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2023 coasters are on track in Florida
New vehicles revealed at IAAPA Expo
Greetings from the 2022 IAAPA Expo at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The annual confab is the largest gathering of professionals in the parks and attractions industry and attracts folks from all over the world. I’m covering the weeklong event for “Funworld,” the trade magazine published by IAAPA, as well as for IAAPA’s online News Hub, and I’m having a ball.
The highlight of the expo is the cavernous trade show floor, which is jammed with about 900 booths representing virtually every facet of the dynamic industry. Among the cacophonous entourage, there are full-scale rides spinning with screaming passengers, the latest video games, bounce houses and other inflatables, food wholesalers, vendors that sell everything from mascot costumes to plush toys for midway games–and that barely scratches the surface.
One of my favorite features of the expo is the ride reveals. A number of roller coaster manufacturers unveil the lead cars that will ride the rails on the following year’s crop of new thrill machines. It’s an annual ritual that helps build off-season excitement for the parks.
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Perhaps the most unusual coaster set to debut in 2023 is Pipeline: The Surf Coaster coming to SeaWorld Orlando. The next generation of stand-up coasters from manufacturer Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M), it will feature unusual seat and restraint assemblies that will have some vertical give. They will allow riders to “ride the waves” as the train makes its way through the course. The funky car, which resembles a surfboard, looks mighty strange in person. Because it is so unique, lots of expo attendees are ogling the car.
Lots of folks are also flocking to the Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) booth to see the highly stylized car that the ride manufacturer developed for Wildcat’s Revenge. That’s the hybrid wooden-steel coaster set to debut next spring at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. The fearsome feline stalking the lead car makes quite a bold statement.
Speaking of fearsome wild animals, attendees are getting to see two cars from the train that will be used on Big Bear Mountain, the family-friendly, launched coaster on its way to Dollywood in Tennessee. Also incorporating a whimsical look, the Vekoma-designed lead car is made to resemble an off-road vehicle.
Great Coasters International (GCI) is displaying the lead car for Zambezi Zinger, which is set to open next season at Worlds of Fun in Missouri. The wooden coaster will feature the ride manufacturer’s new Infinity Flyer trains. It will also incorporate some sections of all-steel Titan Track. The car at GCI’s booth is displayed on Titan Track.
Zamperla is showing off the whimsical cheese car it developed for Wild Mouse, the spinning coaster coming to The Boardwalk, a newly themed area at Ohio’s Cedar Point. Most of the cars will resemble mice. A few lucky passengers will get to board the ride’s sole cheese car.
Among the many articles I’ve written for IAAPA is “The Next Generation.” It is about one of the Expo’s educational sessions, which focused on family-owned and -operated parks, and the unique challenges that family members face when they work alongside their parents, children, siblings, and other relatives. The panelists included two of my favorite people in the industry, Deno Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park in New York and Lauren Crosby, fourth-generation owner of Indiana’s Holiday World.
By revealing ride vehicles, does the IAAPA Expo get you excited about next season’s roller coasters? Are you especially intrigued by any of the vehicles?