Adventure Park Insider made the annual pilgrimage to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) expo in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 18-22, along with many players in the aerial adventure world. All came to get a first-hand look at the latest trends and new products.
There was a lot to take in, and the show halls were packed. The show itself continues to grow (26,000 buyers last year and 27,800 this year), and there was even talk of expanding the space for 2021.
In the broader amusement and attractions world that IAAPA represents, virtual reality continues to be the biggest craze, as it has been the past several years. In nearly every aisle of the gargantuan show, attendees wore the familiar VR goggles as they tried out new virtual experiences, from killing zombies to a thrilling motorcycle ride while being chased by vampires and wolves.
One surprising trend with legs: Recreational axe throwing. Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like: Guests hurl axes at targets. There were half a dozen axe-throwing booths, demoing a variety of axes and targets—everything from traditional wooden targets, with an archery-style bullseye hung at the far end of a metal cage, to a digital, laser-projected “target” on wood. The projected target can be just about anything: a creepy clown, a zombie, or even “your ex-wife,” said the company president. Always good to get out your aggressions.
In keeping with the wood-products theme, we saw some new entries for the smallest of our customers. Sandy Creek Mining, producers of the popular mining sluice products fabricated from wood, debuted a new 10 lb. bag of ore for sifting, called the “Motherlode.” Each 10-lb. bag includes a gigantic crystal that will delight kids and adults alike.
SunKid had some new entries in its Wood’n’Fun products line, including a new “wood-ball tracks” activity. Think of a giant marble run with myriad dips and tricks. To play, kids purchase a logoed wooden ball, which they can then take home as a souvenir. Guerilla marketing for the win.
We also saw continued innovation with climbing wall products. Perhaps the most eye-catching was Eldorado’s new experience, Kinex, that has ninja-like elements. Pictures and more complete descriptions of several of these products can be found in “New Products” on page 63.
The adventure park world continues to be a relatively small part of IAAPA, but it earns a lot of attention at the expo. One sign of that: both Tree-Mendous Aerial Adventures and Sandy Creek Mining received awards for excellence in booth design at this year’s show, and The Trekking Group’s Treewalk Village was honored as the best kids’ ride/attraction.