IAE18 Expo Recap - Intro - January 2019


IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 welcomed 42,000 attractions industry professionals.

An Expo to Remember

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 surpasses records with the highest attendance and largest trade show floor in the event’s history

Story by Juanita Chavarro Arias

Photos by Patrick Buckley Images, Dan Higgins, Steven Miller Photography, and Nelson Photography

Ceremoniously wrapping IAAPA’s 100-year celebration, IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 was certainly a memorable one, from the unveiling of the association’s new brand at the Kickoff Event to an exciting performance from Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies at IAAPA Celebrates: IAAPA’s Centennial Celebration at Universal Studios Florida.

From Nov. 12 to 16, a record 42,000 registered attractions industry professionals arrived at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center to learn from world-renowned industry experts during the education conference, network with industry colleagues, and peruse the Expo’s largest trade show floor, totaling 600,375 net square feet. More than 1,150 companies displayed innovative new products and services, and the trade show floor expanded to include the new Exploration Station outdoor, climate-controlled structure.

“There is no better way to celebrate IAAPA’s centennial anniversary than with a remarkable and record-breaking Expo,” said Hal McEvoy, IAAPA president and CEO. “IAAPA’s mission is to connect attractions professionals with each other and with new and innovative ideas. All that and much more happened here in Orlando.”

Presenting topics ranging from food and beverage trends to influencer marketing, the Expo’s education program drew 15,128 participants to 149 experiences which included multiple-day institutes and symposia, behind-the-scenes EDUTours at area attractions, panel and roundtable discussions, and constituency lunches.


Brazil’s Monica and Friends characters interacted with attendees throughout the Expo.

More than 1,800 people attended the Kickoff Event, the Expo’s official opening session, and Brazil’s Monica and Friends characters—part of entertainment company Mauricio de Sousa Produções—were on hand to greet attendees as they entered the IAAPA Theater as official ambassadors in honor of IAAPA’s 100th anniversary. Adding to the centennial celebration, two local attractions, the “Orlando Starflyer” swing ride tower and “ICON Orlando” observation wheel, turned purple, commemorating IAAPA’s signature colors on two evenings during the Expo week.

Through a series of special events, Expo attendees and IAAPA members raised approximately $120,000 for Give Kids The World and approximately $50,000 for the IAAPA ­Foundation, benefiting programs that support tomorrow’s attractions industry leaders and the Al Weber Scholarship Fund.


Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies performed at IAAPA Celebrates: IAAPA’s Centennial Celebration at Universal Studios Florida.

“It’s been a great show this year. The floor, the education, the record-breaking attendance: it’s representative of the industry and the direction we’re heading in,” said 2019 IAAPA Chairman of the Board David Rosenberg of Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. “This week is setting the groundwork for the next hundred years, and to see a show like this, that sets the bar as high as it is, couldn’t be more exciting.”

In the following pages, Funworld recaps IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018, highlighting award winners, new products and announcements presented on the trade show floor, signature events, education sessions, and more.