IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 Recap - From the Floor
accesso and Village Roadshow Theme Parks Announce Partnership
accesso and Village Roadshow Theme Parks announced a unique partnership at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018.
“This marks the first holistic integration of our queuing, ticketing, and experience marketing solutions tailored to the attractions industry,” said Paul Noland, CEO of accesso.
Through this new partnership, accesso will bring its technology to Village Roadshow Theme Parks’ Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast, and Sea World in Gold Coast, Australia, next year.
By integrating accesso Passport, accesso LoQueue, and The Experience Engine across three properties, Village Roadshow Theme Parks—one of Australia’s largest theme park operators—will engage with guests at every potential touchpoint and gather critical data each step of the way, Noland said.
“This will allow for seamless mobile ticketing and ecommerce experiences, purchasing capability for retail and meals, and real-time personalized communication,” he said.
Interaction on the Go
Being showcased in the United States for the first time, Alterface’s new NOMAD technology miniaturizes and untethers interactive gaming experiences. The “New Optimized Mobile Action Device” is lightweight and compact. It is also self-powered and wireless, so it can fit into virtually any shape.
“This is the first building block of a new generation of devices that allows you to gamify the whole park,” explained Alterface Founder and CEO Benoit Cornet. “It looks the same, but the philosophy is entirely different. Currently, when you want to interact with something, you need to be attached to something. This gives you the freedom. You go wherever you want.”
Based on Alterface’s patented camera-based detection technology, NOMAD can be used by hundreds of visitors simultaneously. The “shooting” devices can also be used to circle, point, and take other actions, all with “millimetric precision” at distances up to 50 meters. Each device stores the information and scores of the user.
NOMAD technology can be integrated into existing rides, as well as new ones. It can be deployed on coasters, in water parks, on rapid rivers, in walk-through exhibits, and can interact with both physical and projected environments. Maintenance is also expected to be easier, as the devices are not attached to a ride cart or other device.
Arihant Unveils Two New Water Park Attractions
With projects in 56 countries, Mumbai-based Arihant Water Park Equipment unveiled two new water park attractions available to the North American market.
The Treasure Ship is an interactive water-play structure with nine slides. It can be sized up or down, but Arihant prefers the 100- by 100-foot size, which can hold more than 300 people on the deck at one time. Junior slides have no height requirements, and others are thrill slides for older kids and adults. The Treasure Ship’s immersive theming experience includes 66 water-play features, including squirt guns, cannons, tipping buckets—one is a treasure chest—and a walk-the-plank slide with a drop. Company officials believe the theme will fit into a resort setting and be well-placed in a water park.
The Bay Series is an extended water slide with a 90-degree turn that can be themed as a jungle, Grand Canyon, or a tropical lagoon.
“We made our ride to be able to last up to 25 seconds,” said Jim DeBerry, senior manager, North America for Arihant, while launching a marble into a model to demonstrate nine different spins throughout the ride. The theming also includes water curtains and light-display shows “for a fantastic family ride,” DeBerry added.
VIRO Dome’s Modern Cabanas
Backyard X-Scapes introduced the ultra-stylish, customizable, weather-resistant VIRO Dome.
A couple years ago, Backyard X-Scapes expanded from residential outdoor design to zoos and theme parks with a lot of palapas and tropical-themed decor, explained managing partner Ross Bloom.
The company sees this product being relevant at both a tropical resort and concessions and amusements, said Bloom. One use is as a guest shelter, like a cabana—“but an alternative to the palapa-looking structure,” he said. “We also see it from an amusement side, using the VIRO Dome as a more interesting cover for concessions and resort features.” For instance: hair braiding, massage, or merchandise.
The VIRO Pod can be a temporary or permanent structure and is made with 100 percent-recyclable high-density polyethylene (HDP) that is mold and mildew resistant. Both the weave and the color are customizable.
BMI Merchandise Further Refines its Automated Redemption Service
“It’s one thing to sell merchandise and another thing to be able to provide our customer a really smart way to manage their inventory,” said BMI Merchandise Owner David Katz, who has been in the industry for 36 years.
Ten years ago, BMI created 360° Redemption Solutions, a full-service program for customers helping them plan locations, select appropriate merchandise by price point, tap into trends and branded merchandise, and rely on weekly shipments that keep the merchandise fresh and players coming back for more.
Monopoly: Fortnite Edition, Pop! Harry Potter vinyl figures, and LOL makeup kits are some of the on-trend, branded items BMI Merchandise focuses on providing its customers.
“It’s easy to pick an item one time and put it out for redemption,” Katz said, “but then try to get your hands on it again. It’s a pain point for people to order a lot of merchandise, keep it stocked, and keep the displays exciting. We take that pain point away.”
Once customers give BMI access to their point-of-sale system, it reviews usage and runs analytics to generate reorders. The only thing the customers need to do is complete a physical inventory once per month.
“We have the ability to barcode and label at infinite point values relevant to the needs of our customers, wherever they are around the United States or the world.”
Brand Vending Leaps Forward with AR Tattoos
One-dimensional temporary tattoos just became 3D animated characters.
Brand Vending Products is selling a new kind of temporary tattoo that when scanned with a smartphone, shows the character on the tattoo come alive on camera.
“We invented the [temporary] tattoo machine more than 15 years ago, and we’re bringing tattoos back with a fervor,” said Scott Jochim, CEO of Brand Vending Products.
Turtles, dinosaurs, unicorns, and a host of other creatures seemingly leap from the tattoo application and begin walking or jumping with the help of augmented reality (AR).
“Once you scan the tattoo with our free app, they appear to come off your skin and come to life,” Jochim said. “Users can take photos and post on social media the AR on their own body.”
The animations are responsive. When a frog tattoo sits on a user’s wrist, it looks at the camera and blinks. When the wrist is pulled out of view of the smartphone, the frog jumps away, only to jump back when the flat tattoo is again recognized by the app. At one point, the frog starts to walk around.
“We’ve given people a new way to tattoo their body—temporarily. We’ve all made some mistakes. At least temporary tattoos will not be one of them!” joked Jochim.
Legoland Teams Up with Brogent Technologies
The blockbuster movie that inspired a new theme park land is coming full circle.
The characters of “The Lego Movie” are heading to Legoland Florida Resort in the first installation of Brogent Technologies’ m-Ride Flying Theater, where they will star in a new cinema ride experience.
The new “Lego Movie Masters of Flight” will be a flying theater attraction with a twist.
“When the guests board the ride, they don’t know what to expect,” said Brogent Technologies’ Sales Director Tim Chan.
Riders will board what appears to be “triple-decker couch,” before the sofa turns 180 degrees, revealing a full-dome theater stretching 60 feet wide.
“Every seat in the house is going to be a good one,” said Brittany Williams with Legoland Florida Resort.
During “Lego Movie Masters of Flight,” passengers will feel the sensation of flying through a world created from Lego bricks.
“The ride system is capable of four degrees of freedom,” said Chan. Vehicles will pitch, surge, heave, and sway. “It’s very agile and works well with the film. We’re very pleased.”
The five-minute ride will include special effects such as wind, mist, and even the smell of cotton candy.
“Lego Movie Masters of Flight” is currently under construction at the 150-acre theme park in Winter Haven, Florida, with a planned spring 2019 opening.
Brunswick’s New Spin
Bowling is booming.
Brunswick’s research shows 110 million people in 150 countries head to the lanes each year.
One reason for the renaissance: posh new environments where architecture tells a story and lanes take up less space.
“We’re providing a better concept that is giving back more real estate to the customer,” said John Roush, Brunswick’s North American sales vice president.
Reinvented for the next generation, Brunswick’s new Epicenter package allows hotels and family entertainment centers to install bowling lanes in a minimal footprint. A traditional lane stretches 86 feet long, while an Epicenter lane is only 70 feet.
“We found the casual bowler doesn’t have the same concerns that a league bowler would using a lane that’s shorter,” Roush said.
Full-size balls and pins are still in use, along with less equipment needed behind the scenes. Epicenter uses a “StringPin” pinsetter, where the pins are connected to an overhead grid via a rope that resets the pins quickly and with fewer moving parts. Brunswick said the advancements in maintenance are driving value for owners, while new finishes on bowling lanes are proving attractive to guests. New floor surfaces and custom graphics can be tailored to a venue’s brand. Meanwhile, the company’s new Center Stage Furniture provides attractive seats and tables, complete with USB power outlets to keep guests playing—and ordering food and beverage products—longer.
Christie’s latest projector—the lightweight, compact Christie Mirage SST—is expected to provide greater flexibility to the designers of dark rides and other exhibits.
“It is one of the lightest projector heads available,” exclaimed Christie’s Deborah Noon.
“Sometimes the size of a projector becomes a challenge, particularly when you have to mount several projectors,” added Christie Senior Product Manager Joel St-Denis.
But this 40,000 lumen RGB solid-state technology projector has a separate laser rack and a remote head, which means it has a smaller footprint. The light source can be up to 10 meters away, reducing the space needed for installation. It also creates a quieter environment, as the cooling fans are up to 10 meters away as well.
Launched on the floor of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018, the Christie Mirage SST is slated for release in the first quarter of the year. It is being targeted for use in dome theaters, museums, planetariums, sports venues, theme parks, and any place with a giant screen.
Compagnie des Alpes and Intamin Partner on 2021 Roller Coasters
Compagnie des Alpes announced it enlisted Intamin to build not one, but two roller coasters for 2021. Both Parc Astérix near Paris and Walibi Belgium in Wavre, Belgium, will become homes to two custom-designed scream machines.
“The objective we have for these parks is to make them a leader in Europe, delivering a high level of satisfaction for our guests,” said Francois Fassier, director of operations for Compagnie des Alpes’ theme parks.
Parc Astérix will welcome a new forward and backward launching coaster using linear induction motors (LIM) that will pack in 30 different elements along 1,075 meters of track. The yet-to-be-named coaster will stand 51 meters tall and travel at 107 km per hour. Parc Astérix said the ride will feature 23 moments of airtime and a new “anticipation stall,” allowing for a unique cliff-hanging experience with a drop sporting a 101-degree angle.
Walibi Belgium will also see a new Intamin mega coaster in 2021. Walibi Belgium said at 50 meters tall, the new coaster will be the tallest in France and the Benelux region. The first drop will include an 80-degree twist, before the 1,200 meters of track lead to a “wall stall” element and a side-banked double down element.
Dynamic Attractions Partners with Chance Rides, Debuts New Coaster Concept
Two giant names in the attractions industry announced a strategic partnership. Chance Rides, a manufacturer of amusement rides, and Dynamic Attractions, an engineering firm, will come together in the spirit of innovation and expanded manufacturing capacity.
“By working with the legendary Chance Rides, we’re able to offer theme parks faster build times while maintaining our high standards in build quality,” said Dynamic Attractions CEO Guy Nelson.
Both companies will maintain their established names and respective offices. The partnership will allow Dynamic Attractions to design and engineer new rides, while leveraging Chance Rides’ full in-house manufacturing capabilities.
“Dynamic Attractions constantly wins innovation awards for a good reason—they can see the invisible and do the impossible,” said Dick Chance, CEO of Chance Rides.
In addition, Dynamic Attractions announced a new roller coaster system capable of performing “spinouts” and other maneuvers similar to an off-road vehicle. The “Dual Power Coaster” will use new vehicles allowing for four degrees of freedom—forward, roll side to side, change heading, and heave up and down—all while moving along roller coaster track. The first Dual Power Coaster is set to open in spring 2019 in Malaysia.
Extreme Engineering Advances Cloud Coaster Cart
Extreme Engineering unveiled its all-new roller coaster cart, an advancement of the engineering and design of its Cloud Coaster.
“The new cart features an overhead lap bar restraint and fits the criteria of a Class-1 coaster seat, but we’re applying it to a much simpler application,” said Matt Rehnstrom, vice president of sales. “All of your connection points and interfaces between the guest and the employee are very hands-off,” which removes any uncomfortable contact that is often required to ensure safety.
The company has carried through the advancements in the cart design to the trolley and hard-seat components.
Extreme Engineering employs its magnetic brake system (MBS) technology and zero friction for complete control of the ride. “We can slow it down if you have a VR application or speed it up for a thrill ride, making it totally versatile,” said Rehnstrom.
Extreme Engineering also announced 12 new products this year; a few are variations on climbing walls. “The GeoWall has more of a European feel to it—really popular and eye-catching,” said Rehnstrom. “We’ve also added ‘Ninja Warrior’ elements, taking climbing walls and making them into full-fledged attractions, with no staffing.”
Falcon’s Creative Group to Create PBS Attractions
American public broadcaster PBS is making its first foray into the branded attractions space. PBS is creating location-based experiences, designed by Falcon’s Creative Group. The attractions will feature hands-on exploration with theming based on topics that PBS and PBS Kids are famous for, including the arts, nature, science, and technology.
“This incredible collaboration opens the door to virtually limitless educational prospects, each more exciting and meaningful than the last,” said Falcon’s Creative President and Chief Creative Officer Cecil D. Magpuri, upon announcing the partnership at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018. “We are honored to work alongside PBS toward the future of educational destinations.”
Magpuri noted that global demand for location-based experiences is growing and that the PBS experiences will “be local creative hubs for new generations to grow and explore the curiosities of the world.”
“We are excited to explore the possibilities with Falcon’s and to invent new paradigms of engagement with PBS,” said PBS Vice President for Brand Licensing Dawn Ciccone, adding the partnership will create new ways for families to interact with PBS. “Extending our brand into the location-based entertainment space offers new possibilities for connecting with our audience.”
The Curtain Rises Again
For the first time since the curtain fell 18 months ago on the last performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, one of America’s most iconic brands is back on the market.
Feld Entertainment, which owns the intellectual property to “The Greatest Show on Earth,” is now pursuing partnerships to license it to attractions. Possibilities include daredevil rides, live performances, themed lands that transport guest back in time to an earlier Ringling Bros. era, or even museum exhibits featuring some of the circus’ 12,000 costumes.
“I think Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ingrained in Americana,” said Feld Entertainment Public Relations Manager Sallie Palmieri. “It still has a 98 percent brand recognition. Watching people’s reactions to this circus wagon has been amazing. Everybody is coming up and sharing their circus stories and telling us how sad they were when the show stopped touring.”
The company is a leader in live family entertainment, with several other recognizable brands. Feld produces “Disney on Ice,” “Sesame Street Live,” and the new “Jurassic World Live” coming next year, among other shows.
Tower Mirror Booth is Bold, Interactive, and Fun
It’s a mirror… no, it’s a responsive touchscreen drawing surface, wait… it’s an animated video urging attendees to try “the Floss.” Foto Master Ltd. introduced its Tower Mirror Booth, a modern take on a photo booth, to Expo attendees.
The 87-inch-tall mirror is distinguished by both its size and special design. Hidden inside the mirror rest hardware, strobe flashes, and a professional-grade DSLR camera that together transform an otherwise static mirror into an interactive, revenue-generating, memory-making device.
Foto Master Co-Founder and CEO Boaz Telem explained how the software accommodates both photos and videos, including a green screen.
“Users can interact with their photo, cropping it, drawing on it with vivid colors, and adding virtual props,” he said. When done, they can view their finished creation and choose to print, e-mail, or text it.
“The system is integrated with a cashless system so you can monetize in any configuration that fits your needs.”
Outside of attractions and family entertainment centers, large event rental companies are among the buyers.
40 Below Joe Brews Quick-Frozen Caffeine Treat
Created by the inventor and founder of Dippin’ Dots, 40 Below Joe offers a fresh approach to the ubiquitous drink. “Now, you can eat your coffee,” said Shantez Riley, sales manager for the company.
40 Below Joe brews Brazilian and Guatemalan arabica beans and cryogenically freezes the coffee into little beads using liquid nitrogen at -320 degrees Fahrenheit. This method leaves the original moisture content intact unlike freeze-drying.
A four-ounce cup of the house blend is equivalent to three shots of espresso, and the varieties mixed with non-dairy creamer beads still pack a jolt, each equal to one shot of espresso. 40 Below Joe comes in seasonal pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha flavors, as well as vanilla, hazelnut, mocha, salted caramel, and top-seller French vanilla blends.
“It’s great for the people who grew up on Dippin’ Dots and are now coffee drinkers,” said Riley, adding 40 Below Joe isn’t affiliated with Dippin’ Dots, but it uses the same technology.
Frazil Adds Color and Flavor to Beverage Market
Fresh flavor profiles that appeal to adult palates are the main reason people say they like Frazil, a frozen slushie drink, said CEO Kyle Freebairn. “We make Frazil with 100-percent natural sugar,” he added. “As a result, the flavor tastes awesome.”
The Salt Lake City-based company has “gone for premium taste profiles,” explained Freebairn, “making that a core competency of our business.” Standouts include its No. 1 seller, Tiger’s Blood, a combo that is predominantly strawberry with a minor taste of coconut. “Every flavor has a major and minor taste profile,” he explained, while dishing up another sample, Smashberry, which tastes first of cranberry with a hint of pineapple.
Frazil is currently in 10,000 convenience stores but debuted at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018—its first foray into the attractions industry.
Frazil provides a bundle program, including all equipment, maintenance, service, parts, etc. “It helps people get into the category,” said Freebairn, “and making money from day one.”
The Double Bubble is a uniquely designed and transparent promotional cup that can include barcode options for refills.
Frontgrid and Simworx Drop Expo Attendees into a Mountain Scene
From the trade show floor to 3,000 feet in the sky, visitors to Simworx’s booth had a chance to paraglide above lush greenery, flowing streams, and snow-covered mountains by getting strapped into a seated harness and putting on a virtual reality (VR) headset. Developed through a collaboration between Frontgrid and Simworx, ParadropVR offers an immersive ride experience that is totally controlled by the user, allowing them to fly toward colored rings in the sky to collect points that tally up on a spectator display screen and mobile application’s scoreboard.
“It’s very much like flying a canopy,” said Frontgrid Co-Founder and CEO Matt Wells, a former British army paratrooper. “You’re pulling left and right, and as you release up, you go down. As you pull down, you go up. It sounds a little bit counter intuitive, but it’s all very easy to understand when you fly.”
Adding to the sensation of flying, air blows onto riders’ faces, which increases depending on whether they pull right or left.
ParadropVR launched in September 2017 and has since had installations in Denmark and the United Kingdom. The VR attraction will soon expand to Dubai, India, Malaysia, and Thailand.
“The thing that I really believe in is trying to develop rides where the individual has the opportunity to go where they want to go and have their own experience,” Wells said.
Two additional virtual scenes in urban and safari environments are in development for a debut in 2019.
Saudi GEA Emphasizes the Strengths of Tourism Investments in Saudi Arabia
At its press conference, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) of Saudi Arabia heralded the benefits of investing in the tourism industry of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Amr Banaja, CEO of the GEA, noted that Saudi Arabia, with 32 million people, currently has 11 million more residents than the state of Florida but lacks the U.S. state’s thriving tourism industry.
“But 50 percent of the population is under the age of 30,” he said, “and when they travel abroad, they spend $6 billion on entertainment outside of Saudi Arabia.” He said the size of this demographic group and its eagerness to spend money gives the country strong potential for those investing in its domestic tourism industry.
Bill Ernest was recently named CEO of Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN), bringing with him 25 years of experience as a senior executive with The Walt Disney Company. Ernest said SEVEN is soon going to begin construction of entertainment “clusters” around Saudi Arabia that offer 50,000 square meters each of entertainment space. He said each cluster will take on its own identity and be unique.
SEVEN is also creating family entertainment centers, theme parks, and cinemas, and Ernest revealed, “The first new cinema in Saudi Arabia since 1970 has already opened, and there are more to come. I am very excited about what is happening there.”
Gilderfluke & Co. Presents Entertainment Electronics
Coming upon 36 of years of business, Gilderfluke & Co., based in Burbank, California, designs and manufactures entertainment electronics, including animation control systems and digital audio playback systems used by amusement and theme parks, attractions, miniature golf courses, museums, and water parks around the world.
“All of our products are small and modular, so you can build a system of any size, control, anything you want, whether it’s a fountain, fireworks, or animatronics,” said Douglas Mobley, founder, president, and CEO of Gilderfluke & Co. “We build them as good as we can, not as cheap as we can.”
Known for bringing the entertaining Eli Mule to IAAPA Attractions Expo year after year, Gilderfluke & Co. showed off its newest addition for 2018, touch panels for show control systems.
“Generally, when you have a touch panel, you have to write a lot of code to make it work,” Mobley said. “In this case, they talk to our different controllers. Once you’ve got your shows all done, they talk to the controller and automatically configure themselves.”
The Gravity Group’s ‘Kentucky Flyer’ Coaster Set to Ride in 2019
To celebrate Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay’s 30th anniversary, the park announced new roller coaster “Kentucky Flyer” will debut on opening day in 2019.
“Kentucky Flyer,” designed by The Gravity Group, will climb 47 feet high with a first drop of 44 feet. With a track length of 1,288 feet, it will hit a maximum speed of 35 mph, feature 12 moments of airtime, and navigate through 56-degree hairpin turns.
“We wanted to create something the entire family could enjoy together,” said Korey Kiepert, principal with The Gravity Group, noting a 40-inch minimum rider height. “So often we go to amusement parks, and there are rides for big kids or little kids. But where are those rides that moms and dads can ride right along with kids and enjoy, or something that teenagers want to ride over and over again with their 4-year-old brother? That’s the goal here with the ‘Kentucky Flyer.’”
Gaylee Gillim, general counsel for Kentucky Kingdom, said she can’t wait for the family thrill ride to open. “We hope that it’s a lot of kids’ first roller coaster.”
It’s Game On with Great American Recreation’s Five New Tables
Great American Recreation Equipment didn’t just show up at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 with its five newest game tables; it brought along a world champion, too. Attendees lined up to play billiards on the company’s new Black Beauty against world champion Vivian Villarreal, aka “The Texas Tornado.”
Black Beauty is the reimagined version of the company’s electronic pool table, the Black Diamond. Black Beauty is covered in black Simonis cloth. The body is wrapped in a leather-looking laminate and attention-getting red LED light strips.
“It’s the first time I played on black cloth, and I had a lot of fun,” said Villarreal, who especially enjoyed playing with the kids. Her Tornado Foundation in Las Vegas mentors youth who are interested in the game.
Another Expo attention-getter was the outdoor shuffleboard table. The body is marine-grade PVC plastic, the playfield is coated in outdoor epoxy, and the gutters are indoor-outdoor carpet.
Black Ice is the redesigned air-hockey table, as well as the namesake of its black-and-white theming. LED lights replace the overhead fluorescents and have been added around the inside rail to make the play top better lit and more exciting.
Holovis and WhiteWater Announce Strategic Partnership
Technology company Holovis and attraction-maker WhiteWater announced a new strategic partnership. Holovis started exploring how to enter the growing water park market earlier this year, while WhiteWater said it’s been looking for a technology partner.
“This is a very significant step for us. Our plans for taking water-based experiences to the next level are developing rapidly, so we sought to bring on board a company that could keep up with our innovation roadmap,” said Geoff Chutter, president and CEO of WhiteWater.
The two companies plan to bring new products to market in the next year by offering turnkey products.
“We are thrilled to have secured WhiteWater as an exclusive partner. Being in water is already an immersive experience,” said Stuart Hetherington, CEO of Holovis. “With Holovis and WhiteWater working together, that definition is going to be stretched and intensified in ways guests will hardly believe.”
Bouncing Around with Ideas Extremas
At the heart of Ideas Extremas’ mission is the need to get kids active, which is why the 21-year-old, Mexico-based company created its newest attraction, VR Trampoline, integrating technology with exercise.
VR Trampoline is housed in a four-walled structure equipped with motion sensors, a surround sound speaker system, and three projectors that create a 180-degree experience. Users start the game by standing in a square and raising their arms. The sensors detect the user and continue detecting all movements throughout gameplay, which include jumping on the trampoline, holding onto a hanging rope, and touching special icons on the side screens to accumulate points.
“With the movement of your arm, you’re firing lasers at aliens,” said Francis Fuller, who oversees sales in the United States. “Two minutes in there is a good workout, and the kids really love this. They’re not having to hook up to anything. They feel free. Even if they’re tired, they still want to stay in there and play another game.”
Only one user can play at a time, with 25 total users per hour. VR Trampoline offers three different games—two are jungle themed and one is space themed—and Ideas Extremas is currently working on sports concepts.
The Big Stinka Jumper Makes its Debut at Expo
Stacy Gray, co-owner of i2k Inflatables, hoped her No. 2-inspired jumper would become a No. 1 seller at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018. Debuting this year, the 18-foot-tall poop emoji inflatable, Big Stinka, fits five or six kids, who crawl through the mouth to enter. A slightly smaller version, Lil’ Stinka, is available, as well. The blower resembles a toilet paper roll for an added touch.
i2k showcased several other new products this year, including two Ninja Warrior Obstacle Courses; the Treetop bounce, climb, and slide combo that features a crawl-through tube; Bobbing for Apples, where two people harnessed to a bungee cord race each other to the center to grab as many apples as possible; and Slacker’s Island—a slackline inflatable, which tests a person’s ability to walk across a suspended line of flat webbing tensioned between two anchors.
Kart 1 Accelerates with All-Electric Go-Karts
Kart 1, which is the exclusive worldwide distributor of OTL Italia Electric Karts, displayed not only several different models of electric go-karts it distributes, but also the intriguing Aqua Kart. This watercraft won second place in the 2018 IAAPA Brass Ring Awards for Best New Product—Water Park Ride/Attraction under $2 million. Kart 1 distributes to more than 150 locations worldwide.
Its signature product is the Storm EFD, boasting a top speed of 45 mph and possessing outstanding acceleration. It features a “boost” button drivers can press when wanting to pass another kart, reverse and emergency stop buttons, paddle shifters, and a touchscreen display.
Kart 1 is marketing the Aqua Kart as the world’s first go-kart on water. Reminiscent of a personal watercraft, it features a 60-horsepower engine that can take the craft to 40 mph and can be fitted with a 90-horsepower engine that carries it to 60 mph. Maxx Graver, business development manager for Aqua Kart, said, “It’s the first go-kart on water, and it’s a completely new experience versus a Jet Ski. Unlike a Jet Ski, it is acceleration by foot with a gas pedal, is controlled by a steering wheel, and has a race-style bucket seat.”
Kennywood and S&S Worldwide Unveil ‘Steel Curtain’ Ride Vehicle
Kennywood Park, located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, and S&S Worldwide Inc. unveiled the new ride vehicle for the park’s highly anticipated “Steel Curtain” roller coaster, opening in 2019. The ride’s name and colors are dedicated to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team in the U.S.-based National Football League.
Jerome Gibas, general manager of Kennywood Park, and Rolf Paegert, chief operating officer of Palace Entertainment, which owns the park, were also on hand for the unveiling. The steel coaster will be located in the new Steelers Country area of Kennywood.
“Kennywood Park is an historic landmark that maintains historic attractions but is also innovative. It will be the first theme park to have a professional sports team-themed area,” Paegert said.
Pete Barto, director of sales for S&S Worldwide, said, “We’re extremely excited about this vehicle. The number 33 on the front of the car pays homage to the year the Steelers franchise was founded, 1933. The coaster has a number of exciting elements, is 220 feet tall, and has nine inversions and nine elements.”
The vehicle seats two riders side-by-side in two rows. Its black and gold colors match those of the ride’s track and are the signature colors of the Steelers uniforms. The coaster will speed along 4,000 feet of track at up to 75 mph.
‘Where’s My Kid?’ There’s an App for That
Getting lost just may be a thing of the past. Luboo is a rentable, wearable, GPS-tracking wristband device designed to solve the problem of parents worrying about little ones wandering off at venues and events. The wristbands are durable, waterproof, and reusable. They are also still in development.
Australian co-founder Gabby Stein introduced Luboo inside Exploration Station at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018, where she said the company is focused on the U.S. market and aims to pilot the program by late 2019 and be fully operational by 2020.
Stein said Luboo will emphasize that users should download the app and set up an account before visiting an attraction. After picking up the number of bands they’ll need at the venue, the user scans the QR code of each band and assigns it to a wearer, then adds each child to the account by name, age, and gender. By pressing “search,” the real-time location of each band-wearer appears on the map. The user can view all or select just one.
Luboo uses the site-specific map so parents can find their child using the venue’s landmarks. “We will use predictive routing to give instructions for the fastest way to go directly to the child,” said Stein.
Other adults can also be invited to “join the group” so anyone with a smartphone can track band-wearing users.
Madame Tussauds Orlando Reveals Jason Momoa’s Aquaman
Expo attendees got a sneak peek of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman wax figure at the booth for Daniels Wood Land, which built and developed the sets for the Madame Tussauds “Justice League: A Call for Heroes” exhibit. The interactive character recently debuted at Madame Tussauds Orlando and Madame Tussauds Sydney ahead of the Dec. 21 premiere of the “Aquaman” movie.
Designed in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products on behalf of DC Entertainment, the figure meticulously captures the latest iteration of the classic comic book character.
“This is exactly the same costume that’s in the movie,” said James Paulding, Madame Tussauds Orlando general manager. “It’s really, really impressive.”
Part of a shift within the Madame Tussauds brand, the Justice League experience features special effects that include a series of hands-on, interactive missions and a set where guests can become the stars of their favorite stories.
“We’re not just a static attraction,” Paulding said. “By grabbing the trident, guests will be able to summon forces to battle evil and help defeat Lex Luthor.”
Magic Money Makes Cashless an Option for All
Magic Money is a cashless system developed for smaller attractions and family entertainment centers that can be utilized at an affordable price. The company began developing the technology in 2016, brought it to market in 2017, and now has 100 customers.
Magic Money presented three payment forms: a preloaded paper card, a kiosk-dispensed plastic card with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip that is attached to the customer’s credit or debit card, and a plastic wristband with usability similar to that of the plastic card.
All three methods significantly reduce the transaction time because they are simply scanned by a hand-held point-of-sale device, and the value of the transaction is instantly deducted from the balance. The reloadable card and wristband work very much like popular consumer brands’ apps, with options for auto reload and accrual of loyalty points.
“We are turning event ticketing into a profit center instead of a cost center by charging a small service fee to the buyer when they first get their Magic Money card,” said CEO Michael Augins.
‘Chaos Jump’ Plays the Role of Unique Multiplayer VR Game
At a time when new virtual reality (VR) attractions are flooding the market, Minority Media is convinced it truly has a distinctive experience in its new VR product, “Chaos Jump.” The multiplayer arcade game has a digital platform allowing it to utilize the company’s planned updates. Minority Media also treated IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 attendees to a sneak preview of its upcoming game, “Reclaim!,” set to launch in the first quarter of 2019.
“It’s all about the experience, not the technology. Instead, the machine really reflects the environment you’re entering,” said Minority Media’s Chief Business Development Officer Sylvain Croteau. “It’s also half the size of our competition’s [products]. We’ve already sold 26 of them, with seven currently installed.”
The game has a footprint of 12 feet by 12 feet, which the company said is the industry’s smallest for a four-player VR arcade machine, but generates up to 12 times the revenue of other location-based games. In “Chaos Jump,” players battle a robot army determined to prevent them from traveling across space and time to retrieve gold, treasure, and artifacts from 18 exotic worlds. Adventurers are equipped with laser blasters to fight off the attackers and vacuum guns to collect all of the gold and artifacts.
Glassy Waterslides and Galactic Cruisers
Following five years of research, Polin Waterparks has developed a fully transparent fiberglass composite that is a quarter the cost of acrylic.
The material is “strong, light, and easily maintained” explained Sohret Pakis, the company’s director of marketing and communications. “Soon, we’ll be seeing totally transparent water slides in parks for the first time!”
Pakis said she sees applications for the composite material, which is also stronger than acrylic, in aquariums and architecture, as well.
Polin also launched a new brightly colored themed water slide called Stardust, which is described as a galactic cruiser that has crash-landed on Earth.
After making several turns, four-person rafts are dumped into the side of a bowl, which means that each raft enters at a different angle. This “multipoint entrance” to the drop section is described by Polin as “a significant groundbreaking engineering accomplishment.”
Stardust is 24 meters tall, 210 meters long, and has a capacity of 300 riders per hour. Rafts hit a maximum speed of 9.5 meters per second. The theming can be customized. Special effects like lasers, fog, and illumination with LEDs can also be included.
RoboLabs Turns Cotton Candy Making into Performance Art
Expo attendees stood in lines several people deep to attentively watch as wisps of pink cotton candy gently floated in the air and danced around a stick-holding RoboLabs staff member.
“It’s performance art,” said Marina Chazova, RoboLabs export manager. “It grabs people’s attention.”
The company’s RoboJetFloss uses a 3,600-revolutions-per-minute spinning head combined with a powerful updraft fan impeller to allow cones to be built midair. The machine makes three or four standard servings a minute and only takes minimal practice to master, she said. For a true show, servings can reach up to 6 feet in diameter.
“It literally stops people in their tracks—even if they aren’t interested in cotton candy,” said Stephen Canale, United States distributor. “Some operators will use it as a storefront attraction just to bring people in.”
Even though the machine takes standard cotton candy mix, it tastes different from the traditional treat because it’s being lifted into the air and then spooled onto the stick.
“Instead of getting a dense, packed, super-sweet flavor, it’s light and fluffy,” said Canale, comparing it to the difference between fudge and mousse.
Sally Corporation, PortAventura World, and Sesame Workshop Announce Europe’s First Sesame Street Dark Ride
Together with PortAventura World and Sesame Workshop, Sally Corporation announced the first-ever Sesame Street dark ride in Europe and the first dark ride at the Spanish park. The attraction will open in 2019 in SesamoAventura, a dedicated Sesame Street area of the park featuring characters from the venerable children’s brand.
“We continue our policy of constant innovation, and 2019 will be a special year with the first Sesame Street dark ride in PortAventura,” said Fernando Aldecoa, the park’s general director. John Wood, chairman and CEO of Sally Corp., added, “It’s an honor to be working on a ride of this magnitude. We packed a six-minute attraction with a 10-minute [preshow] into a 14,000-square-foot building.”
The ride will feature eight projection screens, including four projection-mapped screens on dimensional sets with practical target integration, one 90-degree curved screen with animatronic and show-element syncing, and two 180-degree curved and immersive screens that allow guests to fly through Count’s castle and dive down into Oscar’s trash can. There will also be a Hall of Fame scoreboard displaying riders’ scores.
Sansei Technologies Debuts Ridable Robot
Robots were on the move—literally—at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018. Sansei Technologies featured a robot it’s billing as the world’s first ridable car that transforms into a robot.
“We are proud to introduce an innovative, game-changing product,” declared Sansei Technologies General Manager Quin Checketts. “For the first time ever, riders can experience the thrill of climbing into a sleek, high-tech vehicle, then be raised into the air as the robot transforms into a 3.7-meter-tall, bipedal, humanoid robot.”
Developed over five years in collaboration with Asratec and Brave Robotics, J-Deite Ride weighs nearly 1.7 tons, runs on lithium batteries, and has 49 axes of motion. As a car, J-Deite can travel 37 mph. As a robot, it can glide at half that speed or raise its giant feet and walk. The cockpit seats two riders, where it can be controlled from the cockpit or remotely via a wired or wireless connection.
Sansei Technologies expects attractions to adapt the J-Deite transformer for a variety of functions. It can be a “transforming go-kart” ride, serve as an iconic park-greeter and parade icon, or be adapted for use in a dark ride.
Riding that Surfboard in the Sky
Skysurfer made its debut at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 and turned some heads.
Skysurfer started as a concept called MotoZip, whose design was pretty archaic, explained director Jared Story. Then Kevin Smith got a hold of it.
The 15-year veteran zipline designer from Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, bought the patent and applied new theming to transform a basic aluminum platform into a surfboard that guests ride through the sky at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. Riders aren’t actually balanced on the board but are harnessed to the overhead cable and stand on the board for a new twist.
Whereas a traditional zipline travels directly between two points and relies on gravity for speed and distance, Skysurfer is built on a curvilinear track. Story explained that Skysurfer typically works best at a theme park or family entertainment center that has a couple of acres, like the debut model operating in Branson, Missouri, that navigates turns and rounds corners.
A fun course with multiple turns starts at a length of 1,500 feet.
“Closer to the ground you lose some of the butterflies, but you feel like you are going faster,” said Story.
Why an Interior Designer Should Be Part of Your Planning Team
Are you in the early phase of construction of a new family entertainment center? You probably have an architect and possibly your contractor lined up, but what about an interior designer? If you think that’s the person who fluffs pillows the day before opening, you would be wrong, said Crystal Arreola, owner and principal designer of Studio Interiors, an entertainment-focused interior design firm based in Idaho.
Arreola applies her experience within the entertainment world to collaborate with a client’s architect and contractor to get the space planning right.
“If it’s an indoor environment, we look at everything from the first door you walk through and make sure that all of the space functions well, draws crowds, is easy to maintain, and extends the brand,” she said. She also looks at the functionality of the employee-guest experience by looking to “reduce the steps it takes to get to the food service so your crew can deliver food in a timely manner.”
Interior designers focus on flow and functionality and then form. “Our services extend to full interior finishing and furniture specifications and procurement,” she said.
Tonik Makes a Statement Outdoors
Tonik is a hospitality brand of bold, modern outdoor furniture in playful shapes. Colorful pieces include tall swirly planters, champagne-cork-shaped stools, modular benches, clean-lined cubes, and a swirly rocker.
Instead of using injection molding, Tonik’s whimsical pieces are rotationally molded, which means colored powder gets put into a mold, heated, and rotated to create the form. Most are from the mind of noted industrial designer Karim Rashid.
Tonik is made from high-impact polyethylene and built for outdoor, high-traffic areas, such as poolside, rooftop bars, malls, museums, and more. Buyers can choose from a palette of fashion-forward colors. Moonglow is basic white with a hidden surprise inside: LED lights rotate through a multitude of colors.
The Swizzle lamps come in two heights, and their oversized shades look rather like melted marshmallows. Surface is the low lamp and “works as a great wayfinding device,” said Jason Locke of Tonik creative services.
Tree-Mendous’ Pieces Connect with Nature
Expect to see a few bumps, knots, and “wiggles” in the wood of Tree-Mendous’ aerial adventure parks, tree houses, ziplines, suspension bridges, and, new this year, playground structures.
“That’s our aesthetic,” said Sarah Blatt, marketing and sales director, noting the company uses locally sourced, sustainable materials, mainly black locust and white cedar. “We want things to be kind of quirky, like out of a Tolkien book.”
Tree-Mendous’ nature playground looks to give owners and operators an option to do something smaller and more mobile than its full adventure park and offer an alternative to the typical plastic and metal playground.
The company prides itself on being a B Corporation, which aspires to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.
“Our full mission is to reconnect people with nature and get them outside more and disconnect from technology,” said Blatt, motioning to the display behind her. “You put this in the forest, and it looks like it’s meant to be there.”
Team Battle Theater Breaks Crowd Barrier
Rabbids Team Battle, developed by Triotech in collaboration with Ubisoft, solves a unique problem: How do you present an interactive game to a large audience without making it appear messy or confusing?
“Once you start having 30 or more people shooting at a screen, each with a different color marker, it gets a little confusing,” explained Triotech Marketing Vice President Christian Martin. “Rabbids Team Battle begins where our regular interactive theater ends.”
“Up to now, interactive motion simulators have been limited in the number of players due to screen clutter,” added Triotech Founder, President, and CEO Ernest Yale. “With Team Battle, Triotech has broken that barrier, and we can offer much higher [ride capacity] than previously possible, while still delivering an amazing guest experience for park visitors.”
Building on Triotech’s award-winning XD Dark Ride interactive theater technology, parkgoers inside a 4D theater join an interactive robot showdown. The left half of the room plays for the red team, while the right is on the blue team. The animation features Ubisoft’s Rabbids and unfolds across a 270-degree screen. It’s accompanied by wind, light, and kinesthetic effects.
Small-Space Fryer Cooks While It Cleans
A fryer that cooks while it cleans? The Vito Fryfilter does just that.
“It’s small, it’s convenient, it fits in every kitchen. You can fry and filter at the same time so you have no down time, no customer waiting,” said Sascha Geib, chief operating officer and corporate chef.
Geib highlighted Vito 80’s applications for use in smaller spaces such as in food trucks or concession stands. The filtering process for the Vito 80 takes four-and-a-half minutes, two times per day to clean all of the small particles out of the cooking oil. “You can double the lifetime of the oil and have a better quality of the fried food you are preparing,” said Geib.
Walltopia Introduces New Ropes Adventure Course, Ropetopia Curves
Walltopia of Sofia, Bulgaria, is known for creating challenging climbing walls. The company also designs, engineers, and manufactures aerial adventure courses through its Ropetopia brand. Walltopia announced a new linear adventure course named Ropetopia Curves, marketed as the next generation of ropes courses.
The course features a new belay line offering additional flexibility in design and provides a higher throughput since climbers proceed in just one direction.
CEO Ivaylo Sotirov said that in addition to the new belay line, Ropetopia Curves also offers limitless design opportunities, meaning the courses can fit into a wide variety of spaces. “We wanted to give people less time having to make choices and more time enjoying them,” said Sotirov.
Playing with Mother Earth
The next generation water-play fort for water parks, public splash pads, and outdoor stadiums is set to generate power. Weber Group, in association with Impact Attractions, launched a new playground product, with the goal of creating the world’s first sustainable attractions.
“We looked at sustainability. Instead of putting it on the roofs, instead of putting it in our parking lots, we would put it on our attractions,” said Denise Chapman Weston with Impact Attractions.
The new attraction to be engineered by Weber Group would create a new water playground that combines solar, wind, and hydro power with children at play. Several whimsical turbines will capture the wind, thus producing energy. Water cascading over solar panels can provide a 20 percent efficiency increase in power generation by magnifying the surface of panel, before the water would splash children on a hot day. Meanwhile, the children can activate levers and spinning wheels connected to turbines to generate power.
“We are literally creating energy through play,” Chapman Weston said.
Whirley-DrinkWorks! Adds AR to Coffee
Whirley-DrinkWorks! brought two new tech-based items to IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018: a refillable beverage cup that interfaces with augmented reality (AR) and integration of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology with a specialty coffee machine, which moves coffee drink refills into the self-serve arena.
How is coffee going to use an AR cup? Guests will download the Whirley AR app (in development with plans for a first-quarter 2019 launch) to scan an embedded image on the refillable beverage cup. The design triggers video content to launch on the user’s smartphone. The attraction controls the programming, which can run the gamut from “providing learning experiences, special offers, or to keep guests engaged while waiting in line,” said Alec Conarro, amusement park sales manager at Whirley-DrinkWorks!
In September, ValidFill, a sister company at Whirley-DrinkWorks!, introduced its integration of RFID technology in conjunction with the Franke A600 specialty coffee machine for controlled dispensing. ValidFill’s Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Wade demonstrated how the machine won’t activate or pour if the cup isn’t tagged with an RFID sticker. Stickers are fully programmable to include the beverage size, the number of refills, and even the guest’s name for an on-screen greeting.
Leveraging Big Data for Resorts and Park Operators
WhiteWater unveiled a new mobile platform called Vantage that the company expects will change how resorts and attractions operate.
The public-facing side of the application, which can be embedded in a wristband and linked to a phone, enables guests to customize the music they hear on a ride, locate friends in the park, open lockers, and accumulate points for prizes and food and beverage purchases. They can even buy branded digital theming for projection on a ride.
For operators, WhiteWater said the platform is designed to provide a single overview of how every facet of a venue interconnects. Vantage data can be used to improve safety, shorten lines, and boost sales, the company noted. For example, Vantage tells managers which items are the best-selling by age group and where the highest concentration of that group is currently located so they can direct the appropriate food carts to the area.
“Vantage is a game changer because it really is the intersection of the guest experience and operational excellence,” said WhiteWater’s Aaron Mendelson, who led the product’s development. “Ultimately, we feel this is what’s really going to make a difference in our industry.”
Zamperla Donates Ride to Give Kids The World and Introduces an ‘Instant Assistant’
Children using wheelchairs will now be able to enjoy a new ride at Give Kids The World (GKTW) Village, thanks to the donation of a custom attraction by Zamperla.
The All-Access Happy Swing provides space for one rider using a wheelchair in between the ride unit’s eight traditional seats. A ramp is lowered to provide easy access, where the rider remains in the wheelchair, which is then anchored in four places to the floor of the ride unit.
GKTW Village, a nonprofit resort in central Florida for children with critical illnesses and their families, welcomes 8,000 visitors annually. This is the second all-access ride Zamperla has donated to the resort.
In addition, Zamperla’s newest family ride, the 16-seat rotating WindStarz 4.0, features the Zamperla Instant Assistant to provide real-time safety information to ride operators and owners. The data, which is also stored on a server, provides instant feedback on the number of cycles in any given day and updates on the ride’s mechanical features. A virtual reality feature allows for remote assistance.
“With Zamperla Instant Assistant, our customers have top maintenance and support tailored to their needs,” said the company’s Chief Operating Officer Antonio Zamperla, who added that with Microsoft HoloLens, “we can be on site, even when we’re not.”