IAAPA 2013 Round Up

The floor has closed for the season and once again the IAAPA has brought to light loads of exciting new stuff for the upcoming 2014 season. So here is a breakdown of the stuff that I am most excited for!

Sexy New Trains!

One trend I have noticed at this year’s expo was the reveal of lots of new designs for the 2014 coaster trains! We’ve got everything from a modern take on the runaway train with FireChaser Express at Dollywood, to a mini-Millennium flyer for Coastersaurus at LegoLand Florida to a sleek Tokyo Drift style front car for Lightning Run at the revamped Kentucky Kingdom! And amongst all this sexy newness we mustn’t also forget the Rocky Mountain Coaster designs popping up in Six Flags parks statewide demonstrating the perfect mash-up between traditional wood with a modern finesse allowing that maximum feeling of freedom for riders that RMC are now infamous for. 
Also revealed were the new El Loco trains by S&S featuring an on-board audio system (a trend slowly but surely catching on with parks outside of Disney and Universal!) and the ‘replacement SLC’ trains from Kumbak whose sole purpose it seems is to work with Vekoma to bring out the best in their coasters! I have to admit I’ve tried the Kumbak trains on Python at Efteling and the difference is ridiculous, the ride feels glass smooth which is a lot to say for a Vekoma of its age. Hopefully these trains will be the step towards   making SLCs the enjoyable experience they  deceivingly appear to be!
My favourite new train reveal though was the green Timberliners for Roar-o-saurus coaster currently under construction by Gravity Group at StoryLand in New Hampshire, check it out:

A Ton of New Coasters for China!

In an interview with Theme Park Review, Gravity Group announced that they would be installing four new rollercoasters in China beginning in the 2014 season with the first three and the fourth opening in the early months of 2015. These installations will be happening at Fantawild Zhuzhou, HotGo park in Shenyang and then a further two at different parks owned by the Fantawild chain in Jinan and Wuhu. A massive investment by Gravity Group in China that only adds to the massive coaster boom we’ve been witnessing in recent  years in China. With Disneyland Shanghai opening in 2015 as well all these new additions are making China a must-visit destination for me in the coming years, exciting stuff!

Cute New Flat Rides!

As opposed to previous years, there hasn’t been a ‘big’ new flat ride at IAAPA 2013 on the scale of say, Zamperla’s AIr Race which drew a lot of attention last year. There has however been a few ‘cute’ flat ride designs brought to my attention that I just adore!

Firstly, the mini-Tagada. Tagadas are just ridiculous fun, not so much now that health and safety INSISTS the things have seatbelts preventing hilarious throbbing pile-ups, but still a fun attraction nonetheless. This year’s expo showcased a junior model that I really hope parks pick up on, they’re probably the funniest flat ride out there. Every single one I’ve been on has resulted in side-splitting belly laughs and tears and if they’re that much fun for adults I can’t imagine what a joy children will find them. Really hoping to see a few of these pop up over the next season.

Secondly, and probably the more significant of the flat ride offerings at this year’s convention is the Drop ’n’ Splash brought to us by the lovely water-loving Germans over at Mack. The function of the ride reminds me a lot of X-Scream at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas that ends in a splash, it has that ‘see-saw’ motion to it which I think is totally ingenious! The use of this motion means the ride is compact and can be installed into parks taking up minimal space. I see it as a kind of introduction water ride for parks nervous of this kind of attraction as it presents a non-threatening and fun blend of the motion of a stereotypical funfair flat-ride with the thrill of the final splash. I really love this design, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to me as I’ve long been a fan of Mack’s quirky sense of design. I doubt we’ll see many of these popping up straight away but hopefully one will appear not too far away that I can have a go on.

Other things that have cropped up at this year’s expo include dark ride developments including trackless systems, robo-arm style rides and developments in interactive aspects of dark rides. I’m a massive fan of dark rides and it is really good to see these type of companies representing at IAAPA - hopefully names like Sally Corp will become as household to enthusiasts and B&M and more parks will invest in interactive dark ride experiences for their parks - it is something I’m dying to see and in my opinion can transform a park from just a good day out into an unforgettable one. Similarly, theming booths were represented in a big way perhaps hinting that more and more parks and becoming increasingly aware of the power of theming and that it takes more than just a great ride to provide a more holistic experience to theme park guests.

So that’s it for another year, I’ve really enjoyed reviewing the 2013 expo and the revelations have gotten me even more excited for the upcoming season!