IAAPA 2018 Most Exciting Bits

Once again the floor of the massive IAAPA attractions show over in sunny Florida has closed for the year and rumours and discussion boards are once again thriving as the ever secretive themed attractions industry has thrown us ride geeks a few choice tasty news morsels to gnaw upon over the long, dark closed season. I thought I'd do something slightly different than my usual round up this year. There is just so much damn new stuff that comes out of this show every year and because the themed attractions sector is so bloody large nowadays there's no point me going into every little detail of every single thing announced or showcased at the show. It's actually kind of cool to see how far this expo has become - from water slides to gaming to VR to theme parks to food and beverage to everything else in between, it's only when you see all this stuff showcased in one place altogether that you realise just how expansive the industry has become.

But yes, this year I'm just going to focus on stuff that I personally am excited about. Like, I'm sure there's an Inflatables & Ice-Cream blog somewhere that's written a whole report all about the giant poop emoji inflatable, but I'm just going to stick to the things that made me go OOOH and smash the RT button whilst scrolling through #IAAPA on Twitter. Honestly, IAAPA 2018 hasn't been full to the brim with exciting newness. I guess that's the thing with the internet and how good enthusiasts are at snooping in this day and age - it's super hard to keep things secret so a lot of companies choose not to keep their big reveals until the event. Totally makes sense. But that's not to say there wasn't stuff to get excited about, so let's get stuck in!

I think this little number from Dynamic Attractions is a step up with regards to creating a truly immersive, fully themed rollercoaster. So far, no amount of theming and trying to write the track into the narrative of a coaster could really disguise from the fact that ultimately, you are on a rollercoaster. The track and hardware is a dead giveaway. What Dynamic Attractions have done here with the Dual Power Coaster is design it in such a way that the hardware is disguised as road, meaning a fully immersive 'racing' themed coaster is possible and fully believable as 'not-a-coaster'.

They've already sold one to open in Malaysia in 2019, but this is absolutely the kind of thing one could imagine popping up in the Nintendo Land coming to Universal Studios at some time in the near future - a massive plus for someone like me who was envisioning this to be achieved by some kind of AR tech - much prefer this real life version! So yh, the coaster can essentially emulate all the real feelings of a race car - the speed, the airtime, the drifting, the spin-outs. I feel like this thing is going to ride like Test Track on crack and I cannot bloody wait!

I'll be honest...I totally forgot that Port Aventura had announced they were even getting a dark ride for 2019 so I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out that the massive Big Bird animatronic from Sally Rides was to be found this side of the pond (my first thought was that it might be going to Sea World as part of their Sesame Street retheme of their kiddie land!)
Sally are known for their slightly more cartoonish style when it comes to animatronics and theming so I'm glad Port Aventura have gone with them for this project. Animatronics that move to realistically kind of scare me slightly, and I was not prepared for the puppets of Sesame Street to feel like they could come to life and carry me off kicking and screaming, so I'm pleased with the more 'old school' feel of this one - excited to see how the rest of the dark ride turns out.

Right so, I'm all for sexy themed trains. The Time Traveller train reveal from last year's show had me positively drooling and I adore the sleek designs of something like Lightning Rod at Dollywood. But let's face it - theme parks are garish and tacky and I adore a design that doesn't pretend to be anything but that. Enter S&S and Kennywood with their train design for Steel Curtain debuting at the park in 2019. It kind of reminds me of 'The Homer' car that Homer designs in The Simpsons - it's so clunky and awkward that it kind of works in an adorable 'you tried' kind of way.

It's so cute! It's such a boy toy - we made a coaster and themed it to our favourite sports team - GO SPORTS! Like it literally looks like it was modelled after bleachers at a football stadium. Shiny, tacky and plastic. I'm also not adverse to a design where you can see a little more of the undercarriage if you know what I mean? This is a project I'm really excited to follow over the closed season as the layout is absolutely mad, and from the exposure allowed by these train designs I think Steel Curtain is really going to deliver.

OK so this is a bit of a weird one because I'm going to start off by saying I am not a fan of these trains. I've not been short of praising Vekoma's recent work and I've been watching the internet like a hawk for any hint of new detail about the elusive Guardians of the Galaxy coaster they're building in EPCOT. Then we get this. Ahem. So firstly - surely I'm not the only one who's getting serious SCOOP/EVAC vibes from this thing? I get that there's not exactly tons you can do with a ride vehicle but I was expecting slightly more. And then the video of how it rides - after months of Disney ploughing the hype for this what we essentially have is Disney's version of Gringotts. I've grown accustomed to seeing Disney as being innovative so I couldn't help but feel a little disheartened to see what was essentially an unoriginal idea (no matter how they try to spin it - pardon the pun!)

BUT that said, this slight set-back in my excitement has gotten me thinking - what the hell are Disney planning to actually do to elevate this? They KNOW better than anyone that Potter needs to be contended with, so I refuse to believe they're simply going to build their own version of a ride that exists a few minutes down the road. No no. They have something obscene up their sleeves, I can feel it. 

Oh good lord - I audibly gasped when I lay eyes on this beauty. I had wondered how long it would take the other woodie manufacturers to start to roll out their own RMC style designs and it looks like we're finally starting to see the fruits of what an impact RMC have had on the design landscape for wooden coasters going forwards. And urgh, GCI have smashed it from the looks of this wonderful model. The first drops are obscenely steep, which I absolutely adore on a wooden coaster. The inversions look snappy and fun and not too indulgent or trying to do what RMC have already perfected which I appreciate.

I wasn't the only one to think this model was based on the layout of the currently SBNO Gwazi GCI duelling coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, but I've since been told that this was just a huge coincidence and the model is more just intended to showcase how GCI are adapting their designs for the future and highlighting what they're capable of doing. Please somebody snap one of these up, pronto!

And finally the piece du resistance - remember a while back when it was announced that Parc Asterix would be getting an Intamin multi-launch thing some time in the future? Well Intamin casually announced their new LSM triple-launch half-pipe madness coaster of dreams on the final day of IAAPA 2018 and fuck me this thing looks absolutely ridiculous. We all know Intamin are the absolute king when it comes to delivering ass-kicking airtime, and this yet-to-be-named design promises to deliver no less than TWENTY FUCKING THREE airtime moments!

And if that wasn't enough, it's got the fabulous ground hugging action that we adore on Taron, three inversions including an inverted airtime hill and a switch track section without a pause (not gunna lie, shitting myself about that last element ever so slightly!) Basically I'm fully ready to die on this coaster and I have absolutely no regrets about it. I do hope the red colouring was for display purposes only and Asterix go with something slightly sexier but all in all from this design we could very well have a new world's-best-coaster on our hands, and it'll only be five hours away from me yay.

So tell me - did you follow the updates from IAAPA this year? What announcement are you most gagged for?

Talk later xoxo,