Park Briefs — Winter 2022

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IAAPA Expo, Orlando, Fla., Nov 15-19

The Adventure Park Insider team hit the floor at the 2021 IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) Expo in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 15-19. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends and vendors, and check out some of the new products being developed to drive revenue, solve customer service problems, and of course, bring the fun.

Attendance was down this year due to the pandemic, but still quite robust. Daily numbers were around 25,000-28,000 people (pre-pandemic, attendance was typically upwards of 40,000). There were 882 exhibitors, a relatively strong turnout considering a normal year draws 1,100+. Masks and vaccinations were recommended but not required; hey, it’s Florida. So, we boostered up and headed down south.

The last time we went to IAAPA, in 2019, we reported ax throwing and virtual reality (VR) tech were everywhere. Two years later, ax throwing was nowhere to be found, but VR has continued to grow as a category. We saw fewer food vendors and product demonstrations than normal—again, due to Covid. Exhibitors from overseas also had to grapple with fluctuating travel restrictions and pervasive shipping issues.

Below are some scenes from the show floor. We were glad we went and even happier to see some familiar faces.

Left: Adam Sutner, Crystal Mountain, Wash. (left), Dan Brennan, Holmes Solutions (center), and Adventure Park Insider’s Jack Fagone (right) discuss Holmes Solutions’ new Switchback technology, which allows curved rails to be incorporated into zip line tours. Middle: VR was everywhere on the show floor—the Oculus Quest 2 VR set, seen here, recently posted sales of 10 million units. VR is not going away, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some innovative operators introduce the tech in adventures at height. Right: Adventure Park Insider’s Sharon Walsh (left) and Head Rush Technologies’ Jenna Ovett (right) talk the Head Rush TRUEBLUE iQ Auto Belay, which the company promotes as more durable and lighter than previous models.

Top left: Jim Liggett of RCI Adventure Products tries to persuade API’s Sharon Walsh that he should be the magazine’s next cover star. Top middle: Granite Insurance had a successful show and a great booth location. Pictured here are Olivia Rowan, API (left), and Ruthie Rivers, Granite Insurance. Top right: The team from American Adventure Park Systems celebrated a “great show,” even without their usual big demo course for attendees. The crew was promoting its new Ocho series safety hooks. Pictured L to R: Aditya Patel, Patrick Avery, Sharon Walsh, and Mike and Donna Holder.

ACCT Executive Director Search Remains on Track

The search for a new executive director for the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) was on schedule for completion this spring as we went to press. As is the association’s habit, it was taking a deliberate and organized approach to the effort.

A process design task force led by Leslie Sohl, amusement rides and devices technical specialist for the Colorado department of public safety, had developed a thorough search plan by early December, and ACCT anticipated posting the job description, requirements, and criteria by mid-month. ACCT hoped to begin accepting applications shortly thereafter. The hiring process itself is being spearheaded by a separate hiring task force under the direction of Kurt Damron, CEO of Highlands Aerial Park, Ga. The ACCT board will make the final choice.

ACCT expects the process to be sufficiently advanced by the time the association’s annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio, begins in early February that it will be able to host some candidates at the event. ACCT then expects to name the new executive director shortly thereafter. This will allow some overlap with outgoing executive director Shawn Tierney, who plans to leave by May 1, and promote a smooth transfer of leadership.

The new executive director will have three main goals, according to ACCT board chair Carson Rivers, VP of Challenge Towers: membership development and education, public relations, and the continued financial growth of the organization. While the association’s income has been relatively constant and the group’s finances have become more stable under Tierney’s tenure, the board would like to see growth in several areas, Rivers said. Those include credentialing, conferences, and educational services such as the ACCT Academy. •

ACCT Conference Pre-Con Sessions and Updated Covid Protocols

In addition to the dozens of workshops and sessions planned during the ACCT annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 10-13., 2022, there are 11 pre-conference sessions scheduled to be held Feb. 7-10. These day-long or multi-day sessions cover a handful of topics in great depth. Topics include PPE inspection, universal accessibility and inclusion, group dynamics, ACCT operation and training standards, and more.

There are also several certification courses, including ARC First-Aid/CPR/AED Instructor Certification, and the ACCT Inspector Certification prep course.

Covid safety. ACCT, in partnership with Emergency Concierge International, updated its Covid safety protocols in the fall, adding that all pre-conference and conference attendees must present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination or proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. ACCT will also provide N-95 or KN-95 masks for attendees whose masks don’t meet minimum requirements for face coverings. Protocols and requirements are subject to change.

For the most up-to-date information or to register, visit www.acctconference.com 

ACCT conference attendees will once again have the opportunity to meet face-to-face at the 2022 event in Cleveland. Photo credit: ACCT

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