IAAPA - 3 days of insanity

Associated parks:

I headed down from Atlanta on Tuesday night for my 3rd IAAPA show. My first visit in 2001, was overwhelming. I only had one day there, and was completely blown away. Last year, I was there from beginning to end, and saw every game, food sample, ride, and money counter on the show floor.

This year was completely different. Instead of rushing to see everything, I relaxed, checked out the cool stuff from word of mouth, visited friends, and met some of the coolest people EVER!

After arriving to the show on Wed morning, I headed to the Virtual Image Productions booth to see what Joe and Keith were up to. Of course Joe had already ridden and seen everything, so I got the lowdown, and headed off towards DiskO, the new Zamperla attraction.

DiskO was AWESOME! Imagine a large version of a Rockin' Tug, combined with PKI's Delerium. The seats face outwards, and are extremely comfortable. The restraints are not claustrophobic, and the ride gives just the right amount of intensity so that it's not TOO intense (see Eclipse comments below).

After stopping by the Amusement Business booth to see Adam and get my Nov 17th issue featuring me (well, I'm not featured, but I am pictured riding the Wacky Worm on pg 23), Joe and I headed to the ACE booth to check out the museum display and see who had arrived so far. After making plans to meet up with Sean later, we headed back to the VIP booth and got some rest and food!

It was nice not feeling rushed to see everything at the show this year. Once I met back up with Sean, we walked the floor taking in some of the new sights, including the awesome new Maurer Sohne trains and layouts.

We ventured out onto the Magical Midway, where we met the Eclipse for the first time. I can't remember the generic name of this ride, but most quickly referred to it as the frying pan. This is one of the most intense rides I've been on, and not the good kind of intense (at least for me). There were points I thought my brain was going to be pulled out of the back of my head becasue of the positive g's.

We also hit up the new open face Tilt a Whirl, which was being run way too slow, and the ARM drop tower. This drop tower was unique, as it slowly rose to the top, and didn't give you any time to think before it dropped you. It seemed more intense than the model that was there last year.

The show closed for the day, so after walking to my car and a quick change, 7 of us were off on a mission to ride the Dania Beach Hurricane! Yes, we drove the 3 hours to Ft. Lauderdale to get 1 hour of rerides on the DBH. Rides did not dissappoint, and airtime was all over, especially in the first 3 rows. This trip was completely surreal, including Joe's battle with a flag, young flashing lesbians who "beat us off", and a McDonalds employee telling us "don't get smart"!

Thursday came all too soon, and the floor was packed. First thing of the day was trying out those awesome Maurer Sohne restraints. They are U-shaped, and fold over your waist very comfortably. They rotated us upside-down to see how they felt, and it was great. These restraints are much less claustrophobic than others, yet provide a genuine sense of security knowing there's no way you'll get out of them.

As we were waiting for more rides on DiskO, something surreal happened. I mentioned to Sean that I hadn't met Jeff Putz before, and if he saw him to introduce us. It seems as though I'm always in the same place at the same time, but our paths never have crossed. Well, we turned around a Jeff was right in front of us! After chatting with him and Stephanie, they made their way off to check out the new stuff as they were only there for the day.

The rest of the day was spent checking out foot massagers, Dippin Dots, mechanical bulls, inflatables, an oxygen bar, and many of the other interesting sites that can only be combined at IAAPA. This is what makes this convention so fun, is that you run into the most unlikely combination of products ever. Where else would an inflatable slip n slide be found next to an oxygen bar (except maybe Vegas)?

After dinner that evening, I was out for the night, and slept good as Friday was going to be a long day for me. Not only id I have another full day at the show, I also wanted to go to Old Town before heading back to Atlanta.

After arriving at the show, I met up with Sean and Jodi, and we decided to head over to Old Town to check out the new G-Force launched attraction. Upon arriving at Old Town, they were having a funeral service, and the place seemed rather morbid. It made you almost not want to be there.

After the service, the rides opened, and we were granted out free ACE ride on the Windstorm, a new credit for me. Jodi and I rode in the back, and got very close in that drop off the midcourse. Unfortunately, after that point the ride kind of fizzled out and rode fairly slowly through the rest of the course.

G-Force finally was ready, and we hopped in for our 0-110 launch in 2 seconds (or something insane like that). For our 2 rides, I won both times (take THAT Jodi). My first launch was 112 mph with a .19 second reaction time. The 2nd one was 113 mph with a .15 reaction time. It's a very exhilirating ride, but I definately prefer Top Thrill Dragster's launch, mostly due to the wind in your face factor that G-Force doesn't give you because the cars have windshields. Another thing, if you are a male, be prepared for an uncomfortable stop in the groin area. That 5th point of the 5-point harness could have been left out in my book.

After Old Town, it was back to the show for some last minute browsing. It was really a great time, and I met some awesome people that radiated insane amounts of energy. I found myself laughing uncontrollably (most notably with Alan C. on one of the inflatables) many times, which can only happen around good peeps! If you missed the show and have any questions, let me know (just don't ask me who bought what, because I have NO idea).

By the way, Sean, I am not a hispanic woman.

-Matt D.
Jeff's avatar
This is the fourth year I've been and I don't know and the show gets less interesting every year (though I hate trade shows to begin with).

There is quite a bit of innovation to be seen in a lot of areas, but not rides. Zamperla's Disko was easily the star of the show in terms of rides. If I was Huss, I'd be a little nervous that someone else has a ride that offers nearly the same sensation as their new outward-facing Frisbee.

It was neat to see The Gravity Group at the show, though their tiny booth was a little crowded for those four guys. They were showing the model and video for their "Splinter" ride concept, which offers an inexpensive alternative to traditional dark ride systems. Of course, you know the prototype as LoCoSuMo. I have high hopes for them!

It was good to see Stern Pinball still putting out new machines (Lord of The Rings this year). I think the "finger maze" game that Namco was showing is bound to be a hit too.

The interesting point in food setups is a serious emphasis on capacity. It seemed that everyone who offered equipment was pushing the number of units per hour over all other features.

It was interesting to see the haunt vendors there in force this year, though I never did stop to find out what exactly happened that they didn't get their own floor section as was originally planned.

It's hard to say since it was in the new building (which officially "opened" Saturday, go figure), but it did appear overall that a higher percentage of floor space was booked over last year. That's encouraging for the industry as a whole.

Other than some of those subtle points, it was pretty much the same old show in terms of what vendors were offering. Obviously the true value in the show for the long term is the networking aspect of it, for buyers, sellers and even wannabes like me. I was surprised by the number of people I didn't know (not to mention their positions in the industry) that were regular visitors to CB. That's a lot of pressure!

Of course, what makes the show most worth the trip for me is that it's in Orlando. It'll be hard to justify it when it goes back to Atlanta.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Hey Matt...just what the heck is the eclipse anyhow? you failed to give us a description in your TR so we have no idea what you're talking about.

As for disk-o it looks really intense,at least the pics screamscape sure made it look that way,the structure looks very much like that of the hammerhead stall or halfpipe,but the actual vehicle looks more like a cross between a chaos wheel & a Huss giant frisbee.

The Eclipse is a Fabbri Contact. Here's a link to some photos:

Fabbri Contact Pics

It has free spinning cars that plaster you to the backs at certain points in the ride. It was VERY intense, but almost too intense for my tastes. I prefer rides that have flipping motions.

**edited to fix link
*** Edited 11/23/2003 11:28:43 PM UTC by Matt D***

-Matt D.
Hey Matt! I forgot about the battle of the flag and that McDonald's drive thru person. That was hilarious! Had a good time at IAAPA and DBH also.
Hmmm. I'm surprised the Eclipse was so intense. I walked right by it 3-4 times at our Fair and didn't even bother. I guess looks can be deceiving...

-'Playa *** Edited 11/24/2003 3:38:14 AM UTC by CoastaPlaya***

NOTE: Severe fecal impaction may render the above words highly debatable.

The problem with the Contact is that it just isn't comfortable. The restraints are too loose and it really throws you around between them and the seat back. A tighter-fitting restraint would make it a far better ride, and would seriously reduce the beating it currently gives.


Did the same thing Mr. Obvious.

We had one at a carnival in Illinois and didn't bother. Of course, alot of these carnivals are purchasing some wicked rides so I guess riding them should be a given.

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

Excellant report!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"We had one at a carnival in Illinois and didn't bother."

Are you talking about the Contact/Eclipse? If so, then you didn't ride one at an Illinois fair. The only one in the states is owned by McDonagh Amusements and has only played the State Fair of Texas, Minnesota State Fair and IAAPA so far. If this wasn't what you were talking about then never mind my post :).


Well, I don't know if it was a Contact/Eclipse persay, but by the pic from the link above, a carnival in Illinois had a ride pretty similar to it.

I am not to educated on flat rides, but the ride I saw was pretty close.

My favorite MJ tune: "Billie Jean" which I have been listening to alot now. RIP MJ.

Now I know what you're talking about...thanks for the pics to refresh my memory.

I had seen this ride before on some other site & it does look insane...it seems to be like a tilt a whirl on steroids,I wouldn't mind seeing one of these added to either PKD or SFA in the future as both parks could use a good flat ride such as this.


It was great hanging out with you again. While I was pretty busy at the show, I am glad the time I did get to walk the floor was with people who knew what to check out.

G-Force is incredible. That acceleration is by far the strongest I have felt, even though it wasn't running past 120mph.

Disk-O was incredible. Eclipse I could pass if offered another ride. With two riders it was very violent. With four riders it was very, very intense. Almost too much.

I am so glad you talked me into going to ride the Dania Beach Hurricane. That has to be one of the most underrated coasters out there. It reminded me of Ghostrider in a way, and who can forget about the flag incident as well as those two girls that were "playing" with each other. The trip down and back was fun as well. Brett, it was nice talking with you for more than 3 minutes.

I will admit, I was a bit nervous going into this show with everything that has happend this year but by the end of the show, I saw more support than ever.

I think next year is going to be a good year for parks from some of the news that was floating around.


You may have seen an ARM Touchdown in the past. I rode one of these at a fair in GA a few months ago, and it wasn't anywhere near the intensity of the Contact/Eclipse

Yeah, I think my 4 rides on the Eclipse caused some brain damage, but maybe it got reversed byt he outward facing Disk'O. I can justify anything. By the way, you got me interested in NoCoaster, when I had no intention of going before! We'll have to see how the job situation comes along in the next month as to whether or not I can go.

I had a theory about the rides at IAAPA over the past few years. It seems as though there were a lot of rides booked at the show in Atlanta in 2000, but that number has dwindled since. I know business has been slower, but could it also have something to do with the show being in Orlando? I mean, why should these manufacturers cart their rides to IAAPA when places like Old Town already have their attractions on display? Could I be right, or am I just a conspiracy theorist?

-Matt D.
Jeff's avatar
Location has nothing to do with it. The business is what it is. There has been a great deal of consolidation between ride manufacturers since 2000... Chance-Morgan, S&S-Arrow and some smaller ones. Then there have been a few that have disappeared entirely, like CCI.

The growth area for the industry, in my opinion, is in the haunted attraction arena, not rides.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I guess I was just over-analyzing the whole situation (I had a long drive back from Orlando).

As far as the haunt craze goes - I think that we may see a lot of those animatronic figures replace some of the live actors at upcoming haunt events. A combination of the two would definately spice things up, and probably help the parks bottom line.

I also think that we haven't seen the tip of the iceberg as far as waterpark installations go. I think we are going to see those little water playgrounds everywhere - from the big themers to FECs. Bring on the MasterBlasters!
**edited for grammer & spelling
*** Edited 11/25/2003 4:38:03 AM UTC by Matt D***

-Matt D.
Jeff's avatar
Did you see how much some of those animated guys cost? The electric chair guy is $15k!

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

rollergator's avatar
But Jeff, his salary is so low it's *shocking*....:)
WHOA! I didn't relize they con't that much, but they could be used for multiple seasons, and would elminiate the hiring, training, and other processes involved in the Halloween events. I know that KNott's gets a bunch of regulars working their haunt, but USF is always looking for people to staff HHN each year.

Speaking of the animatronics, did you see the one of the guy vomiting into a trash can? That was downright obscene!

-Matt D.

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