For the first time in four years, IAAPA Expo Asia is back, and it’s here in Singapore. IAAPA Expo Asia was an event I’ve always wanted to attend, and the team and I have been fortunate enough to have been invited by IAAPA to come and share the experience with you!
Over the new two days, we’ll share our experiences on our website and social media channels. I’m excited to share what we’ve seen from the theme and amusement park industry.
Here’s a recap of our first day at IAAPA Expo Asia 2023.
IAAPA Expo Asia Opening Ceremony
The expo started with an opening ceremony at the Marina Bay Sands & Convention Centre. The room was buzzing with energy as industry professionals met with old friends and new ones who had waited for the last four years to gather for this event.
June Ko, the Executive Director and Vice President of IAAPA Asia-Pacific Operations, led the ceremony and discussed how the global attractions industry is about making connections with people and the communities they share.
Afterwards a talk from Jim Pattison Jr. (2023 IAAPA Chairman of the Board and President of Ripley Entertainment), Jakob Wahl (IAAPA President and CEO), and Andrew Bolstein (Committee Chair, Asia-Pacific Regional Advisory Committee), who talked about how the pandemic had affected the industry worldwide, but that through innovation it was going to come back stronger than ever.
Before we went to the show floor, I mentioned a few sessions I was excited to see in a previous post. I’m always curious about how things work and love to learn anything new! These sessions are for industry professionals seeking inspiration, information, and ideas to help their careers.
As a content creator, I found exciting points from these sessions and the professionals sharing their first-hand experiences.
Session: An Insider’s Guide to Food & Beverage Operations
It’s no secret that I eat a lot of theme park food, and many of you have seen it on YouTube. This session discussed what considerations go into developing new restaurants and menu items and how various parks such as Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, and LEGOLAND take their ideas from the planning stages to what you see when eating that adorable-looking dessert.
What surprised me the most was how long it took to make these food items happen. It can take upwards of three years for things to come together. While I’ve always appreciated the effort that goes into making these items, I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the amount of time and effort that goes into making delicious food and fun and exciting memories.
Session: Tips on Making a Creative Entertainment Show
Entertainment is one of the big reasons many of us visit theme parks repeatedly. Besides food, entertainment is a big part of my theme park experience. As you’ve seen in videos and on the website, we have a massive affinity for themed entertainment.
The development for live entertainment at the parks can take several months to several years, depending on the show’s scope, but it was great to see the insights into putting these shows together.
A few key points were the integration of technology both in the marketing and the actual shows to the importance of having world-class performers in the shows themselves. The technology could include anything from social media to the latest projection mapping. I loved seeing how this technology brings together what we love to see in the parks.
After we finished the sessions, it was time to hit the show floor!
IAAPA Expo Asia Show Floor
Over 270 exhibitors worldwide show the best in everything from new rides to new tech and everything in between. While we couldn’t visit every booth, there were a few standouts that I want to share with you.
Sansei Technologies, based in Osaka, had their newly developed trackless dark-ride vehicle on display, which I could even sit in! Sansei has worked with several top theme parks worldwide, including Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan.
They’re working on a new trackless dark ride, and we can expect an announcement next year. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to share more than that. Could it be the replacement for the Spider-Man ride that’s closing permanently at Universal Studios Japan?
It wasn’t clear whether the vehicle we saw on the show floor was the actual ride vehicle in the unannounced project. Either way, it’s pretty exciting to see!
Absurdities is a multi-room immersive restaurant here in Singapore that takes guests through multiple rooms and dishes, but none of what you see is what you’d expect. The menu offerings are in the omakase style (“I’ll leave it up to you”), in which what you get is not set and changes often.
I didn’t have a chance to check this restaurant in person on this trip, but I want to come back and try this out! It sounds intriguing.
Ghostbusters VR Academy (Hologate)
Hologate was also on hand to show their Arena VR System, which I got to try. The system can handle four players in one setup and has 70 games developed. I tried Ghostbusters VR Academy, released last month. The company has over 450 systems operating worldwide.
Opening Reception at Universal Studios Singapore
Our first day at the expo ended with the opening reception at Universal Studios Singapore, a highlight as it had been four years since I visited the park.
It was great to see the park again with some of the people who had a hand in developing it and seeing it in a much more intimate setting. The exclusive event lets attendees have almost complete access to the park, and since we were the only ones there, we could have some good food and great rides without worrying about wait times.
On my last trip in 2019, I didn’t get to ride the Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon duling coasters. I tried riding both of these to cross them off my coaster list. I have to say my favourite of the two was the Cylon.
I’ll have a full video of our evening at Universal Studios Singapore on our YouTube channel later this week!
The first day of the IAAPA Expo Asia was jam-packed and full of fun and excitement, as expected from the attractions industry. Check back for my coverage of day two of the expo in the coming days and my social media channels for additional coverage!
This is a sponsored blog post from IAAPA Expo Asia 2023.