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[IAAPA IAE18] The Big Themes

This year saw the biggest IAPPA IAE show ever. It was truly enormous, both in size and in ambition. As always Katapult were in the thick of it and in this blog we will give you some of our highlights on the big themes at the show.

IAAPA’s new brand and strategy

IAAPA revealed a new strategy and brand identity in the opening session. Hal McEvoy, CEO and President, revealed the new brand which represents the forward-looking ambitions, the diversity and the dynamics of the organisation.

IAAPA have re-branded which represents the forward-looking ambitions, the diversity and the dynamics of the organisation.

The strategy encompassed feedback and insight for members all over the world and will focus around connection and diversity for members in this growing worldwide industry.

The rise of the FEC

There was a whole heap of content on the conference floor for the FEC market. This seems to be a trend that is unstoppable. Yes, the big ride manufacturers and operators were all in attendance, but there was a large number of FEC suppliers and operators too.

Inspirational leaders

There were a number of leadership sessions, one of which was ‘Inspirational Women of Disney’. This session showed just how the women in our industry are taking to the helm. The leadership discussed was very much based on service – to the customer, to the employee and to the industry.

"Inspiring Women of Disney Parks" at IAAPA AE

The “Inspiring Women of Disney Parks”

This is an industry that is open and unafraid to share it’s learning. The conference heard from senior people all around the world and welcomed in new Chairman David Rosenberg.


It was evident that IAAPA is a true global organisation. There were members from every corner of the world speaking and exhibiting. The rise of the Chinese leisure economy was evident and the best international skills were showcased in the technological advancements in the Korea Pavilion, the award-winning parks from South America and the events hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The legends session, featuring Roland Mack (Founder of Europa Park) and Tom Mehrmann (President & GM of Universal Beijing Theme Park & Resort), homed in on this international theme – How can a themed attraction give the guest a culturally relevant experience?

Tom Mehrmann encapsulated it with his ethos of:

“International Direction, Local Feel”

Whilst Roland Mack imparted a really uplifting sense of what connects us all:

“We speak one language, which is fun and laughing, all over the world”


The general feeling of optimism and positivity that surrounded the show was a true reflection of the buoyant state of the market. We know we are in an experience economy and we know consumers are demanding more and more from the leisure industry. Everyone we spoke to had a positive outlook for the industry, from the use of new technologies, to the safety & security of guests, from the big parks reinventing themselves to the smaller start-up businesses.

We left Orlando feeling uplifted and inspired, if a little tired. Which was thanks in part to the IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run for Give the Children the World Village that we ran with both the BALPPA and the Blooloop guys.  That, and the parties we went to…

Kelly Herrick and Phil Higgins post IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run

Kelly Herrick and Phil Higgins post IAAPA Footprints from the Heart 5K Run

If you want to find out what else inspired us at the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2018 make sure you subscribe to our mail out to get the blogs sent straight to your inbox.

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About the author: Kelly is the Strategy & Development Director at Katapult – A Creative England, Top 50 Company that creates physical and digital guest experiences that amaze and engage your visitors.

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