What’s New?

AT NOTEBOOK: John W.C. Robinson

It has to be the number one question we’re greeted with all week long during IAAPA Expo. You run into an associate or an old friend and, invariably, one of the first questions out of someone’s mouth is “Have you seen anything new?” or “What’s new on the show floor?” or “Did you see that new ride in aisle 300?” or some variation of that inquiry.


Of course, there’s always something new. There’s always something different, something that pushes the boundaries a little.

I’ve been attending the show long enough to remember when Dippin’ Dots made its debut at IAAPA Expo. Promoting itself as “The ice cream of the future,” the ultra-cold treat was something everyone was talking about that year. Since then, thanks to the company’s free samples, it has become such a staple at the event that it’s practically a food group.

At one of my very first IAAPA Expos, Zamperla debuted its Telecombat ride. A single car was on the show floor, and test pilot riders could take a ride and try out the built-in eight-bit video game and imagine themselves battling other riders in flight. It was a ride. It was interactive. And, with a little imagination, it was an early stage of immersion. And it’s what was new that year at the show.

The world of the attractions industry has jumped light years since then. In the past month alone, I’ve walked through a haunted swamp, built a lightsaber and watched it spring to life in my hands, flown the Millennium Falcon and soared alongside an eagle over Washington. I’m soon to take a seat next to Hagrid and confront magical beasts I’ve only read about. 

What was new at the Expo last year? Certainly no one escaped a conversation about S&S-Sansei’s drivable car that could transform into a moving robot right before our eyes. The generation that grew up playing with toy versions of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime are now the executives and businesspeople walking the show floor and we get to view what we’d previously only imagined as children (nearly every day after school) come to life right in front of us.

And yet, we all know, there’ll be something new at IAAPA Expo this year. We’ll pass by a booth at the show and discover something that’ll ignite our excitement for just what is possible in this industry and what will bring out the smiles and laughter of guests for the next generation to come.

Asking “What’s new?” is continually challenging our industry to push the limits and think outside the box. It’s a challenge that not only has our industry continually accepted, but one that IAAPA Expo has continued to showcase.

This article appears in the NOVEMBER I 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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