to a DMX control system.



D3D’s Birdly Let’s You Flap Your [VR] Wings

Who hasn’t wanted to fly like a bird? Now with Birdly—a virtual reality flight simulator that integrates an HTC Vive headset with the mechanics of a motion table—you can. Lay face down on the device, extend your arms across the appendages, then flap your arms to gain speed, dip the “wings” to dive, and angle upward to soar higher. The movements, as seen in the headset, are consistent with the biomechanics of bird flight.

Initial animation is based on New York City, though variations include the Swiss Alps and a black-and-white segment with King Kong. A fan provides wind; there’s functionality for scents, as well.

D3D Cinema, the North American distributor, is exploring ways to gamify the experience, including linking devices for multiplayer games. Additional underwater and prehistoric content are also being developed, with users becoming a manta ray or pterosaur. 

Birdly was first introduced in museums—including the National Aviary in Pittsburgh and the Houston Museum of Natural Science—but is now being marketed to theme parks and family entertainment centers. Attractions can lease Birdly for as little as $3,000/month, while D3D officials point to case studies showing the device can generate up to $20,000 in monthly revenue.



Dynamic Attractions Unveils ‘All-Terrain Dark Ride’

Using proprietary military technology, Dynamic Attractions has developed a groundbreaking autonomous, trackless dark ride vehicle that can climb and descend steep banks (up to 30 degrees), traverse rough ground like boulders and temple ruins, and even make airtime jumps. Multiple self-driving vehicles can be deployed in the same attraction; riders never know where their car is headed, because each one may go in a different direction. 

“No dark ride vehicle has ever been able to do what this vehicle can do,” said Dynamic Attractions CEO Guy Nelson. “This brings the thrilling, all-terrain movement and agility to an intense, theme park-style adventure.”

“No track, no rails, no rules,” said Dynamic Attractions Senior Vice President George Walker. “We are able to intentionally put you in seemingly precarious and thrilling situations, but in reality, we are always in complete control.” Dynamic Attractions has exclusive rights to the military-grade, ultra-wideband positioning system that makes this possible. 

In an optional twist, riders can also take over at the steering wheel. If they come too close to another vehicle or an obstacle that can not be traversed, like a wall, the system overrides them.

Pricing for the ride is “much more affordable than you would think,” Walker said. “Pretty much anyone doing half a million people a year should be in the market for this.”



Extreme Engineering, Mega Parc Partner on Record-Setting Cloud Coaster

The new Mega Parc indoor amusement park and Extreme Engineering held a joint press conference during Expo announcing a new Cloud Coaster that will actually pass through a spokeless Ferris wheel.

Mega Parc is scheduled to reopen in late 2018 at Les Galeries de la Capitale mall in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. The addition of the Cloud Coaster is part of a CA$52 million redevelopment of the existing park that’s operated at the mall under the same name. Jean Pelletier, who serves as the operation’s general manager for facility owner Oxford Properties Group, said, “It will be the longest Cloud Coaster in North America and will zoom in and out of the Ferris wheel.”

The Cloud Coaster is a zipline roller coaster that allows guests to ride in tandem at speeds up to 22 mph. The coaster’s rider weight limit of 45 pounds to 250 pounds makes it accessible to a wide range of guests. The Mega Parc coaster will accommodate 120 riders per hour. 



Funovation Launches Mission-Based Rapid Alien Invasion Defense Attraction

Funovation, the company behind the popular Laser Maze Challenge, announced the launch of its second product on the Expo show floor.

RAID, short for Rapid Alien Invasion Defense, places the player at the center of a covert mission to save the planet from alien destruction. To achieve this goal, customers (primarily ages 6 and older) must decode puzzles within a time limit to avoid capture. 

“There are plenty of secrets hidden within these walls,” said Ryan Borton, Funovation CEO, motioning to RAID. “The players won’t know about them initially, but as they go through the gameplay, they will discover the objectives and solve the puzzles.”

The first shipments of the fully turnkey, 120-square-foot attraction, which took a year to develop, will go out in February 2018.



‘American Ninja Warrior’ Meets ‘Wipeout’ in Galaxy Ninja

In a marrying of the popular TV shows “American Ninja Warrior” and “Wipeout,” Galaxy Multi Rides unveiled the Galaxy Ninja, a family-centric motorized adventure course.

“You just won’t see ripped guys with six packs trying it,” stressed Mike Whincup, head of design and marketing for the company. “This can be done by anyone willing to give it a go, from toddlers to grandparents.”

The course, which features an incline treadmill, interactive motion, and suspended hanging obstacles, can be configured to meet a facility’s space requirements. It also features a scoreboard, as well as start and stop buttons to get the competition going.



Golf Pro Debuts Versatile Inflatable Simulator 

The new inflatable golf simulator by Golf Pro Delivered can let people try to hit a hole-in-one in nearly any environment. Created by two professional golfers, the portable, weatherproof attraction works anywhere from corporate events to parties to stationary locations.

“You could set it up in a downpour and still play golf,” said co-founder Nicolas Miller, a first-time Expo exhibitor.

Broken down, the climate-controlled simulator is about the size of a large garbage can. It inflates in less than two minutes and can be fully set up in about 45 minutes.

“Instead of committing to one spot, you can take it down when you don’t think it’s going to be used,” Miller said. “Or you can move it to wherever the action will be.”

Plus, players can expect an authentic experience from the simulator, he noted. The technology mirrors what Miller and company co-founder Jeffrey Wibben used to improve their golf games.



Holovis’ Ride and Realm Turns Whole Theme Park into Interactive Attraction

Holovis spotlighted Ride and Realm, which the company calls a “next-generation gaming system” via a mobile app that turns a theme park into an exploratory adventure. 

The app does this by overlaying augmented reality scenes on top of actual park locations, which players can see on their smartphones in real time. Installing proximity beacons, geofencing, and Wi-Fi triangulation within the park provides players with a live digital map to help them earn points and move up skill levels. 

“We see this concept expanding so that all park-wide media, both on and off rides, react differently for every individual,” said Holovis Creative Director Peter Cliff. 

The Ride and Realm experience can even offer games and tasks that guests complete off-site, so the narratives they encounter upon returning to the park will be different than before.



Intercard’s Shindigger Lets Customers Book FEC Parties by Smartphone

Intercard unveiled the Shindigger party and reservation system for family entertainment centers (FECs), which is due for release in early 2018. 

Designed to let customers book FEC parties on their smartphones 24/7, Shindigger allows these users to easily reserve a location, day, time, guest count, and specific party package for their event. 

Value pricing is a big part of the Shindigger package. “With us, it’s $100 a month,” said Intercard Global Marketing Manager Lynda Brotherton. “In addition, installation is only $300.”

Shindigger reservation software is hosted remotely but integrates with an FEC’s website. It can be branded to match the FEC site’s specific theming. The software is backed by 24/7 support from Intercard.



Kern Studios Uses Robot to Sculpt Huge Props

Thanks to an eight-axis Kuka robot—the same type used to build the fuselage of the SpaceX rocket—Kern Studios can now create larger-than-life props, each replicated with an amazing degree of detail, in just four weeks. 

The robot, designed for manufacturing, has been taught to sculpt. It’s also positioned on a rail that allows it to work on objects up to 68 feet long and 12 feet in diameter.

In addition to halving production time, robotic sculpting ensures 3-D designs are duplicated with precision on a larger scale. Props like Louis Armstrong and court jesters are cast in aliphatic urethanes, a material that is only just now being applied to themed products. 

“If you maintain these props that we’re building, they will last indefinitely,” said Barry Kern, the company’s president and CEO. “As long as you clean them every five years, and put on a fresh paint and clear coat, these things will be around forever.”



LAI’s ‘Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride’ Brings Attendant-Free VR Gaming to FECs

LAI Games is bringing the full-motion, 360-degree VR headset experience to FECs with the new two-person “Virtual Rabbids” attraction. Branded as “Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride,” the attraction features the popular (and wacky) animated “Rabbids” characters seen in videogames and on Nickelodeon and Facebook. 

In addition, “Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride” is an attendant-free experience. Without any staff intervention or monitoring required, a pair of paying guests can sit themselves down, put on the VR headsets, and then go along on a zany full-motion (moving chair) ride with the Virtual Rabbids. To heighten the VR experience, “The Big Ride” uses onboard fans to blow wind in the riders’ faces. At the same time, people in line can see what’s happening in the ride via a facing-forward HDTV screen mounted above the seats. This video builds anticipation while keeping queued guests entertained.

“We will be launching the Rabbids’ VR Experience with three different rides (within the same unit),” said David Loggins, LAI Games’ sales operations specialist. “These are premium experiences, each one different than the other.” All three onboard rides feature lots of twists, turns, thrills, and spills backed by silly yet engaging 3-D full-motion graphics and fast-paced humor.

Billed as the first attendant-free VR attraction for arcades and FECs, LAI Games designed “The Big Ride” to work like any conventional coin-operated amusement game. It offers these operators the chance to tap into the VR craze while using a familiar form factor.



Mack, Silver Dollar City Showcase Next-Gen Spinning Vehicle

A grand unveiling took place at Expo as Mack Rides and Silver Dollar City (SDC) revealed a car from the park’s new roller coaster, “Time Traveler,” opening in March 2018. 

There will be four such spinning cars on each of the ride’s three trains, and a proud Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, exclaimed, “Fasten your seat belts because this will be the fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning coaster on Earth! ‘Time Traveler’ represents a $26 million investment, the largest single investment in the history of Silver Dollar City.”

The 3,020-foot-long ride will feature a 10-story, 90-degree drop, two LSM launches, and three inversions. Each of the four cars on the coaster’s trains will continually spin 360 degrees along its journey, but the spinning is not uncontrolled. Rather, Mack Rides developed adjustable magnetic spin control for the vehicles in which on-board magnets will reduce the spinning, and the force of that dampening can be adjusted by the park.



Magic Jump’s DuraBounce Extends Inflatables' Lifespan

Magic Jump’s new DuraBounce super-premium fabric is designed to provide extra life to the company’s line of Indoor Party Center (IPC) inflatables. According to Magic Jump, an IPC inflatable made of DuraBounce combined with fabric reinforcements will last up 3.5 years, based on an average operation of five days a week with 40 inflatable ride users per day. In contrast, Magic Jump’s standard IPC fabric with reinforcements is rated to last up to 2.5. years under the same conditions, while standard commercial fabric not rated for FECs only lasts up to 1.5 years.

“DuraBounce is the most durable fabric in the inflatable industry, and it is specifically designed for family entertainment centers,” said Michael Berreth, Magic Jump’s VP of marketing. “The problem that we’re solving with DuraBounce is that FECs are open five to seven days a week with 10-hour days, so their inflatables experience very heavy traffic and very heavy usage.”



Maurer Spotlights ‘World’s First Interactive Racing Coaster’

Maurer Rides turned heads with its two-seat, motorcycle-styled Spike racing coaster. 

Winner of the 2017 Brass Ring Award for Best New Product (cost of $3 million or more), the Spike is “the world’s first interactive roller coaster,” said Torsten Schmidt, Maurer’s business development manager. Each two-seater car has its own independent electrical engine and a throttle that can bring the Spike up to 37 mph on straight sections. 

This said, ride operators can limit the speeds reached by the Spike on specified track sections, including directing each racing coaster car to stop and reverse if so desired. The ride is equipped with seatbelts. The Spike racing coaster has been installed in Allgäu Skyline Park in Munich, Germany, under the name “Sky Dragster.” With its own engine onboard, the Spike can be run on flat tracks, not needing as many hills. 



MediaMation Offers Price-Conscious Flying Theater-Like Experience

Step into the theater, fasten your seatbelt, and before you know it, your seat glides forward, leaving your feet dangling over the edge. You feel like you’re smack in the middle of the high-resolution video playing on the screen of the dome theater.

MediaMation’s Flying EFX Theatre—which leverages the company’s popular MX4D seats—is a low-cost alternative to more traditional flying theaters.

“What we wanted to do was bring our motion into a flying theater scenario without all of the expensive mechanisms,” explained MediaMation CEO Daniel Jamele. “Our concept utilizes all of the existing technology we have in what we consider a much more cost-effective format.”

The theater can be customized for theme parks, family entertainment centers, and cruise ships. Small versions of four to eight seats cost about $175,000. Bigger theaters that can seat hundreds of viewers cost $2-3 million.



Miniature Art Produces Hyper-Accurate Architectural Models

Miniature Art wowed Expo attendees with hyper-realistic models of famous landmarks, such as Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Crafted in exquisite detail, these miniatures give viewers the sense of actually looking at the real thing—albeit from the perspective of a human giant. Despite their elegant, handcrafted detail, Miniature Art’s models are warrantied to stand up to outdoor conditions “for 40 years” in both extremely cold and hot climates, according to Nihat Ökten, the company’s owner and general manager. 

Although the specific composition of Miniature Art’s materials is proprietary, Ökten revealed the material is a mixture of concrete and polyresin. The buildings themselves are built using information from “tens of thousands of photographs,” he said, and then drafted using a 3-D AutoCAD (Computer-Aided Design) system.



Picsolve Harnesses Facial Recognition to Boost In-Park Photo Sales

Picsolve is harnessing facial recognition software to help attraction operators substantially boost photo sales to their visitors. At the same time, the new platform will make image management and sales far easier.

Under the new Picsolve distribution/sales platform, photos shot by attraction photographers and at ride locations will be stored in the cloud, where visitors can access and purchase them online or via an app. As they select one or more photos for purchase, the attraction-branded Picsolve website/app can use facial recognition to find every other photo of these customers shot during their visit. With all of these photos made immediately available to visitors for real-time social media posting and downloads for personal collections, the odds of selling more of them are improved.

“Destinations will no longer rely on customers making purchases from a booth,” said Picsolve CTO Dan Maunder. Moving such sales to the web will free up staff, he added, allowing more to be dispatched throughout the park to shoot more photos. Meanwhile, the use of facial recognition makes the image management and retrieval system much simpler for operators.

According to Picsolve, the company’s new photo-management system will be pilot tested at a number of world-class visitor destinations, including an unidentified casino/resort on the Las Vegas Strip. 



Polin Unveils Bevy of New Products at Expo

Polin Waterparks showcased a number of cutting-edge rides at this year’s Expo.

The company’s new Splash VR product marries waterproof virtual reality (VR) headsets to a real-time raft tracking system on Splash VR-equipped water slides. 

“We exactly know the location of the rider,” said Polin Director of Marketing and Communications Söhret Pakis. This feature allows Splash VR’s 3-D video (displayed within the headsets) to synchronize with the rider’s physical position and visual perspective, enhancing the ride’s realism while avoiding rider motion sickness. 

The Splash VR system, which can be integrated into existing water slides, has been installed at The Land of Legends water park in Antalya, Turkey. 

Pakisş also showcased Polin’s Splash Cabin and Slide’N Score. Splash Cabin is a stationary attraction where guests wear a VR headset and battle animated opponents on an interactive screen—who, in return, battle back with water. Slide’N Score combines rider-activated remote controls with flashing lights within a water slide. The riders push color-coded buttons on the remotes as they pass various colored LEDs, allowing the riders to score points. 

Additionally, Polin released its new Mantis Class-A water slide, which allows riders to race against one another when two symmetrical slides have been installed side by side. The attraction features a mix of open and closed slides, plus a giant concave curved basin that leads to a final short tunnel and finishes in a run-out or splash pool. 



Producers Group, Premier Partner on ‘Adventure Dining’ 

The Producers Group, in collaboration with Premier Rides, has developed an immersive dining experience called Extraordinary Voyages: Adventure Dining. Up to 80 guests enter a 15,000-square-foot motion-based platform surrounded by customized multimedia for an adventure journey to fantastic new worlds. The turnkey solution is part dinner theater, part motion simulator. 

“The motion is gentle, like dining on a train car,” explained The Producers Group’s Rob Palmer. “The multimedia destination package can be swapped out, so franchises can run multiple shows each day and encourage repeat visitations.” 



RMC Showcases ‘Twisted Cyclone’ Headed to Six Flags Over Georgia

If the Hayden, Idaho, design studios at Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) were a kitchen, you would not find a cookie cutter in sight. Over the past several years, the company’s made a name for itself with a combination of original coasters and remaking older wooden rides with steel track. 

“The conversions force each coaster to be different,” said RMC roller coaster designer Alan Schilke. “That’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Schilke joined James Geiser, corporate vice president of sales and marketing for Six Flags, to debut the lead car of “Twisted Cyclone,” headed to Six Flags Over Georgia in 2018.

“What’s so cool about this ride is that we take a classic [wooden] coaster, and put steel track on it and turn it into this amazing new thrill machine,” Geiser said.

“Twisted Cyclone” will be the seventh RMC wood-to-steel track conversion for Six Flags. Crews in Georgia spent this autumn removing the track from the former “Georgia Cyclone,” a mirror of the original “Coney Island Cyclone.” 

The new coaster will no longer feature white supports like its New York cousin, but will rather be painted gray.

“What was old is new again,” Geiser said of “Twisted Cyclone’s” fresh identity. The new trains are modeled after a 1960s sports car. Both the black car—on display at the Expo—and a red model will travel the steel-blue rails with a new element: the reverse cobra roll.

“Normally, most RMC coasters start off with airtime hills, and I pack the inversions at the end,” explained Schilke. “This one has the inversions right up front.”

Planning the conversion that will include a total of three inversions started more than a year ago. “It’s a big challenge every time,” RMC founder Fred Grubb said of the custom refurbishment process. “To have a company like this, and work with Alan, I am blessed.” 



Ride Entertainment, Valtiner Send Stand-Up E-Motionboard to Six Flags Dubai

Ride Entertainment partnered with Valtiner & Partner Attractions to announce the first E-Motionboard theater system will open at Six Flags Dubai as a virtual reality (VR) experience in 2019. The multimedia attraction places guests in a standing position rather than having them sit in a traditional theater configuration.

“When you’re standing, you’re a lot more physically involved,” said Valtiner’s Herbert Gall. “When you’re standing and [the platform] moves with six degrees of freedom, you have a very different immersion.”

The E-Motionboard uses Motion Grid technology allowing 39 guests to comfortably stand and enjoy the film, and the platform is wheelchair accessible. The theater system works with 2-D, 3-D, and VR experiences and offers special effects such as wind, scents, strobe lights, drop effects, and translucent floor and wall panels. 



S&S-Sansei to Revive Classic Arrow ‘Steeplechase’

In 1977, Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England, opened “Steeplechase,” a unique Arrow Dynamics ride that first debuted at Knott’s Berry Farm a year earlier. Forty years later, the Blackpool coaster is still in operation. The attraction remains so popular that it spurred a Tuesday press conference by S&S-Sansei, where the ride manufacturer announced it is reviving the classic Arrow coaster. During Expo, the company showcased a concept vehicle, shaped like a horse. 

S&S-Sansei’s Pete Barto said, “It is not a matter of just making the same thing. We want to keep the ride experience exciting and fun, but to update it and the restraints. Our [new] lapbar restraint reduces the minimum height requirement from 55 inches to 42 inches. We want to stay with a chainlift and also have a mobius loop.”

Barto noted S&S-Sansei hopes to bring back the great feel of some of the classic Arrow rides, and “Steeplechase” marks the first effort to revive some of those vintage designs. 



Six Flags, Skyline Attractions Reveal Skywarp Coaster Vehicle

Skyline Attractions teamed with Six Flags to uncover the ride vehicle for the world’s first Skywarp roller coaster, opening in 2018 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, California. 

To be called the “Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster,” the ride is touted by Skyline as “maniacal”—a coaster featuring 12 dueling flybys and 12 head-over-heels inversions along the vertically oriented figure-8 track. Its two trains, seating a total of 32 riders, simultaneously travel around two loops and pass one another a dozen times during these continuous inversions.

“Six Flags came to us and asked, ‘Can you give us something that has never been done before?’ and we said, ‘Yes, we can!’” declared Jeff Pike, president of Skyline Attractions. “It’s the world’s first dueling looping coaster, the very first and only one of its kind on Earth, and we aren’t using regular roller coaster wheels—these are 16-inch high-performance wheels.” 



Stroller Costumes Ride into the Attractions Industry

A father wanted something to entertain his 2-year-old son in his stroller and, just like that, Stroller Costumes was born. Founder Moshe Atkins creates foldable wraps that transform the baby carriages into fun, engaging rides for kids. 

“I researched it, filed a patent, designed it, and two and a half years later, I’m here [at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017],” Atkins said. “My kids love it, and when I’d take my son out, I got mobbed by parents asking me, ‘Where did you buy that?’ They wanted it, too.”

Stroller Costumes, based in Las Vegas, offers six different products: a police car, a dump truck, red and pink race cars, a princess carriage, and a firetruck (the company’s best-seller).



Sub Sea Systems Unveils Underwater Driving Experience

Sub Sea Systems made a splash on the Expo floor as it launched Aquaticar. On the unique underwater driving experience, guests load on land while a staff member pivots a canopy with a large acrylic viewing panel overhead. The vehicles transfer from a moving platform onto a specialized track, where gravity feeds the cars into a body of water, submerging guests to a depth of about eight feet. People stay dry from mid-chest up and get wet below that. Fresh air is pumped into the canopy as guests steer along the track.

“It’s a ride that tells a story in a water park environment,” said Hannah de Bie, vice president of marketing and communications, noting it can be themed to anything from a coral reef to a Mars landscape to a dark ride.

Geared for ages 5 and up, the vehicle travels at about 2 mph, with total ride time at four to five minutes. 



Triotech Enters VR Market in Partnership with Ubisoft

Triotech will enter the virtual reality (VR) market by partnering with Ubisoft, a digital interactive attractions company, announced on the Expo.

“It’s a multi-title agreement, so hopefully, it will be a partnership that lasts many years,” said Ernest Yale, founder, president, and CEO of Triotech. 

The creator, publisher, and distributor of interactive entertainment provided content for Triotech’s latest offering, a VR maze based on Ubisoft’s popular family-friendly “Rabbids” franchise, which was shown at the Expo. The fully modular product only requires a 10-square-meter footprint.

“You’ve tried VR before, but you’ve never tried an attraction like this one,” Yale said. “It’s fun, simple, and compelling—and it’s only a first.”

Following “Rabbids,” Ubisoft is developing content for Triotech based on the hit action-adventure “Assassin’s Creed” property, said Deborah Papiernik, senior vice president of new business for Ubisoft. The new VR maze—to be released in 2018—will center on the company’s latest “Assassin’s Creed” game, where players explore the mysteries of an Egyptian temple.

“You will definitely have the impression that you’re in a temple when you try this experience,” Papiernik promised.



Walltopia’s Adventure Hub Combines Several Active Attractions in One

Climbing-wall manufacturer Walltopia out of Bulgaria has developed a new product that combines more than a half-dozen adventure activities into a single structure. The Adventure Hub features climbing walls, artificial caves, adventure trails, ropes, a zipline, a freefall device that mimics base jumping, and a giant parabolic slide.

“We see a need in the industry for creative ways to put all of the adventure activities together and make it as one immersive experience,” said Zlatimira Bancheva, Walltopia’s head of sales. “It’s a unique take on such a big number of adventure activities in one structure.”

The 7,000-square-foot Adventure Hub can be set up as a mini-adventure park with a single admissions ticket, or as gated attractions. It sells for $3 million. The first Adventure Hub was introduced in Ukraine; the next hub will launch in Qatar in early 2018.



Water Wars Showcases New Pirate-Themed Attraction

Yo ho ho! Water Wars displayed a new wooden pirate-themed attraction at this year’s Expo. The system where guests launch water balloons at each other comes with sails, a lookout perch, and a Jolly Roger flag.

“There are so many pirate things out there, so the fact that we haven’t done this already seems a little odd,” joked company owner Tommy Woog. 

This customizable Water Wars attraction also includes its popular depth-charge explosion component where players can soak their opponents when they hit the target. 

“It just raises the bar on the fun of the product,” he said, noting the feature helps to generate increased and repeat play.



‘What the Puck!’ Brings Hockey Action to Small Spaces

Smaaash is bringing ice hockey action to small spaces with its “What The Puck!” indoor hockey attraction. Walled in by hockey-style boards in a 10-foot-by-20-foot space, “What the Puck!” pits a single player against a robotic goalkeeper. The player shoots using an actual hockey stick and a special reflective puck. The puck is tracked by an overhead camera connected to a computer that moves the robotic goalie to block the shots.

“The computer makes a decision in less than a second,” said Richard Rasmuson, Smaaash USA’s facility manager at the Mall of America, where Smaaash installed a “What the Puck!” attraction. The system is adjustable, so the goalie’s ability to block incoming shots can be adjusted downward (for easier play) or upward. But forget fooling the tracking system by turning the puck over, Rasmuson said: “The puck is reflective on both sides.” 



WhiteWater Covers ‘Play Types,’ New Products

The four kinds of “play types” and new products drove WhiteWater’s packed Expo press conference. The four “play types” refer to the four kinds of child personalities that play on water park rides and attractions, which the company has broken down into Socializers, Adventurers, Dreamers, and Challengers. The point of the exercise is to provide a more meaningful way for attraction owners to select rides with wide appeal, rather than relying on traditional demographics, such as gender and age.

“What we’ve actually done, using a pair of child psychologists, is to look at the psychology of the guests and how guests at parks interact with the various attractions,” said WhiteWater Chief Business Development Officer Paul Chutter. WhiteWater is now surveying people to collect further data on these “play types,” and will release its findings to the attractions industry.

The WhiteWater presentation also touched on some of the company’s new products, including the No Boundaries play structure. Available in sizes as tall as 72 feet, No Boundaries delivers a mix of harnessed and unharnessed climbing activities for kids of all ages. By offering progressively tougher physical challenges as climbers go higher, No Boundaries serves both young kids at the bottom and teenagers at the top. WhiteWater also spotlighted its inflatable FlowRider Triple surfing ride and a new partnership with Denmark’s Mobaro Park, a provider of theme/water park safety management systems.



Zamperla Launches High-Tech Z+ Business Division

Zamperla announced the launch of Z+, a business division dedicated to the use of the latest technology applied to rides.

“A differentiated identity shows just how serious we are in developing amazing new experiences for our customers,” said Marco Mazzucchi, marketing manager of Zamperla and business developer of Z+.

Z+ plans to release at least one new product annually, he said. As part of the brand launch this year, Zamperla debuted at the Expo a virtual reality (VR) application on its well-known WindstarZ ride; the VR Box, a six-dimensional suspended simulator that incorporates VR content; and the CozmoJet ride, which features video and an interactive gaming console that allows guests to shoot aliens and track their scores.



ZipFlyer Unveils V2 ZipCoaster Trolley

ZipFlyer LLC, a manufacturer and installer of commercial ziplines and ZipCoaster systems, discussed its team, new products, and upcoming projects during its press conference at the Expo. ZipFlyer officials shared information about its V2 ZipCoaster, which was designed with modularity so operators can build and design the attraction that lets guests fly through the air to fit their specifications and budgets. It will be operational in Hawaii in 2018.

Shawn Lerner, founder and CEO of ZipFlyer, unveiled the company’s V2 ZipCoaster Trolley, featuring a new variable, dynamic braking system.

“At ZipFlyer, we strive to combine the old world of adventure with the new world of technology,” Lerner said. 

The trolley’s Eddy Current Braking System is designed to offer consistent speeds and experiences, accounting for variables such as rider weight and changing slope conditions. Inside the trolley, there are wheels that monitor the speed of riders between 60 and 300 pounds. Numerous installations of the V2 ZipCoaster and V2 ZipCoaster Trolley will be going into venues across North America.