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IAAPA Attractions Expo showcases the spectacular and the surreal

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IAAPA Attractions Expo showcases the spectacular and the surreal

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What can one say about IAAPA's Attractions Expo? Let's start with Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' annual conference & trade show is big. Scarily big. So big that it fills the entire North / South Building at the Orange County Convention Center. Which has nearly a million square feet of exhibit space.

And once you walk out onto the exhibition floor ... Words honestly can't describe the experience. It's simultaneously enchanting and overwhelming. You see things that you never ever thought that you'd see. Like what? Well, how about an animatronic stallion seated on the back of a cowpoke who then sings Big & Rich's "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy) ?"

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or -- better yet -- half of an audio animatronic Egyptian. Who -- as he's showing off his state-of-the-art engineering & wiring -- performs Steve Martin's "King Tut" routine.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Everywhere you look, there are these spectacular utterly impossible things. Full-sized rides, shows & attractions like this amazing three story climbing structure ...

Photo by Nancy Stadler

And yet who's trying these things out? Not teens or tourists. But -- rather -- middle aged businessmen in three-piece suits. Who look truly surreal as they solemnly sample each ride, then -- after straightening their ties -- move on to the next booth on the exhibition floor.

"What's the best part of IAAPA?," you ask. The sneak peeks of things that will soon be popping up a theme park near you. Take -- for example -- Flogo's lighter-than-air enviromentally-friendly soap sud shapes. Which are supposed to begin floating over the Walt Disney World Resort sometimes in 2009.

Hmmn. Where have I seen that shape before?
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or -- better yet -- how about an up-close look at something that will never be? Like this achingly-beautiful concept painting for an utterly-impossible-to-build "Lost Worlds of Jules Verne" theme park.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

You can find something for everyone at IAAPA. Nightmarish fantasy creatures -- like this 17 foot-tall animatronic Pumpkin King pictured below -- that will haunt your dreams.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or huge beasts from our distant past.

One of the creatures pictured here is a large, slow-moving
mammal. And the other is an inflatable mammoth
Photo by Nancy Stadler

Look for a more detailed report on what went on IAAPA's 2008 Conference & Trade Show once I get back home to New Hampshire. But -- for now ... Well, I hope that you folks enjoy this random sampling of photos that Nancy took yesterday while we were wandering the exhibition floor.

Your thoughts?

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  • Okay, I gotta ask -- what's impossible about the Jules Verne theme park?  =)

  • Looks like you are having lots of fun.

  • Looking forward to the article, Jim - I've wanted to go to IAAPA for years, but can't justify a cross-country plane ticket just to attend.

  • If you went to the HHN expo and viewing of the houses, I was the spine girl in Body Collectors! :-)

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