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Here are some insights, stories, tips and other bits and pieces from a former Disney Imagineer.  I hope you enjoy the reading!

Insights, Thoughts and Ramblings From a Former Imagineer...

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Favorite Products and Final Thoughts from IAAPA 2015

By Brian~WDWithMe, Nov 22 2015 07:33PM

I’ve been attending the IAAPA trade show off and on for about 25 years now. For those not familiar, IAAPA is the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. It’s the largest international trade association of its members, from more than 90 countries including professionals from: Amusement parks, theme parks, and attractions, Family entertainment centers, Museums and science centers, Water parks and resorts, Zoos and aquariums, and Industry manufacturers and suppliers. In other words, they’re in the business of fun…and IAAPA’s annual Orlando trade show is where the biggest in the industry go to showcase their newest and best products, network with each other, do some business and recognize excellence.

Let me tell you, by the look of IAAPA’s show this year, fun has never been more serious.

So in terms of some of the fun, favorite…and particularly innovative things I saw, let me present, in no particular order, the following:

o A 3D printer that makes gummy candy! European candy company Katjes has teamed up with entrepreneur Melissa Snover, founder of her own organic candy company “Goody Good Stuff”, to create a 3D printer called “The Magic Candy Factory”. It’s yummy—and the first of it’s kind. Hopefullly we’ll be seeing these here in the USA sooner than later.

o Triotech, a leading creator of multi-sensory attractions, has partnered with LEGOLAND® to create a ground-breaking new dark ride using their proprietary Maestro hand-gesture technology giving guests a unique form of interaction not found on any other attraction. By using hand gestures, guests can throw fireballs, ice, or any number of other items into the 3D action, allowing them the ability to engage and control the outcome of their adventure.

o The Giant, a new visitor attraction featuring a museum, which upon the roof stands the world’s largest moving sculpture. Towering 10 to 20 stories tall, The Giant is a large androgynous figure inlaid with thousands of LED lights allowing it to instantly transform into any person, including those who visit this groundbreaking attraction. Plans are for The Giant to be situated in 20 cities around the world, each offering a unique, engaging experience focusing on the great men and women of each city and country.

o Sometimes, it’s the simple things that catch your eye. That was the case with Illuminated Water, out of Australia. Illuminated water is “illuminated” by means of their patented water bottle which integrates the only LED illumination system like it in the world. Press the button at the bottom and your water bottle lights up (and, if you prefer, blinks…) in one of six different colors: blue, red, green, orange, pink, and white. A simple idea, but one that certainly catches your eye and is actually quite pretty to look at. Illuminated Water is represented in the U.S. and other global markets by Darren Hagen who also happens to be a champion USAC Sprints & Midgets race car driver! He and his wife Candice are incredibly charming and obviously entrepreneurial as they have an eye on the future and beyond the track.

So there you have it—some of the things which stuck out to me at #IAAPA2015. What is always apparent whenever I visit this show is that although there certainly are many large, impressive new products on display, true innovation is really far and few between. Immersive 3D rides are impressive, but they have now been around for several years. The challenge then, is how do you not only take these experiences to the next level, but do something completely fresh and new. When I taught a course in “Product Development for Theme Parks”, that was the challenge I put to my students. As I always say, if you do the same thing as everyone else, you’re just going to be like everyone else.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that the themed entertainment industry is a wonderful one to work in—but yes—it demands innovation perhaps more than any other I can think of. On that note, I’ll leave you one last exciting announcement that, in my opinion, was exactly what the industry needs:

o Dynamic Attractions announced they will be opening an Attractions Development Center in Orlando. For those not familiar, Dynamic Attractions is a subsidiary of Empire Industries, a powerhouse Canadian steel company. Dynamic originally leveraged their engineering and steel industry knowledge to create many of the theme park industry’s most recognizable roller coasters, rides and attractions around the world. This new 32,000 square foot Attractions Development Center, however, will take that level of service and expertise to a new level. Inside, clients will find an ‘experience’ studio with fully operational rides, as well as an ‘Imagination Think Tank’ for the company’s attractions designers and theme design partners. A truly collaborative environment, Dynamic Attractions staff, coupled with their world-class clients, will have a unique facility focused on conceptualizing and inventing the next generation of media-based, interactive attractions.

Now that sounds like my kind of place…

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