2019 IAAPA Expo Recap: Sights And Sounds From The Show Floor

Last week, we were down in sunny central Florida to cover the 2019 IAAPA Expo, the global conference and trade show for the attractions industry, and our second time attending the event. We’ll have plenty of content coming up on Coaster101 that emerged from the conversations on the trade show floor (and beyond), but we wanted to give you a quick photo recap of some of everything we saw, just in case you weren’t following us on social media last week. (And if you’re not — click these links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube )

S&S-Sansei Reveals “Axis” Details

Before the IAAPA Expo officially got started on Tuesday morning, S&S-Sansei Technologies unveiled a few more details about their new “Axis” coaster, which first made the rounds on social media prior to the Expo. This happened at S&S-Sansei’s “Sponsor Spotlight” event.

The biggest takeaway that I gleamed from the presentation is that while the Axis “test” coaster was a 4-passenger car, the Axis coaster concept was designed as a “train” roller coaster. From S&S, “This ride expands the limits of what a roller coaster can do.”


Iron Gwazi Lead Car Reveal

The first Press Event of the IAAPA Expo was the reveal of Busch Gardens Tampa’s Iron Gwazi at the Rocky Mountain Construction booth.

Featuring green, teal, purple and pink, the Iron Gwazi trains are certain to “pop” against the blue skies and purple track of Iron Gwazi. For more photos, check out our article!

Maurer and Carnival Cruise Line Reveal “Bolt” Ride Vehicle

The second vehicle reveal of IAAPA was for “BOLT,” the first roller coaster at sea. Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy was on hand for the announcement. BOLT is a “Spike” Coaster from Maurer rides, where riders can control their own speed.

However, Duffy did not come alone, as she was joined by Carnival’s CFO (Chief Fun Officer) Shaquille O’Neal. Here’s something worth noting. Shaq is 7’1 and 300+ pounds, and fit (snugly) in the back row of the ride vehicle. He did try to get OCCC Security to the booth to help him get out of the car, but was mostly joking.

Orion’s Lead Car

While there was not a press event for Bolliger and Mabillard, it didn’t require much hunting to find the lead car for Kings Island’s new-for-2020 giga coaster, Orion, which was displayed proudly at the corner of their IAAPA Booth.

In true Cedar Fair giga coaster fashion, the B&M clamshell restraints are supplemented by an additional safety measure, which I will exclusively refer to as “Orion’s Belts.”

ETF & Holovis Reveal New Technology for LEGOLAND New York

Opening July 4, 2020, LEGOLAND New York is one of the most anticipated new theme park developments for 2020. With Dutch ride manufacturers ETF, and UK-based technology firm Holovis, LEGOLAND New York will transform guests into LEGO Minifigures in the LEGO Factory Adventure.

Holovis is utilizing “first of its kind” guest personalization technology to transform guests. Their patented technology can recognize guest’s hair color, shirt color, and whether or not they’re wearing glasses or not. It’s a neat piece of technology!

Texas Stingray Lead Car Debut

At the Great Coasters International booth, SeaWorld was on-hand to reveal the lead car for Texas Stingray, SeaWorld San Antonio’s new-for-2020 wooden coaster.

Clair Hain, president of GCI, noted how excited he was to bring a “real” wooden coaster to Texas, noting that the last “major” wooden coaster in the state was now a steel coaster.

Texas Stingray will open Spring 2020.

Elsewhere at Great Coasters’ booth were a new train design, and a model, which debuted at last year’s IAAPA Expo of a dueling wooden coaster with inversions.

I really hope we see this in the near future!

Zamperla Debuts Two New Coaster Trains, NebulaZ and Announces Luna Farm

In the first of two announcements, Zamperla announced two new coaster trains: Lightning, which is a successor to the Thunderbolt trains, and DangleZ, a new coaster train for families.

There were many improvements made to the Lightning train from Thunderbolt, including a lighter weight body, and other structural improvements.

DangleZ trains have a 160-degree motion range where the seats can rotate on top of the track.

Zamperla announced the Luna Farm Family Entertainment Center opening in Italy. It will have a variety of rides, and will be Zamperla-owned, featuring their own IP.

Zamperla also debuted their NebulaZ flat ride. It is designated as a “tweener” ride for the age gap between younger kids and thrill-seeking teens and adults, something that was noted as a major gap in the industry.

Zamperla later announced four new rides coming to Luna Park to celebrate the park’s 10th anniversary. We’ll have a more in-depth feature on Zamperla’s IAAPA coming to the site soon!

Triotech Announces Knott’s Beary Tales: Return to the Fair

Triotech CEO Ernest Yale was on stage at the Triotech booth to give a few more details as Triotech transforms their “Voyage to the Iron Reef” Interactive Dark Ride to Knott’s Beary Tales: Return to the Fair, which is celebrating Knott’s Berry Farm’s 100th Anniversary.

Triotech was demoing their latest dark ride, Neon Ninja as well.

We’ll have more information on Triotech and Knott’s Beary Tales coming soon!

Breaking The Ice With Premier Rides

Another company celebrating 25 years in 2019 is Premier Rides, who debuted the trains for Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando.

These might be my favorite train design at this year’s IAAPA Expo. The color scheme and ice-breaking pattern were so clean.

Ice Breaker will feature the “comfort collars” like are seen on Tempesto and Tigris.

Mako? Not So Fast!

At Bolliger & Mabillard, an announcement was held to announce the name of SeaWorld San Diego’s new B&M Dive Machine.

Rumored to be named Mako, the name turned out to be Emperor, themed to the Emperor Penguin. (Personal Aside: I LOVE this name.)

Extreme Engineering Announces 3 New Cloud Coasters, Partnership with Producers Group

Extreme Engineering announced three new cloud coasters, one in the Middle East, one in Vietnam, and one in North America, which will be in Canada.

The Cloud Coaster technology will also be used in The Producer’s Group’s new dark ride concept, The Dark Rider.

Brogent Technologies & Simulators

Brogent Technologies highlighted a series of individual simulators to create a racing experience. Riders would be able to drink and “drive” — to me this felt like a TopGolf version of Go-Karts/Racing.  Brogent also announced they would be building another Flying Theater attraction in Times Square, New York.

The Gravity Group’s Intricate Coaster Design

Details were scarce about this Timberliner lead car at The Gravity Group’s booth. I heard several things throughout the expo, from heading to a park in Asia to just being a showpiece for the IAAPA Expo. Guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

Skyline Attractions

Skyline Attractions had a model for their newest concept, the Skywarp Orbit.

Designed to fit under a 30′ ceiling, the Orbit will be perfect for indoor parks or Family Entertainment Centers who are looking for a unique coaster experience.

Skyline also had their Original Skywarp, Horizon and Eclipse models on display.

Ancient Lore Village

We gathered around the campfire at Infinite Kingdoms, who are partnering with the Weber Group to provide thematic elements for Ancient Lore Village, which will open in Tennessee in 2022. We will have an in-depth feature on Ancient Lore Village coming very soon!

Garfield & Friends heading to China.

At Sally Dark Rides, Garfield, Jon and Odie were atop some shipping crates, headed to Six Flags Zhejiang. Selfishly, I wish they were heading to Kennywood.

Alterface Looks To Expand Popcorn Universe

Off the success of their Popcorn’s Revenge erratic dark ride at Walibi Belgium, Alterface CEO Benoit Cornet announced plans to expand on the Popcorn Universe by leveraging the IP into toys and whole theme park lands with more Popcorn themed rides. The Popcorn character proved to be more universal than Alterface anticipated.

Rides 4U

Rides 4U had a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a Mini HeadRush 360 indoors, and a Crazy Surf outside.

There were two coaster credits indoors at the IAAPA Expo, including the SBF Visa Kiddie Coaster “SkyFlyer…”

And probably the most talked about attraction at this year’s IAAPA Expo, the SBF Visa “Hamster Wheel” Coaster.

This coaster took the traditional SBF Visa spinning cars, and added a lead car with two free-spinning seats in a circle, thus getting the Hamster Wheel nickname.

Though I initially wasn’t going to experience the Hamster Wheel lead car, curiosity got the better of me. Luckily for me, Hunter from YouTube Channel Coaster Hunting and Thrills United/Koaster Kids had his GoPro in the front seat and was able to document my ride.

Taking a turn while upside down was certainly a new, and pretty intense experience for me. Gravity was in full effect during our ride, as you can tell by the video.

Falcon’s Creative Group and Katmandu

Earlier this year, Falcon’s Creative Group announced a partnership with Katmandu, where Falcon’s would help Katmandu expand and build the first theme park in Punta Cana. During a panel discussion at the Falcon’s Creative booth, we learned a little more about the project, which both organizations are referring to as a “Micro Theme Park”

The Katmandu brand can fit in 6-10 acres, making it ideal for nearly any location. At the Punta Cana location, there will be a Falcon’s Creative Group Suspended Theater, the debut of the concept, along with a 4D Dark Ride produced by Falcon’s Creative.

It was clear how much the two companies appreciated each other’s partnership, noting that the relationship was “12 years in the making.”

Lagotronics Reveals Details for Smurfs Interactive Dark Ride

Ride Entertainment client Lagotronics unveiled details from their new Smurfs attraction, coming to China. Though there were no plans to bring it to North America, Lagotronics and Ride Entertainment both noted that there was a lot of interest at the IAAPA Expo to bring the ride system to a US Park.

CAVU Designwerks Unveils New Trackless Dark Ride Vehicle

One of the sleekest announcements at IAAPA 2019 was CAVU Designwerks’ new self driving trackless dark ride vehicle.

CAVU wanted to start with a proven product and improve it. Their new vehicle is self-driving and allows for integration with real time media and real time attractions. We’ll have more on this soon!


At Whitewater West, we learned where North America’s first “SlideWheel” is going: Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin Dells.

We also learned about some future WhiteWater projects coming soon.

There was also a mega model of a WhiteWater project under development.

Polin Waterparks

Polin Waterparks had a variety of new concepts, including the above slide concept with two splits, resulting in four possible ride experiences.

Everything Else (Not Even Close To True)

Golden Horse was exhibiting!

As was PTC, celebrating 115 years in business in 2019.

Street Curling again had a presence, and I mention this because of their booth, I got to hold an Olympic Gold Medal (belonging to USA Curling’s Tyler George, a member of the 2018 USA Olympic Curling Team)

How do you make BeaverTails better? Add Dippin’ Dots!

As noted throughout this article, we’ll have even more content coming from IAAPA 2019. Stay tuned!