Thursday, August 18, 2022

IAAPA Expo 2021: Exploring Highlights and Exciting Developments

Making the MagicInsight & TrendsIAAPA Expo 2021: Exploring Highlights and Exciting Developments

The 2021 IAAPA Expo was held in Orlando, Florida, from November 15-19, 2021. The event displayed new rides, technologies, resources, and announcements to propel theme parks and themed experiences into the future.

IAAPA Expo 2021

There were more than 28,000 registered attendees and exhibitors at the 2021 IAAPA Expo, a massive showing after last year’s in-person event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s take a look at some of the things related to theme parks and themed experiences that were unveiled:

Disneyland ToonTown Renovation

At IAAPA, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, Josh D’Amaro announced that Disneyland’s Toontown would undergo a major renovation. As a result, Toontown will be closed for at least a year beginning in March 2022. Prior to the announcement, Disneyland had already started construction on Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride like the one in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Theme Park Obsession created a YouTube video, from Disneyland, that does a great job of explaining the changes:

Two New Dark Rides by Sally Dark Rides

Immersive attractions designer, Sally Dark Rides, unveiled two new dark rides, Treasure Hunt: The Ride and Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol.

Treasure Hunt: The Ride is being constructed at Cannery Row in Monterey Bay, California. Cannery Row isn’t a theme park, but rather a vacation destination with waterfront hotels, restaurants, museums, and boutiques. The standalone interactive dark ride will open in the cellar of a former canning factory in 2022.

Theme Park Insider shot some video from the show floor of IAAPA where a Sally Dark Rides representative describes Treasure Hunt: The Ride…

Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol is a new dark ride that will open at Lost Island Theme Park, which is a new theme park being built in Waterloo, Iowa. Lost Island Theme Park is a 90-acre park with five themed lands. The theme park is expected to be completed in 2022 at a cost of more than $100 million.

Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol will appear in the “Mura Fire Clan” land. Mura Fire Clan are spiritual warriors who protect the island from the fire god Volkanu. The dark ride ties into this theme. Volkanu: Quest for the Golden Idol is slated to open with the theme park.

This video by Coaster Studios captured the announcement of the ride at IAAPA:

The Haunting of Olivia

Steamroller Technologies introduced a new haunted immersive experience called, “The Haunting of Olivia.” Steamroller Technologies describes the experience as follows:

“This remarkable immersive mixed reality experience utilizing lighting, sound, and motion platform technology will awaken your senses as you encounter a soul who’s not yet quite ready to leave this world for the next.”

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a video of the experience courtesy of Attractions Magazine YouTube channel:

Good Day Orlando also did a news report on “The Haunting of Olivia” experience:

Peppa Pig Theme Park Inclusion Announcement

Merlin Entertainments announced that its new Peppa Pig Theme Park, opening on February 24, 2022, next to LEGOLAND Florida Resort, will be a “Certified Autism Center.” The certification comes from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). To be certified, 80% or more of the Pepa Pig Theme Park employees must undergo autism sensitivity and awareness training.

Merlin Entertainments also announced that its LEGOLAND Florida Resort theme park will also undergo the appropriate training to be a “Certified Autism Center.”

Both parks will have sensitivity guides to allow parents to understand sensory parameters on specific rides and attractions, allowing parents to know what to expect in advance.

Intamin Shows Off its Dome Ride Theater

For IAAPA, Intamin released a video of its Dome Ride Theater experience that promises to be an immersive ride like none other. Here’s the video:

Up to 80 people board the circular ride vehicle which can rotate and tilt in a fully enclosed sphere surrounded by video. Each seat offers a different view experience during the ride.

Touring the IAAPA Expo Show Floor

The Theme Park Hunting Youtube channel did a great job of creating a visual 8-minute recap of things happening on the show floor. If you didn’t make it to IAAPA Expo 2021, this is a great way to visualize the exhibit space and hear some of the press conference for Arieforce One.

IAAPA Expo Sessions

Every year, IAAPA offers an array of sessions and events providing further insight and education into all aspects of the amusement industry. Of interest, this year, to specifically theme parks and themed experiences were the following:

Legends 2021 – The Legends Behind The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman
Theme Park Magazine did an article on this event prior to it happening. The session had standing room only with some people being turned away. If you have some time to kill and want to see this informative session, then here’s a video of the entire session courtesy of Inside the Magic YouTube channel:

Other sessions included topics like:

Guest Experiences
Living Up to Today’s Consumer Expectations
The Impact of Great Guest Experiences
Providing Great Guest Experiences for All
Zoos and Aquariums Community Experiences
Diversity and Inclusion in Themed Entertainment
Using Technology to Enhance the Guest Experience
Creating a Pleasant Client Experience in a Post-Pandemic World
A Stimulating Experience – Excitement for Some, Anxiety for Others
How Meow Wolf Used Creativity, Technology, and Analytics to Provide a Mesmerizing Guest Experience

Attraction and Theme Park Safety
Emergency Action Plan – Just Do It
Park Operations and Maintenance in a Digital World
Best Practices to Help Prepare and Prevent Incidences

Attraction and Theme Park Marketing
The Rise of an Instagram-able Moment
Influencer Marketing: Growing Brand Super Fans

Halloween and Haunts
Fear Factors: Creating Terrifyingly Brilliant Guest Experiences
Integrating Interactivity in Halloween Events for Enhanced Immersion

Theme Park and Attraction Strategies
The Importance of Storytelling at Small Parks
Key Strategies for Opening a Facility that Thrives
A Neuro-Scientific Approach to Happiness at Attractions
The New Wave of Escape Rooms in a FEC’s Attraction Mix
Strategic Storytelling: The Art, Craft, and Science of Story
What Can Water Parks Learn From Theme Parks, and Vice Versa

Theme Park and Attraction Trends and Design
2021 Emerging Trends in Immersive Design
Revolutionizing the Future of Theme Park Design
Emerging Trends in FECs: Indoor Foam Dart Arenas
From Spectator to Participant: The New Paradime of Immersive Entertainment
Lessons Learned from Resilient Theme Parks and Attractions
Lessons Learned from Nearly 100 Years Within Parks and Attractions and Food & Beverage

IAAPA Expo 2021
IAAPA Expo 2021 was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Brass Ring Awards for IAAPA 2021 Exhibitors

IAAPA announced several 2021 Exhibitor Brass Ring Award winners from products, services, rides, and attractions exhibited at IAAPA. Here are some of the first-place winners:

Best New Product: Major Ride/Attraction – (more than $5 million)
Flying Launch Coaster (F.L.Y.)

Best New Product: Major Ride/Attraction – ($2 to $5 million)
Hyper Ride

Best New Product: Major Ride/Attraction – (less than $2 million)
Wiegand CoasterKart
Wiegand.Waterrides GmbH

Best New Product: Water Park Ride/Attraction
Launched Dueling Water Coaster
ProSlide Technology

Best New Product: Patron Participation Ride/Attraction
Lucky Putt
Creative Works

Best New Product: Technology Applied to Amusements – (used by consumers)
GoPod® Mobile

Best New Product: Technology Applied to Amusements – (used by facilities)
GoRoll Mobile

Best New Product: Prizes, Plush, and Retail Products
NXT Selfie Experience
NXT Capture

Best New Product: Games and Devices
Axe Master
Bay Tek Entertainment

Best New Product: Virtual Reality
VR Coaster GmbH & Co. KG

Best New Product: Exhibitions, Shows/Production, Theatrical Equipment and Supplies, Displays and Sets
Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall
Falcon’s Creative Group

Best New Product: Services, Equipment and Supplies
N-Flatables / Cutting Edge Creations
Watchdog Blower Siren

Best New Product: Best New Product Concept Award – (attraction)
Action League, the Interactive Revolution!

Best New Product: Best New Product Concept Award – (major ride/attraction)
Mack Rides GmbH & Co. KG
The Rocking Boat

Best New Product: Best New Product Concept Award – (other product/service)
Ka’ana Wave Co
CM7 Series – Deep Water Surf Machines

Impact Award Winner
Wiegand CoasterKart
Wiegand.Waterrides GmbH

Image Award Winner
Daniels Wood Land, Inc.

Images from IAAPA

The following images (along with our feature image) are courtesy of IAAPA.

IAAPA Expo 2021 Show Floor
A portion of the IAAPA Expo 2021 Show Floor.
Time Rider
Announced at a previous IAAPA Expo, Time Rider by Polin Waterparks, is an immersive waterslide with up to four different experiences.
Dino Don T-Rex
A T-Rex, courtesy of Dino Don, stands tall at IAAPA.
Brogent Technologies
Brogent Technologies shows off its V-Ride360 technology allowing guests to take a hot air balloon ride around the world.


This article barely scratches the surface when it comes to the announcements and events at IAAPA Expo 2021. The trade show attracted more than 870 companies that exhibited. IAAPA continues to shine as the leading theme park, amusement, and attractions industry trade show.

In a press release following the event, IAAPA President and CEO, Hal McEvoy, stated, “The successful turnout for IAAPA Expo 2021 is a testament to the resilience and continued growth and strength of the global attractions industry. It’s been a phenomenal week, bringing together the innovators who are moving our industry forward and building the future of attractions.”

See our Explore More section below for further insight into this year’s IAAPA Expo event.

Explore More: Videos

OrlanDave takes a look back at the IAAPA 2021 show floor happenings

Inside The Loop shares their opinion of the “Best of IAAPA Expo 2021”

TheTimTracker talks IAAPA 2021

CoasterBot talks about news from IAAPA 2021 with most the focus on Coasters

Time Rider – Polin Waterparks

Theme Park Worldwide covers IAAPA

Coaster Studios – LIVE from the IAAPA Show Floor

Huss Park Attractions Break Dance 5 Ride Unveiled at IAAPA 2021

Explore More: Resources

Sally Dark Rides
Steamroller Technologies
Peppa Pig Theme Park
Intamin Dome Ride Theater Page
Intamin Dome Ride Theater Brochure
Theme Park Obsession YouTube Channel
Theme Park Insider YouTube Channel
Coaster Studios YouTube Channel
Theme Park Hunting YouTube Channel
Inside the Magic YouTube Channel
Dino Don Dinosaurs
Brogent Technologies

Feature Image: The Haunting of Olivia attraction (courtesy of IAAPA)


What did you find most exciting (or interesting) from this year’s IAAPA Expo announcements? Tell us below or on our Facebook post.

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