IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas


Event Type: Education
Venue: Online
Member Price: $99 | Nonmember Price: $149


From 1:00 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. EST (Eastern Standard Time). Check your local time zone!

This September, we are bringing the IAAPA classroom to you. Take part in IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas, a new education series where you can hear from industry thought leaders from around the world, connect with your peers, and generate ideas that will bring a brighter future for your business. All Online.

Listen and participate in your language!
Simultaneous translation English-Spanish will be provided.

Why Attend?

Being trained and fit is the best tool with which you can face situations of change, and what better way to do it than with international experts with vast experience in operation and leadership. IAAPA offers this unique training opportunity, with updated content and in an innovative format, right at your fingertips.

What to Expect

Two days full of inspiration and creativity that will help you and your business freshen up your operation. We will offer keynote sessions, live Q&A, and networking opportunities to connect with your peers and bring back valuable ideas for your business.

Marketplace opportunity

IAAPA M&S members will also be offered the opportunity to participate in the IAAPA Marketplace, an additional exposure opportunity during the IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas. Participating members will feature their logo, QR code and company description during the IAAPA Marketplace presentation, which will be then delivered to all event attendees for future reference.

  • Sponsor this event! For more sponsorship information find the Prospectus online and contact information for IAAPA staff below. Show your industry support and spotlight your brand by getting involved as an official event sponsor.
Registration Rates
IAAPA Member $99
Nonmember $149
Marketplace $249
Registration fee includes two-day personal online access to the Virtual Conference: The Americas, networking virtual events, a virtual certificate of attendance, and 6 credits towards your IAAPA Certification.
IAAPA Virtual Conference Code of Conduct
  • IAAPA virtual events provide an ideal opportunity to exchange information, participate in education sessions, and network. IAAPA is committed to providing a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. We expect all attendees, journalists, speakers, staff, volunteers, organizers, venue staff, vendors, and exhibitors to help us ensure a safe and positive experience for everyone. The guidelines for appropriate behavior and conduct at all IAAPA virtual events are listed below. Also included are the expectations for participant behavior, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behavior.
  • By registering for the IAAPA virtual event your contact information including name and company name will be visible during the event to other attendees as you interact in chat rooms, and shared with the event sponsors.
  • Do not initiate or participate in any activities that are prohibited below, illegal, harmful, or interfere with anyone's use of the virtual event, including the sending of e-mail or instant messaging spam.
  • Comply with all applicable local, national, and international laws and regulations and these Terms of Use.

Ethical and Appropriate Conduct

  • Be considerate, respectful, and collaborative.
  • Refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior or speech.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings at all times.
  • Alert event venue security or a member of the IAAPA team if you notice a dangerous or harassing situation or someone in distress.

Prohibiting Activities

You are solely responsible for the activity which occurs under your user account. You are prohibited from, and agree not to:

  • create false user accounts, use another individual’s user account or otherwise access the virtual event in an unauthorized manner;
  • copy, modify, reproduce, transmit, republish, distribute or create derivatives of any of the content, software or materials available in the virtual event;
  • launch any automated system, including, but not limited to, “robots”, “spiders” or “offline readers” which access the virtual event platform in a manner that sends more request messages to the platform in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period of time by using a conventional on-line web browser;
  • transmit material that contains malicious code, such as viruses, timebombs, cancelbots, worms, trojan horses, spyware, or other potentially harmful elements;
  • use the communication systems made available to you within the virtual event for commercial solicitation, unless expressly authorized to do so by the virtual event sponsor or intentionally omit, delete, forge or misrepresent transmission information, including headers, return mailing and internet protocol addresses;
  • collect or harvest any personally identifiable information;
  • make or submit any sexually explicit, racially, culturally or ethnically offensive, harmful, harassing, intimidating, threatening, hateful, discriminatory or abusive statements or content;
  • impersonate any other person or entity or stalk or otherwise harass any other user;
  • make or submit any obscene, hateful or otherwise offensive material, comments or content;
  • submit content which features pornographic, sexually explicit, describes or encourages dangerous our illegal acts, graphic or gratuitously violent content; or
  • invade another user’s privacy or publish another user’s personally identifiable information without such user’s consent.


IAAPA reserves the right to prohibit and prevent the attendance, participation, or registration of any individual or firm for any reason with the exclusive discretion of IAAPA, prior or during the virtual event. IAAPA need not disclose or describe the reasons for its decision to do so.


David McKillips, Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese, the largest FEC brand in the world, has been battling through the challenges of the Pandemic of 2020 while setting itself up for future growth.  Hear from CEO, David McKillips, about how they plan to evolve its growth plan by delivering the safest experience for its guests, while identifying new entertainment and emerging technology trends into its brand in-store, at-home and online.


In today’s world of high tech and social media, more and more people/companies rely on technology to do its selling. Technology is expected to execute the "sales cycle." Technology is expected to do the job of the salesperson. If we do not close a sale, can we blame the website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.? We must be reminded constantly of the principals of selling, how we sell, and why we sell. “Nothing happens in this world until a sale is made. No product, no matter how good, sells by itself. It is sold by a salesperson". Selling and Buying is Emotional. Money is important to us and for us to part with our money is a major emotional decision. Social media and the computer have no feelings and emotions, it doesn’t smile, it doesn’t cry, and it doesn’t express itself in any way. 

Kevin McNulty, NetWeave Social Networking

Social media is such a big part of our lives now that people naturally flock to it for information in times of crisis, and as we've all seen lately, a crisis doesn't have to be something internal to your attraction, it can be something in the wider environment that affects your guests and their behavior. Learn the fundamentals of crisis communication in all types of situations and how they apply to the unique environment of social media. 

Greg Hale, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

From the beginning, Walt Disney’s philosophy for his parks and resorts was built upon innovation – centering around technology to create new and exciting experiences for our Guests. To this day, we continue to explore new and innovative ideas to advance Disney as a leader in the industry. Greg Hale, Chief Safety Officer and Vice President of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide continues to support this philosophy by exploring new technological solutions to create a safer and more accessible world for our Guests. Through his passion, experience and knowledge, Greg has helped establish Disney as a leader in the industry for safety and technology and continues to innovate new and advanced solutions for the future. 

Breakout groups

Teresa Cardenas, Grupo Xcaret; Linda A. Freeman, Rockwell Automation

With the increasing and necessary digitization of park and attractions operations, attention to the protection of information and ensuring attraction safety is vital to achieving the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT). Implementing cybersecurity measures according to your operation and risks should be the first step of your digitization plan.  

Matt Heller, Performance Optimist Consulting; Shaun McKeogh, Attractions Academy

The new normal is here, and if you have reopened, or are in the process of re-opening, you know that customer service will look quite a bit different due to the impact of COVID-19.  Or will it? 

 While protocols have changed, the process of entertaining and caring for your guests has not. The same kindness, knowledge and compassion are needed to make your guests feel welcome so they will want to come back again and again. 

 Your customer service should reflect your values, themes and brand identity. Since this is not a one-size-fits-all process, we will not be giving you a bullet point list of things to do to improve customer service. Instead, we will share stories and examples of outstanding customer service and what that organization did to make sure it happened.  The real lessons will not come from a PowerPoint, but from experiencing the emotional impact our service can create. 

Felipe Arteaga, Happyland

Join us in discovering the keys to customer service; to understand and enhance the interactive visitor experience for your guests. 

 Instead of focusing on a single aspect of the guest experience, motivation and collaboration are key to lead a comprehensive experience - building upon the younger generation and beyond. As important as protocols are, going beyond this is critical for success. Passionate leaders will inspire others and inspire loyalty in their teams through respect and acknowledging their needs. 

Jim Pattison Jr., Ripley Entertainment

Join Jim Pattison Jr., President of Ripley Entertainment, with a variable cast of characters, and go behind the scenes to discuss new approaches to the many elements of the design and operations of small attractions! 

Leslie DaCruz, Stradeation

We live at a time when every sector and industry is facing major disruption, from technology, competitors, consumer expectations.  What if individuals and companies could learn and apply disruptive strategic thinking to get way ahead of the disruptions facing them? There are patterns and attitudes that great disruptive thinkers have.  This workshop will introduce these outside-the-box concepts and frameworks. 

Breakout groups


    *Please be aware that all times in the Agenda are EST (Eastern Standard Time zone). Check your local time.




    Mike Abecassis

    Owner/CEO, GameTime

    Mike is an innovative CEO with 30 years of experience developing new business models and turning them into successful businesses. He is a strong strategic thinker and team builder who enjoys turning problem companies into success stories and therefore has grown his business both organically and through acquisitions. Before taking on his role as CEO of General Vending and GameTime, Mike built several amusement and entertainment companies, then later sold them to move on to meet new challenges. His route operations firm, General Vending, has survived many economic challenges including 9/11 and has always come out on top. In 2010 he acquired GameWorks in both Miami and Tampa and re-branded it GameTime. The decision to venture into the world of FEC's has proven to be very successful over the years, so much that he then moved on to build four new centers in Fort Myers, Ocoee, Daytona, and Kissimmee and has two more projects currently underway in Clearwater, and Plantation, Florida. 

    Mike’s major areas of discipline include business development, business evaluation, negotiation, operating procedures, and management. He oversees the day to day operations of all GameTime locations as well as several other entertainment and amusement companies throughout Florida.  

    Felipe Arteaga

    Felipe Arteaga

    Vice President of Quality and Customer Experience, Happyland Latin America

    Luis Felipe Arteaga is a corporate project manager who works with Fantasilandia Group, helping the company to develop operational projects and policies that work in the different countries in which the company operates, with a special emphasis on standardization, embracing the different cultural realities. Felipe believes in the power of processes and procedures when they are conceived as instruments to help employees to do their jobs in a better way, giving them clear guidelines, tutorials and tools, and helping them to understand that what they do is an important contribution but it is also part of a much bigger machine. 

    With a background in finance for more than 3 years at the fixed income desk of an international bank in charge of operational cash flow, the experience of working in a stressful environment has helped him to carry out complex projects. Felipe recently landed a concurrent card system migration in 100 FEC locations in 4 countries over a very tight schedule of just 6 months. Having fallen in love with the entertainment industry, he is currently working on various Happyland corporate projects and is a member of the IAAPA FEC Committee. 

    Felipe is a certified bond market trader and holds a commerce degree in administration and economy from Andes University of Santiago Chile. 

    Teresa Cardenas

    Teresa Cardenas

    Corporate Department of Information Security Manager, Grupo Xcaret

    Teresa, with more than 8 years of experience in security, is responsible for analyzing and implementing security controls in applications, infrastructure security, cloud security, access control, security architecture reviews and cyber risks, including the development of policies and procedures aligned with the best practices in the market, as well as employee compliance and awareness. 

    Graduated from Computer Systems Engineering with a specialty in networks, since 2010, she has been passionate about Informatic Security, training and professionalizing herself in various topics such as Ethical Hacking, Forensic Expertise, Security Analyst, OWASP Application Security, among others.

    Leslie DaCruz

    Leslie DaCruz

    Founder and Principal, Stradiation

    Leslie has more than 30 years of experience leading teams to breakthrough results in areas of general management, new business initiatives, game-changing strategy, and marketing. He has held senior executive positions at The Walt Disney Company, PepsiCo, Hasbro, Laureate Education, USC and Mars and Co.  Leslie has built a career of stepping into new situations, quickly sizing up issues and opportunities, inventing new ways of doing things, and then executing on them.   As a result, he has launched numerous new ventures and built businesses, brought new products and services to market, and created/positioned brands in Fortune 100 companies; as well as worked with small companies and startups, in both for-profit and non-profit sectors.  As a senior executive with Disney, Leslie was hired at the inception of a new division where he was instrumental in creating a twenty-fold increase in revenues over a ten-year period, building retail revenue to more than $1 Billion per year. He has experience in consumer products and services, entertainment, and education. 

    Half of Leslie’s career has been in Europe and Latin America. He is Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, and proficient in French.  He is a graduate of the Wharton School and University of Pennsylvania.

    Linda A. Freeman

    Linda A. Freeman

    Entertainment Industry Manager and Cybersecurity Specialist, Rockwell Automation

    Linda is involved in attractions from design and startup to maintenance and retrofits. With a career focus on safety and security, she is an instructor and Board member for AIMS International, chairs a task group in ASTM F24, a member of IAAPA Global Security Committee and is a certified Functional Safety Engineer & Cyber Security Specialist by TUV Rheinland.

    Greg Hale

    Greg Hale

    Vice President Chief Safety Officer of Worldwide Safety & Health and Engineering, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Experiences and Products

    He leads a global team of ride design, operations, and maintenance professionals that keep Disney on the leading edge of theme park safety and technology advancements. Greg recently served as the 2017 Chairman of IAAPA. He has been an active volunteer with IAAPA for more than 18 years, including serving on the Government Relations, New Technology Awards, Nominating, and Strategic Planning committees. He is also a member of the IAAPA Safety committee and served as its Chairman from 2002 to 2012. Greg has been a speaker on industry safety‐related topics at IAAPA events around the world. He also plays a key leadership role in the association’s efforts to develop and harmonize industry safety standards around the globe, facilitating safety standards meetings in more than 23 countries throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. He has also been the Chairman of the ASTM International – F24 Subcommittee on Standards Harmonization since 2008. 

    Greg has contributed to numerous innovations and inventions that have advanced accessibility for persons with disabilities. Some of these include handheld captioning for the deaf and audio descriptions for the blind that for the first time provide captioning and audio descriptions on moving rides and attractions. In addition, he is a co‐inventor and patent holder for Disney’s FASTPASS®, eliminating long lines at Disney theme park rides and attractions. He holds over 75 U.S. and foreign patents.

    Matt Heller

    Matt Heller

    Founder, Performance Optimist Consulting

    Matt Heller founded Performance Optimist Consulting in 2011 with one simple goal: Help Leaders Lead. Matt now works with organizations large and small to help them improve leadership competencies, customer service, employee motivation and teamwork. As a speaker, workshop facilitator or coach, Matt has a developed a proven track record for being able to easily relate to those around him, giving them solid tools, they can use immediately. His engaging presentations not only captivate the learner’s attention, but also encourage them to get involved and participate. 

    Before becoming a professional speaker, Matt Heller spent 25 years in the amusement/theme park industry.  Starting as a ride operator at Canobie Lake Park just out of high school, Matt has enjoyed a robust career around the attractions industry with leadership positions at Canobie, Knott’s Camp Snoopy, Valleyfair and Smiles Entertainment Center.  Pulling from his previous leadership experience, in 2003 Matt joined Universal Orlando Resort as the Senior Trainer of Leadership Development.  Matt has also served on the IAAPA Education Committee, and from 2009-2012 was the Chair of the IAAPA Human Resources Committee.

    Shaun McKeogh

    Shaun McKeogh

    Founder and President, Attractions Academy

    Shaun is Founder and President of Attractions Academy. providing global attractions virtual and onsite training, organizational development, service excellence, leadership and performance improvement and operations consultancy for the attractions industry. Shaun is co-author of an industry leadership book ‘Reasons 2 Reward’ and author of numerous attractions industry features as well as keynote at global attraction industry conferences. Shaun is currently Chair for the IAAPA Asia Pacific Education Sub Committee and member of the IAAPA Global Education Committee, IAAPA Asia Pacific Advisory Committee and IAAPA Global Human Resources Committee. He also served as past Chair of the IAAPA Global Human Resources Committee.

    David McKillips

    David McKillips

    CEO, Chuck E. Cheese Entertainment

    David McKillips was named Chief Executive Officer CEC Entertainment in January 2020. David McKillips spent 13 years with the Six Flags Entertainment Company, most recently as President of the International Development for Six Flags, responsible for the operational management of all properties outside the United States including existing Parks in Mexico, Canada and development projects in Asia and Six Flags Qiddiya in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  

    Mr. McKillips had previously served as Senior Vice President, In-Park Service overseeing the Company’s Food & Beverage, Retail, Games and Procurement functions from January 2016 to January 2018.  In this position, McKillips led a team of more than 17,000 employees and grew the business $50M, launching several new F&B, retail and games initiatives and new concepts.   He also served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Alliances from September 2010 to January 2016. 

    Prior to joining Six Flags, Mr. McKillips served as Vice President Advertising & Custom Publishing Sales for DC Comics, a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. He started his career with Busch Entertainment, serving roles within the operations, entertainment, group sales and promotions departments at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida and then at Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, as Manager of Promotions. Mr. McKillips holds a B.A. degree in Communications from the University of Georgia.

    Kevin McNulty

    Kevin McNulty

    Co-founder and President, NetWeave Social Networking, USA

    Named Business of the Year by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and Associate Member of the Year by the Florida Attractions Association, NetWeave provides social media services for over 70 clients in attractions, hospitality, tourism, events, aviation, and a wide range of other from retail to government. 

    Kevin has been a guest lecturer for the University of South Florida, New College, St. Leo University, and State College of Florida. He has presented workshops and seminars for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the Florida Attractions Association, and the Florida Association of Museums. His eleven years in social media management and training give him a substantial foundation in relevant experience regarding the business uses of social media. 

    Kevin received his degree in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, served in the US Army, and worked for over 20 years in corporate training and communications before co-founding NetWeave in 2009.


    Jim Pattison Jr

    President, Ripley Entertainment

    Jim Pattison, Jr. has been with Ripley Entertainment Inc. since 1990.  He has held a variety of senior positions within the company, including Vice President New Business, Vice President Aquariums, and Executive Vice President Operations of Ripley attractions worldwide before he was named President in 2008.   He has a broad range of management experience in the amusement, attraction, aquarium, entertainment, and finance fields.

    RIPLEY ENTERTAINMENT owns, operates, and franchises more than 100 family attractions in 10 countries around the world. This 101-year-old company entertains 15 million guests annually.

    Paul Pei

    Paul Pei

    President, PARKAD LLC

    Paul has dedicated his entire professional career to tourism and hospitality. His career spans more than 45 years in Honolulu Hawaii, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He held senior management positions, specializing in sales and marketing with major hotel companies such as Westin and Shangri-La before serving as Executive Director, Sales, and Marketing for Ocean Park Hong Kong. During his 15-year tenure at Ocean Park between 2000 and 2015, annual attendance climbed steadily from 3 million to 7.6 million each year. Paul is a consistent contributor to IAAPA, on the board of directors, executive committees, IAAPA education programs, as a speaker on numerous tradeshows in the United States and Asia, and as a regular member of the IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers faculty. In November 2015, Paul Pei was honored with the IAAPA "Meritorious Service Award" in recognition of his service to and for the association in advancing IAAPA's mission. 

    In 2015, Paul moved to Seattle, Washington, and PARKAD LLC parameters with a focus on education. A prominent advocate of "talent development" throughout his career, he is eager to continue supporting the industry globally to help develop the managers and leaders of tomorrow, especially in sales and marketing.

    Event Questions

    North America

    Alyse Sklover
    Manager, Constituency Services and Programs
    +1 321/319-7661 | Send Message 

    Latin America and Caribbean

    Ana Elisa Benavent, CAE
    Events and Meetings
    +52 55 3300 5866 | Send Message


    Emily Popovich
    Director of Global Sponsorships
    +1 703 850 4115 | Send Message

    Ana Elisa Benavent, CAE
    Events and Meetings
    +52 55 3300 5866 | Send Message

    Sponsorship options for IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas are available. To inquire about becoming a sponsor, please contact Ana Elisa Benavent or fill in this PDF form and send to Ana Elisa.

    Thank you to our sponsor, Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.