Ten Cool Companies That Rocked the IAAPA Conference

Games GeekMom
IAAPA conference attendees enjoying an interactive game at the Expo
IAAPA conference attendees enjoying an interactive game at the Expo

IAAPA Attractions Expo, owned and produced by International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, is the world’s largest conference and trade show for the $24 billion global attractions industry. The future rides, attractions, games, and products of the world’s theme parks and attractions are well represented at this weeklong conference.  Between November 14 and November 18, 2011, approximately 25,800 amusement park and attractions industry professionals from 118 nations gathered in Orlando, Fla. for the IAAPA Conference.

The Exhibition hall seemed as large as a small city and hosted over 1,000 vendors from around the world. Vendors sprawled over 447,474 trade show floor space and over 47,000 square feet of outdoor space. Everything you could possibly image (and some things you can’t) relating to theme parks was represented at this amazing conference. There were probably more bounce house vendors at the conference than there are plumbers in New York City!

There were so many cool, geeky products, games, rides, and novelties to review that it was extremely difficult to narrow the list to just ten. In the end, these ten products had a cool factor that left me with a glow long after the event.

  1. Daniels Wood Land Intricately chainsaw carved redwood stumps might be how Daniels Wood Land started, but the company has a jaw-dropping portfolio of projects for themed entertainment around the globe. Daniels Wood Land artists have backgrounds in movie effects and cut, shape, mold, and paint foams and coatings to make breathtakingly authentic props. My favorite is the life sized car prop carved from foam, painted with auto paint, and fitted with working lights and trim.

    Javier Soto and Andy Dauterman of Daniels Wood Land
    Daniels Wood Land employees, Javier Soto and Andy Dauterman, posing with the creature they helped create.
  2. SimEx!IWerks is the leading entertainment company specializing in 3-D and 4-D cinematic experiences. Although I visited numerous competitors at the IAAPA conference, the Great Escapes, Life in 4-D movie was highly immersive and my favorite overall. The quality of the 3D was so realistic, I felt like I was in the movie! Other awesome 4-D films I enjoyed in the SimEx!IWerks display area were Dora and Diego’s 4-D Adventure and Happy Feet: Mumble’s Wild Ride.

  3. Accesso On the geekier side, I couldn’t help but hunt down some industry RFID gurus. Accesso had the most impressive RFID implementation of any of the vendors I sought. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips use radio waves to transfer data to a reader to identify and track the object. Accesso has built a complete solution that can be embedded in a wrist band that streamlines park purchases, ticketing, and even controls the theme park experience itself. The coolest use, I think, is an RFID wristband that interacts with a museum exhibit to deliver age-appropriate content or content the viewer has not yet experienced. Awesome.

    Accesso's RFID wristband
    Accesso's RFID wristband
  4. Open Air Cinema Imagine a giant inflatable movie screen in your back yard with high definition audiovisuals. The Cinebox HD Home starts at 9 feet wide and the elite system is available in widths up to 40+ feet! This would be awesome for fundraisers, family reunions, or community events.

    Open Air Cinema
    Open Air Cinema inflatable theatre system
  5. Industrial Frigo ice makes portable ice rinks. According to Filippo Gervasini, Head of International Sales, Industrial Frigo created a 1 km ice trail in Italy in five days and can set-up rinks in any environment.

    Industrial Frigo ice
    Industrial Frigo ice mobile and permanent installations
  6. Apple Industries Wedding Booth is geeky. Rent the booth for your wedding and let the wedding party and guests take their own photos in the booth. The resulting photos are made up of all the photos taken during the day.  The coolest part is that you can custom theme a booth to fit your own event.

    Wedding Booth photo
    Picture of pictures from Apple Industries' Wedding Booth
  7. Fairy Dust Ltd. is an awesome company with a simple but fun approach to kids’ hygiene. Using clever presentations, names, and the DIY spirit, Fairy Dust products are packaged and dispended in food and science lab-themes. Boys and girls will love the eyeballs, fingers, skeletons, and other “lab specimens” in the make your own gels. The bright sugar scrub sherbet “flavors” orange, raspberry, and lime look good enough to eat. Fairy Dust Ltd. will even work with vendors to create custom themed products.

    Fairy Dust Ltd Mad Lab Bath Gel
    Fairy Dust Ltd. can create fun bath products around any theme, but the Mad Lab is cool!
  8. nWave and Media Mation work together to create and distribute interactive attraction technologies.  David Taylor, a senior programmer with Media Mation, created the programming to control the simulator experience for The Little Prince, a 3-D fantasy film. The story is magnificent, the graphics and colors are stunning, and the experience is very immersive.

    The Little Prince
    The Little Prince
  9. Legoland. The Legoland dark ride’s very cool animatronics skeleton band from the Legoland dark ride was on display at the conference and delightfully entertaining. It was a treat to see the display up-close after having had a glimpse of them on the ride itself at Legoland Florida.

    Legoland Skeleton Band
    Legoland Skeleton Band
  10. Peavey Marvel branded youth guitars. In spite of the fact that Peavey systems control large portions of major theme parks and attractions, it is also marketing Marvel branded guitars. On display, I saw a half-size Peavey acoustic guitar featuring the Marvel Super Heroes, a few three-quarter size Peavey electric guitars and even a full-size Peavey Rockmaster® electric guitar. There are even Peavey Marvel branded guitar picks and straps featuring the Marvel Super Heroes!


The IAAPA Conference is a unique opportunity to get a sneak peek into what is up-and-coming in the entertainment and theme park industry. The IAAPA conference is a must for industry pros but plenty of families braved the crowds with their little ones for a day of total immersion. If you find yourself in Orlando, Florida next November 12-16, get your IAAPA tickets and escape to the mad, wonderful, one-of-a-kind entertainment show like none other in the world.


Liked it? Take a second to support GeekMom and GeekDad on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!