5 Takeaways from IAAPA Attractions Expo 2019

Posted November, 11, 2019


We’re wrapping up our third year at IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida and it’s safe to say that the attractions industry has no signs of slowing down. This year, there was a push towards improving guest experiences at theme parks, family entertainment centers (FEC’s) and national parks around the world.

In the chaos of flashing lights, roller coasters, humanoid robots, and waffle machines, we managed to compile five takeaways from IAAPA 2019.

Improving ride throughput


Theme parks are always trying to heighten guest experiences by improving ride throughput. Operators have to balance leaving each person with a memorable experience while avoiding excessive lineups that could affect the experience of others. The idea of throughput is creating the most efficient method of churning guests through rides to improve sales and customer satisfaction.

Throughput includes everything from making on-boarding rides a seamless process to creating shorter bursts of intense fun which still delivers value for the guests. Statistically, when a person can experience 7-8 rides during a single visit, their satisfaction levels improve which leads to more spending on food and merchandise.

Safety in amusement parks

Safety IAAPA

Our expertise in risk management was reinforced by industry professionals such as Phil Geering of Geering Engineering and Linda Freeman of Rockwell Automation who delivered an interactive workshop on conducting safety risk assessments.

There were also breakout panels about increasing guest safety in amusement parks in light of recent tragedies involving active shooters. Some of these ideas included efficient metal detectors that can process large quantities of guests and disguising barricades as potted flower arrangements to protect attendees from vehicle threats. The demand for safer theme parks are rising as operators look towards reducing their liability while still providing family-orientated fun.

To learn how to conduct a safety risk assessment check out our piece in Machine Design.

Advancements in robotics and AI

IAAPA Robot 1

Theme park operators are always trying to push for enhancing guest experiences which goes beyond the rides. Robotics and AI are making strides towards developing new ways to engage the public. Whether it’s an interactive information kiosk attendant, robust animatronics to bring life to an environment, or even a choreographed dance troupe to attract wandering eyes, theme parks are turning to advanced robotics to create the ultimate guest experience.

Virtual and augmented reality


There are new applications for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) which are creating new opportunities to shock and amaze. This year, IAAPA supported a host of demos that featured untethered VR headsets which brought players to a small enclosure to engage in multiplayer games. Some companies went above and beyond to include shaking chairs, hit detection vests, air jets and more to create immersive gaming experiences.

Augmented reality also appeared in children’s games allowing players to mold sand and create their own topography for AR dinosaurs to roam interactively. The technology has shown a considerable evolution over the past decade and continues to be explored in new applications.

Still, there are two major issues affecting VR: overcoming motion sickness for new players and improving throughput as each game requires setup and detailed instructions.

The growth of IAAPA

Image credits to Coaster 101

(Photo credit: Coaster 101

There’s no stopping the industry as IAAPA boasted the highest attendance in five years. The growth is an indicator of more players in attractions stepping forward with innovative technologies, collaborative spirit, and a plethora of memorable experiences--including a surprise visit from Shaq!

IAAPA continues to spread their roots across the industry by hosting events in new markets around the world. They also unveiled their new global headquarters in Orlando for members to connect and share. With active members in IAAPA, ASTM and TSSA, there's a wealth of knowledge and experience available to drive the attractions industry into the next decade.

From all the new friends, familiar faces and friendly convention staff, the Hedgehog team wants to thank you for putting on an incredible expo. We’re looking forward to seeing what IAAPA 2020 has to offer and where the industry is going next.

For more information on the IAAPA Expo visit their website.




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