• IAAPA returns to Orlando with more exhibitors, bigger showroom floor

    Originally published in the Orlando Sentinel by Caitlin Dineen


    The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo returns to Orlando this week.

    Expected to bring more than 28,000 attendees to the Orange County Convention Center, the weeklong convention starts today with the tradeshow floor opening Tuesday in the North/South building.

    It’s the “largest international conference and trade show dedication to innovations and new learning in the attractions industry,” according to IAAPA.

    The 97th annual expo’s show floor will feature more than 1,000 companies from around the world. Last year’s exhibits included fully operational amusement-park rides, food trucks and hundreds of colorful displays.

    The event also includes educational seminars and is traditionally used as a platform for industry leaders to announce new projects or plans.

    The event’s estimated economic impact to Orlando is $51.3 million with a global industry impact estimated at $39.5 billion, according to IAAPA.

    Last year, more than a dozen Central Florida businesses said they used the expo to attract new buyers and expand their businesses’ reach.

    This year, 127 Florida exhibitors will be in attendance, including 42 from Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Orlando businesses account for the largest Central Florida representation with 23 businesses signed up to attend.

    Legoland Florida starts annexation

    Legoland Florida Resort has started the process of annexing its Polk County property into the city of Winter Haven.

    Attraction leaders said the decision to annex was made because it’s a step that should better allow the 150-acre park to evolve.

    “This transition into the city is the next logical step in our evolution as a resort,” said Adrian Jones, the resort’s general manager, “and underscores our commitment to fulfill the vision of the Cypress Gardens Boulevard study.”

    That study, commissioned by the Winter Haven Economic Development Council, determined that the Cypress Gardens Boulevard corridor could support additional hotels, restaurants and entertainment options.

    The annexation process is expected to take about two months, according to Deric Feacher, Winter Haven’s city manager. That process includes creating new ordinances and documentation, plus two public hearings by the city commission.

    “Becoming part of Winter Haven will bring responsive, local municipal services such as police, fire and expedited permitting closer,” said Feacher. “Annexing the Legoland property will help the city guide future development along the Cypress Gardens Boulevard corridor to complement the resort’s mission and enhance the experience of Legoland visitors.”

    Orlando Eye adds Eye Glow lounge option

    The Orlando Eye, the 400-foot observation wheel on International Drive, is starting a new nighttime ride experience called the “Eye Glow.”

    Guests who opt for the Eye Glow package will receive a flight of wine, beer or cider, or a glass of champagne. They also get premium access to the new Eye Glow lounge before the boarding the wheel.

    The package went on sale Friday. Tickets are $30 per person, regardless if you purchase it online or at the terminal building.

    The Eye Glow lounge features bright lights, glow elements and dance music offering guests the “perfect party atmosphere.”

    “International Drive and I-Drive 360 are home to some exciting nightlife options, and we wanted to provide a perfect option for our guests to transition from their restaurant dining experience to their night out on the town,” said Robin Goodchild, general manager of the Orlando Eye.

    Colortopia opens at Epcot’s Innoventions

    Innoventions, located at Walt Disney World’s Epcot theme park, has a new interactive exhibit.

    Colortopia, which opened Friday, features three different zones — the Color Lab, Color Our World Studio and the Power of Color Theater. The new exhibit, sponsored by Glidden paint, shows guests the power of color and the emotions they can elicit.

    “The interesting thing about color is it means something different to everybody,” said Max Wetzel, Glidden’s chief marketing officer. “As we built this exhibit, we wanted to provide different places for all people to experience color in ways that are important to them.”

    The attraction took three years to create and build.

    “Epcot is sort of this park that celebrates human achievement and technology, especially here in Future World,” said Jason Grandt, art director of Walt Disney’s Imagineering. “So these types of experiences that are highly immersive, highly interactive, play into that.”

  • 5 Trade Show Tips for Entrepreneurs

    Originally appeared on Small Biz Daily By Rieva Lesonsky


    Trades shows are increasingly important to many small businesses, but to startups it can be particularly crucial. And you can’t just decide to exhibit at a show—you need to do some planning first. Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of Exhibitions Mean Business:

    1. Determine WHEN it’s best for you and your business to exhibit at a show. Naturally, there are different stages of startup growth, so it’s important you know what stage of the game you’re at before attending an event. Decide whether your business is at a point where you’re ready to talk specifics with potential investors, partners and customers or if you’re more at the stage of walking the floor as an attendee to do some live onsite research. Ensuring your business is in the right place to become a fully-fledged exhibitor will help ensure maximum return on investment.
    2. Determine WHY you want to attend a trade show. Ask yourself why you’re considering a trade show as a tactic to gain exposure for your business. Are you entering a new market? Are you seeking executive positioning? Are you searching for product/service publicity? Having a clear notion of why you want to invest in a trade show will help guide your development of the strategy you take to plan your participation.
    3. Determine WHAT event is best for you. Just because a show in your industry may be popular or well attended doesn’t mean it’s the right show for your business. Do research to find out which exhibition best caters to your specific reasoning for wanting to attend. Many exhibitions are aimed at very niche audiences, and determining which one is best for your business will grant you access to key connections in the industry.
    4. Determine WHO is at the event. Each show is going to have competitors, vendors, thought leaders and many others within your industry who you could benefit from meeting or observing. Find out who will be at the event so you can set up meetings with prospective customers or vendors, and so you can check out competitors while you’re there. Plan to not only exhibit at the show, but be an attendee, so you’re able to take it all in and see what everyone has to offer.
    5. Determine WHERE to attend an event. As a business owner you’re naturally interested in expanding your business’ reach. Whether domestic or international, invest in a show that is located within or near a market you’re interested in entering or growing. While not all shows you attend will be in a market you’re interested in entering, the ones that are prove to be valuable additions to the line-up and allow you to network with individuals and organizations who have stature within the market.
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