Huge amusement, attraction trade show in Orlando

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm •  Published: November 21, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Have you ever wondered where your fun comes from?

The answer: here, at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions expo.

The five-day trade show took place this week in Orlando, smack in the middle of the world's biggest theme park corridor. It's the largest such convention in the world, and people from more than 100 countries either attend, or exhibit, at the mind-bogglingly massive show.

A few numbers to explain the scale: Organizers sold out 500,000 square feet (46,450 square meters) of indoor show space. More than 27,000 people attended on the first day. If one were to walk the entire show floor, it would tally 9 miles (15 kilometers).

No wonder a man was spotted sleeping in a car parked in the convention center's lot mid-day on Wednesday. Or why another man could be seen on all fours on the floor, hunched over the show's map (which is the size of a small table when unfolded).

Here, leisure is serious business.

"We're trying to pick out what our customers are going to want," said John Schweiger, the CEO of Coming Attractions Theaters, a four-state chain of movie houses and entertainment centers on the West Coast.

Schweiger was at the show looking for bumper cars and go-karts for a new indoor entertainment center that he's opening in Alaska.

"Our country needs fun right now," he mused. "Everything else that's going on puts you in a state of depression."

There's everything that a theme park, entertainment center, zoo or museum could want at this show.

"You can buy something today and put it in your park immediately, or find a germ of a project for five years from now," said Jeremy Schoolfield, the editor-in-chief of Funworld, the IAAPA trade magazine.

There were architects who design sleek museum exhibits and ones who design tropical mini-golf courses. Companies that manufacture wheels for roller coasters. Vendors of water slides and ziplines.

Tickets, trash cans, trampoline supplies. A mall-sized parking lot crammed with bounce houses. Animatronic giant bugs. A lifelike mechanical snake-oil salesman, made to look like something from the 1800s, that lip-syncs the song "Moves Like Jagger."

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