IAAPA’s Asian Attractions Expo - a showcase for the best in the theme park, attraction and themed entertainment industries - took place June 5th to 8th in Hong Kong, providing an opportunity for attendees to explore the enormous wealth of opportunity available for the industry in the region.
A packed seminar programme running alongside the trade show saw industry leaders including Ocean Park’s CEO Tom Mehrmann (below) and Hong Kong’s Disneyland’s Managing Director Andrew Kam ( below right) discuss the evolution of the theme park industry in Asia and its expected and potential growth in years to come.
Delegates were also treated to a number of special events put on by IAAPA, such as the evening trips to Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland, leading theme parks which in each case really pushed the boat out in welcoming the show’s visitors both to the island and to their own parks. With over 5,000 visitors, this year’s was the Asian Expo’s most successful show to date.
The show rotates between various Asian cities; last year the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo was in Singapore, the year before last Kuala Lumpur and next year it is back to Singapore. In holding the event this year in Hong Kong, IAAPA chose wisely; as one of the world’s leading financial centres and busiest cities, the city state has tremendous facilities, including the huge state-of-the-art Hong Kong Convention Centre, the site of the Asian expo on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island.
Most of Hong Kong’s terrain is mountainous and less than 25% of the city’s territory is developed. However, with a population of 7 million, it is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The skyscrapers are set against a backdrop of mountains covered with lush forests, making for a truly breathtaking spectacle and a stunning and fitting home for the attraction industry’s major Asian show.
On with the show
The trade show opened on the Tuesday morning . Leading theme park and attraction designer Jack Rouse Associates and renowned roller coaster company Vekoma Rides Manufacturing were among the sponsors.
After a lavish opening ceremony in which IAAPA’s VP Asia pacific Andrew Lee (right) welcomed us to the show and Roland Mack, IAAPA’s Chairman of the Board, officially cut the ribbon, the trade show opened and it was immediately apparent that this would be a busy year. With the US and European theme park industries showing at best cautious growth, the rich promise of Asia and China in particular meant that the show floor was extremely busy on the first two days and only slightly less so on the final day. The feedback from exhibitors – of which there were a record 274 - was overwhelmingly positive.
(For an image gallery of exhibitors and events click here: IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo Hong Kong 2012)
Feedback from Exhibitors at the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo
Polin Waterpark’s Sohret Pakis (above left) : “An immensely successful show for us. It offered a close-up glimpse into how quickly the region’s waterpark and attractions industry is growing, with lots of exciting new leads. The educational programs offered were thoroughly planned and very insightful. I hope everyone enjoyed the show as much as we did!”
Brett Salmon, CEO Attractions Audio Visual Ltd.: “We thought it to be a busy show, very well attended –looking forward to converting the many positive discussions into sales!”
S & S Worldwide’s Kevin Rohwer : “The show was fantastic. We gave out in the first 2-hours the same amount of literature as we gave last year in all three days. Thanks to IAAPA for a great show, event and opportunity. The show was 100% worth our time and investment”.
Wyeth Tracy, Empex Watertoys : “fantastic show”.
Anthony Stubbs, Animalive: “A lot of strong leads and good 'at-show' meetings. I also thoroughly enjoyed all of the events, with Ocean Park being a highlight.”
Timothy D. Swieter, Birket Engineering: "I've attended five IAAPA Asias now, this one is the best one yet".
Tony Whittaker, Elton Games/ Nicco Parks: “The quality of visitors was first class and the evening events of a high standard especially at Ocean Park.”
Brad Alexander, LCI Productions: “People we spoke to had real projects on the go and we are looking forward to doing a lot more work in Asia.”
Sanderson Group’s Luke Riley thought, “This year’s quality of leads was up on last year, with China being the main source of queries.”
Exhibitors came from across the world and included KCC Entertainment Design, Lo-Q, Mirage Entertainment, Neptune-Benson, Alterface, Triotech, Vortex Aquatic Structures, Waterplay Solutions, Arihant, ProSlide, Semnox, Premierworld, Showtime Entertainment , Simtec, Splashtacular, thejuice, d’strict, Dynamic Motion Rides, eibe, Electrosonic, Emotion Media factory, FUNA, Gary Goddard Entertainment, Sanderson Group, Gateway Ticketing, Haystack Dryers, Simworx, Huss Park attractions, Industrial Frigo, Interlink LG, Jora Vision, nWave, Omniticket, Pax, Whitewater West and Zierer.
Ocean Park, Disneyland and the world's 4th tallest building
As with all successful trade shows, the booths and exhibitors are only part of the story. Owners and operators from attractions across the world were in attendance looking for the best products and services and the latest innovations. In the evenings the social functions were a great success. The venue for the Young professional’s party was breathtaking – The Sky 100 Bar at the top of the worlds 4th highest building with stunning views over Hong Kong and neighbouring islands.
The following two nights saw hugely successful and well attended events with first Ocean Park and then Hong Kong Disneyland laying on lavish welcome receptions and really looking to showcase the very best of their parks to the visiting industry professionals. Each park really made us feel very welcome indeed and if there was an element of competition involved this only served to ensure that each really did throw an extravagant and memorable party, leaving everyone in absolutely no doubt that both parks were at the top of their game.
Each played to their strengths. Whist Disney felt a little more practised and smooth, with the iconic castle and globally recognised brands (Toy Story Land was gorgeous), Ocean Park was maybe more “real”, feeling more Chinese and having perhaps firmer roots in Hong Kong itself. Highlights for me were the spectacular Symbio show at Ocean Park and the Hair Raiser roller coaster seemingly set on the edge of a mountain. The feast at Hong Kong Disneyland was incredible and the cast members in Toy Story Land were amazing, especially the troop of green soldiers complete with square plastic feet.
2013 Asian Attractions Expo in Singapore
IAAPA also ran a successful seminar programme in which delegates heard from a variety of industry leaders and experts on key issues and developments affecting the theme park and attractions sector. Ocean Park’s Tom Mehrmann, Mario Mamon, President Enchanted Kingdom, Philippines and Darrell Metzger, Director, Themed Attractions and Resorts, gave an overview of developments and major projects across the region, Metzger focussing on Malaysia and Mehrmann looking at Hong Kong. The following day saw Jayne Leung (left), Facebook Director for Northern Asia, Vivian Lee, Marketing Director Ocean Park, Dave Aicken, CEO Centryc and myself look at social media and the impact it is having on marketing and the relationship between operators and visitors.
On the Friday evening the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) had a well attended drinks event at which we were able to reflect on a busy and exciting week. With staggering growth in Asia in the theme park sector coupled with almost unparalleled potential for future growth as the region’s vast middle classes continue to expand, Asia right now is the place to be and for this industry, this is THE show. Get ready for Singapore next year.