Opening Ceremony Kicks Off IAAPA Expo
In anticipation of the show floor opening on Tuesday morning, the Opening Ceremony raised attendee excitement—and expectations—to new heights. “We can’t wait for you to see this year’s trade show floor, which features 1,080 exhibitors and another 218 first-timers,” shares Michael Shelton, vice president and executive director of IAAPA North America. “This year includes a robust conference program, which features 129 education sessions, seven EDUTours featuring Orlando attractions, and over 40 networking opportunities and special events.”
The ceremony also honored industry legends who were to receive IAAPA Hall of Fame awards. The lineup included Xavier López Ancona, president and founder of KidZania; Darrell Metzger, recognized for his roles as manager at Disneyland, the opening of Tokyo Disneyland, and his role as CEO at Ocean Park Hong Kong; Dennis Spiegel, a pioneer within the industry since the 1960s; and Joan Ganz Cooney, the Children’s Television Workshop’s first executive director and contributor to the team that first launched Sesame Street on PBS.
IAAPA President and CEO Hal McEvoy spoke following the allocation of awards, detailing the gratitude he feels for the resurgence of industry events following a difficult two years. “2022 has been a remarkable year for the global attractions industry, even though there have been challenges.” McEvoy then proceeded to welcome his successor, Jakob Wahl, who will take over as president and CEO upon his upcoming retirement.
The awards continued as Tokyo DisneySea was given the biannual Liseberg Applause Award, which Yumiko Takano, executive vice president of the Oriental Land Company, traveled from Japan to accept. “As we continue to strive to make it an even more wonderful place to visit, my hope is that many, many more people can experience the beauty and mystique of Tokyo DisneySea. We hope to see everybody in Japan,” said Takano in her acceptance speech.
2022 IAAPA Chairman of the Board Ken Whiting then took the stage to offer some encouraging words to the audience, echoing McEvoy’s prior sentiments about the joys of being forward focused in the wake of two difficult years for the global attractions industry.
The ceremony concluded with a bang as the incoming 2023 IAAPA Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Ripley Entertainment Jim Pattison, took the stage. He brought out the world’s tallest living man—Sultan Kösen, who hails from Turkey—to say hello to the audience. He then instructed everyone to wield an object brought to their seats. These mysterious items were revealed to be streamer cannons, granting everyone in the room an opportunity to break a Guinness World Record of the most people launching confetti cannons simultaneously—establishing a new achievement and signaling the official start of IAAPA Expo 2022.