• 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.”

  • Exhibitions Mean Business: Here’s Why

    Exhibitions are ubiquitous, yet are not seen as economic engines driving our GDP. It’s time for that to change.

    Continue Reading

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