IAAPA Wrap Up 2013

SAM visited the recent IAAPA (International Amusement Attraction Park) show in Orlando, Fla, November 18-22 and found a show floor chock-full of ideas for resort operators to consider for their summer business. A theme familiar to our industry was everywhere at this show... How to offer a total family experience. Whether that means extending the "playtime" for the thrill seekers and older kids of the family or addressing mom and the younger kids, it’s all meant to create a more involved experience and increased spending per guest.

SAM gathered its picks from the show of new trends and products that could be the next big thing—but that’s up to you and your guests to decide.

Space Bikes

New this year to the IAAPA show floor were Space Bikes from The Fun Group of Belgium. Race against a friend as you actually pedal your way into orbit on the 23-foot loop—like a bicycle race turned on its head. In defying gravity, this is definitely an attraction for the thrill-seeker. The Space Bike attraction is set up on a portable trailer, so the fun can be moved to any location around the resort. www.fun-fun.be/Space-Bikes

Rock Tops

F&B trends are ever-evolving at IAAPA. RockTops, a New Mexico-based company dedicated to changing the way the world snacks, provides an attractive value proposition in trays, for guest and vendor alike. The more snacks your customer can carry, the more they will buy, and the more your sales will increase. The RockTops line comes in four configurations of carrier trays, including the "Dippin’ Dots 5 oz. RockTop" container, which allows Dippin’ Dots ice cream to be served atop a fountain drink; "The 5x6 One Pocket" (nacho tray/fountain drink); "The Double Hotdog" tray (two hotdogs/fountain drink); and the "The Pretzel/Hotdog" tray (soft pretzel/fountain drink). The patented RockTops containers are made from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 100% recycled material. www.gorocktops.com

Archery Tag

Think big marshmellows on the tips of these patented foam-tipped arrows. Archery Tag is an all-ages attraction. It combines the intensity and excitement of dodgeball and paintball with the skillset of archery. The game can be set up virtually anywhere and played at any time of year. These bow and arrows are extremely user-friendly, making it fun and safe for everyone. And the arrows won't leave welts, brusing, or marks, unlike paintballs. www.archerytag.com

Laser Tag

The Laser tag trend continues to boom as the equipment becomes more and more sophisticated and real. We found a few booths with laser tag for the outdoors. Steradian Laser Tag seems to be the best fit for resorts. We liked this vender because of its focus is the family and corporate market. The system is both easily portable and very afforable. The entire system comes in one box, allowing operators to move the setup to any location on the hill. One set up with everything you need to get six customers playing is only $1,800.  www.steradiantech.com

Big Air

There were several new airbag companies on the show floor, along with extreme inflatables that incorporated a bag landing. Two bag companies, Spectrum Sports Int’l and Zero-Shock, offered an all-in-one airbag set-up called “Mobile Entertainment.” The units come complete with trailer hitch, easy assembly platform(s) and the bags. Spectrum Sports was offering demos of its new Stunt Jump, and Zero-Shock highlighted a patented KK Technology (multiple vertical air chambers), which the company says removes the need to land in the "sweet spot"—the user can land anywhere in the bag and not bounce or slide off. On the extreme inflatable side, The Dropkick from Epic Rides is claimed to be the world's first inflatable launch slide (shown above). A few of the resort operators we ran into on the show floor expressed an interest in this product. Stay tuned.
www.spectrumsports.com / www.zero-shock.com / www.epicrideco.ca


Chilly Ribbons is a unique take on shaved-ice treats that the company calls “shaved snow.” Creamy shavings of a naturally-flavored frozen treat, it’s not ice cream or yogurt, but has a rich taste and texture. It also comes with a portable booth setup that looks like a little Swiss chalet complete with falling snow. This could easily be a fun summer food addition. The con is the price tag, at $65,000, but the company has some revenue sharing options. www.chillyribbons.com

pint-sized adventure

A big trend for AAPs (aerial adventure parks) is to offer more products that address the needs of younger kids. Treetop Quest has an all-new design called Urban Adventure KID that comes in heights from 8 feet to 12 feet off the ground, offering options with or without a safety belay system. Whitewater West/PrimePlay also came out with No Boundaries, an all-in-one zone for both harnessed and unharnessed participants of all ages. No Boundaries weaves together a horizontal challenge course, radical vertical uphill climbs with downward controlled descents, and a winding aerial zip coaster into a singular adventure park. There are also observation decks in the middle so parents can watch the action (or get into it). www.treetopquest.com 


The statistics on how many selfies are shared on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media outlets are beyond staggering. Combine the selfie trend with another hot trend, photobooths, and you have a winning combination—a selfie photobooth connected to social media networks. It's free marketing when those pictures get posted to your customers’ social networks. If you don't offer multiple photo opportunities at your resort, you are missing out on some great, free publicity. www.simonelliotevents.com


Educational entertainment or, edutainment," continues as a trend from last year with some innovative new products. The best example of this, in our opinion, was Animalive from Studio41b. We were so impressed we brought Ben Wilcox of Cranmore and Bill Cairns of Bromley over to get a demonstration. This computer-generated character is controlled by a someone in a small booth nearby. This person speaks and moves to animate whatever character you can dream up. We see this being a fun and engaging way to introduce first-timers to our sport and mountain environment. www.studio41b.com

Free falling

Ziplines and aerial adventure parks continue to innovate with new ways to thrill us. A new addition to the free-fall category is Quick Jump by Head Rush Technologies. Magnetic braking technology has been adapted to allow an initial rapid descent, giving the rider a true stomach-flipping thrill. Aerial Adventure Tech also offers the free-fall adventure with its self-powered device, the Powerfan. Both can be relocated easily to keep your aerial park fresh. www.headrushtech.com / www.aerialadventuretech.com

water bike

If your paddle boats need an update, this could be just the ticket. It's stable and engaging for all ages, and a work-out for those so inclined. It comes in single and double units and there’s a retail shop profit share program.Suggested retail is $1,899. www.itbikes.com

chill out

Creating spaces that encourage people to linger is part of the patio culture trend. To that end, MistAmerica offers a twist on its popular misting towers—shade. Lava Heat Italia’s patio heaters, warm guests on chilly days; on warm days, they can serve up ambient light with no heat—a fire is always a crowd pleaser. www.mistamerica.com | www.lavaheat.com