Every year, I look forward to attending the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions expo, which takes over a nice portion of the Orange County Convention Center. They fill the enormous show floor for sneak peaks of what we can expect from the future of theme park industry. It ranges from rides to food to even metal shop work, which we love here at Media Mikes! You literally need a few days to even properly cover this event fully. I have covered this event for the last few years with my dad. He is a Mike also, so fits with the site also 🙂 It has become a fun tradition. We split the event and conqueror. Only true way to see everything in the short week! This year a highlight year for sure!
Virtual reality definitely was the spotlight for this year, no question. It seemed like every place you turn there was a new VR experience to try. VR isn’t really my bag, so we didn’t partake too much but I am excited to see what these amusement parks have planned for the future. One that comes to mind was HALOGATE VR EXPERIENCE. This was one that I did try and I literally was blown away. I can see this be a very popular attraction. One that I have been on previously and would not recommend is definitely the MaxFlight simulator. It is old tech and a VERY ROUGH ride! Stay away from that one for sure!
If VR isn’t your bag there was tons of other great options to see including the outdoor sky-flying attraction called Aerodium Wind Tunnel. I could see myself doing this for sure and it is very easy to setup for companies. I feel like these could pop-up very easily anyway. There was also the Phoenix Pro virtual driving Formula 1 Simulator by Wave Italy. This was rad. You are sitting in a mock Formula 1 car and you are surrounded by screens in front of you as you speed through courses. Very interactive and a ton of fun!
The absolute highlight of this year for me has to be the Infinity Massage Chair station. I found my newest love with the Infinity Riage X3, the “world’s best massage chair”. This chair uses 3D Technology giving a state of the art Reflexology Massage with a Zero Gravity experience including Spinal Decompression and deep tissue massage. If that isn’t enough it even has Bluetooth for music and can be controlled by iPad application. If you are wondering YES I did buy one of these at the show, no joke! It was an amazing purchase and I honestly plan on using it daily!
Other than rides, there were also some great companies advertising costumes like full My Little Pony characters. These were really sharp and I know my daughter would have loved this when she was younger for sure! Stopped by Apple Industries booth, which was actually smaller from previous years, and had some fun with the photo booths. There was a fun “Fear the Walking Dead” zombie interactive experience, which had quite the line but was a ton of fun! I also found a super fun Willy Wonka coin game that had be glued it to it for a longer than I want to admit. I wish I would have bought one of those also but my wife would have easily divorced me for sure 😉
In previous years, I didn’t get to hit enough panels each year but this year we were able to catch the SeaWorld panel and it was definitely promising. Having worked personally for the company in the past, I am excited to see everything that it has planned for the future. Infinity Falls at Aquatica is going to be an amazing new ride! This park has always been a favorite of mine and I am glad to see that it has big plans for the future. All the theme parks had presence. I spotted plenty of high profile people over the week. So I expect to see some of this new attractions and technologies in a theme park near you!
Besides buying a massage chair, the most fun I enjoy is walking the floor and meeting the vendors and having them talk about all the excited new technology that they are working with and what we can expect even for next year. This convention is worldwide and the companies that come from all over the world to showcase what they are currently working on. I love meeting all these great people and I love getting a chance to try out these new attractions. I can’t wait for 2018, which also happens to be the 100th anniversary for IAAPA! So I can imagine that next year is going to be bigger than ever! Till next November!
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