Recapping Day One of the 2023 IAAPA Expo
Every fall, the greater amusement industry descends upon Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center for the annual IAAPA Expo. This premier global event for the attractions industry brings together passionate professionals from around the world to shape the future of creating unforgettable guest experiences. While there are countless business deals going down on the show floor, a highlight for those in attendance are the “big reveals” and news announced on the trade show floor.
During the first day of the 2023 IAAPA Expo, there were wall-to-wall press events and announcements, and Shane from the Coaster101 made his way through IAAPA’s “Nine Miles of Aisles” to cover the highlights of Day 1 of the 2023 IAAPA Expo. Here’s a little of what he saw (and what we saw online as well!)
Cedar Point and Zamperla Debut “Top Thrill 2” Train
The first reveal of the day was the one of the most anticipated leading into this year’s expo, as Cedar Point joined Zamperla at their booth for the unveiling of the trains for the new “Top Thrill 2,” scheduled to open in Spring 2024. Utilizing Zamperla’s weld-free, aluminum-milled “Lightning” train, Top Thrill 2 will launch guests at America’s Roller Coast forwards, backwards, and forwards again at speeds of 74mph, 101mph, and 120mph, respectively.
For more on Top Thrill 2 and the unveiling of the lead car, check out the release from Zamperla!
New Trains for Comet at Hersheypark
Exhibiting at their 100th consecutive IAAPA Expo, Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters announced that Comet, the last coaster ever purchased by Milton Hershey himself, would be receiving new trains that will arrive at Hersheypark in a few weeks, and be ready for the 2024 season. For more than 75 years, the classic wooden roller coaster has been widely known for its great first drop, several airtime-producing bunny hills and long reign inside Hersheypark, and was actually constructed by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters!
The new modern trains will feature individual ratcheting lapbars, replacing the “buzz bars” that are on Comet’s current rolling stock.
Sally Dark Rides Unveils Mr. Krabs Animatronic
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As has become tradition during recent IAAPA Expos, Sally Dark Rides unveiled an incredibly impressive animatronic for an upcoming attraction – this year was for their upcoming interactive Spongebob Squarepants Dark Ride, set to open at the Circus Circus Adventuredome in Las Vegas in 2024. The larger-than-life Mr. Krabs animatronic serves as a Carnival Barker for those riding Spongebob’s Crazy Carnival Ride.
Penguin Trek Slides Into SeaWorld
At the Bolliger & Mabillard booth, the Swiss ride designers unveiled the trains for Penguin Trek, SeaWorld Orlando’s new-for-2024 family coaster from B&M. Featuring a new train style and “overhead lap bar” restraint system for B&M, the snowmobile themed trains for the upcoming family launch coaster will accommodate riders as short as 42″ tall. When the coaster opens, it will be the 8th roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, cementing the park’s status as “Orlando’s Coaster Capital.”
Good Gravy Lives Up To The Design Hype
When Holiday World announced the “Good Gravy” family boomerang coaster from Vekoma earlier this year, fans were ecstatic about the ride’s theming, and when they unveiled the trains for the coaster earlier today, the park and Vekoma proved that they both were willing to live up to the level of praise. Pulling back the curtain on the “Gravy Train,” Holiday World showcased a family coaster train that not only was shaped like a gravy boat, but also featured ornate detailing in its paint scheme, and the rear car even featured a handle!
RMC & Silver Dollar City Unveil Pumper Wagons for Fire In The Hole
Another new model debut on the show floor, Rocky Mountain Construction and Silver Dollar City unveiled the custom “Pumper Wagon” ride vehicles for the newly-reimagined Fire in the Hole indoor family coaster. The first indoor coaster from RMC, Fire in the Hole’s announcement featured a performance from Silver Dollar City bluegrass band KC and the Attaboys before the Fire Chief had the assembled crowd yell “Fire in the Hole!” to reveal the new ride vehicle.
Falcon’s Flight Looks Skyward
One of the more mysterious coasters showcased at this year’s IAAPA Expo, at least at it relates to speculation and feasibility of actually happening, is Falcon’s Flight, the allegedly-soon-to-be world’s tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster when it opens at Six Flags Qiddiya in Saudi Arabia. While the track is under construction in the middle east, Intamin and the Qiddiya Investment group partnered to showcase the impressive lead car for Falcon’s Flight, which features an ornate falcon’s head, complete with glowing eyes, on the lead car.
Bobcat at The Great Escape
For their first new roller coaster in nearly two decades, Six Flags Great Escape in upstate New York unveiled the very ornate lead car for “The Bobcat,” a Gravity Group family wooden coaster opening at the park in 2024. Featuring Gravity Group’s Timberliner trains, Bobcat will take riders 50-plus feet in the air and through just over 1,500′ of track.
S&S Axis Lives!
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We finally have a location for the first-ever S&S Axis Coaster. Themed to the Transformers franchise and headed to the SEVEN FEC in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the S&S Axis features a 45mph launch, 360-degree rotating seats, two inversions, and traverses its compact layout twice throughout its course. The question for us of course, is when and where the first United States S&S Axis will pop up! (With a compact track layout like this, the options seem endless!)
Hot Wheels Twin Mill Racer
The long awaited Mattel Adventure park is getting closer and closer to opening, and Chance Rides had the highly-themed lead car for their Hyper GT-X model, Hot Wheels Twin Mill Racer, that will open at the park. True to form for anything Hot Wheels, the coaster will ride upon a bright orange track!
Another roller coaster headed to Six Flags Qiddiya is Colossus, a Great Coasters International wooden coaster with steel supports. The coaster will feature GCI’s new Infinity Flyer trains, which were designed by Skyline Attractions.