#1137 – Entertainment’s Pomp & Majesty – Part 1

So begins the expansive coverage of Europe’s biggest amusement, attractions, and entertainment expo, along with details of developments impacting the international scene. In this first part, we cover the build-up to the show, and the Immersive attractions on the show floor, along with the appearance of SimRacing and eSports elements.

European Attraction Extravaganza

IAAPA Expo Europe 2022 (IAAPA-EMEA’22) – The 15th anniversary of this event returned to the previous planned London schedule after the change in plans following the global lockdowns. The European premier event for the theme park, attraction, amusement, zoological and leisure entertainment sectors, made landfall at the ExCel Conference Center near the heart of London during October. The IAAPA Europe organization team were promoting over 500 companies exhibiting at the show. 

Much has changed in the European amusement and attraction scene since the travails of the Global Health Crisis, as well as the additional international situation of excluding of Russian and associated partners due to the ongoing conflict in the Ukraine. This has also started a further compressed financial situation through sanctions and energy price hikes that have caused recessional conditions. The additional impact on Asian exhibitors, who had seen their IAAPA Asia event cancelled back in February, was also made worse by the international travel restrictions on their country. And then, the momentous news of the death of the Queen of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, throwing the host country into mourning. This created a complication of burdens which the trade event had to endure. 

Just one of these situations would have placed a major strain on the European trade event, but all together marked the IAAPA-EMEA’22 show as a momentous landmark in the industry’s history, and one that will be remembered long after it ended.

This vast amusement and attractions gathering was a prelude to many of the technological and development advancements that could be expected to be mirrored at the Orlando IAAPA event. But for many attendees to IAAPA-EMA’22, this would be the only show during which they would be able to evaluate and make purchases. The European show was also proving the main trade event for this industry for, not just European and UK buyers, but also Middle East and Asian delegates, pivoting the importance of the event post-COVID. We have split, as always, the core trends and technologies viewed during the trade event into their own sections and hope to offer an insight into the key development shaping the advancements in the industry.

Immersive Attractions

The latest “Immersive Dark Rides” and new “Immersive Attractions” were all on display, although the mix between immersive and virtual presentations was stretched, as attraction manufacturers strive for the best return on investment from the operators – not all being interested in headset-based attractions, but still embracing “Media-Based Attractions”. 

Taking pride of place on the Simworx booth was their ‘AGV’ (Automated Guided Vehicle) Dark Rides platform. The system showed off its motion dynamics and is also an example of the growth of autonomous vehicle technology being applied to ride vehicles, removing the need for tracks, and so increasing the flexibility and versatility of these platforms. The company was showcasing their new concept, ‘Overdrive’, alongside the platform to demonstrate the unique abilities of the ride system and what sets it apart from tracked solutions.

Trackless “Autonomous Ride-Vehicles” have been seen deployed across the larger parks. First with Walt Disney’s ‘Pooh’s Hunny Hunt’ (2000), but most notably with the attraction ‘Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance’ (2019) that also include non-linear pathing. Meanwhile, the ‘Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure’ (2014) employs, along with trackless, unique pathing (via a local positioning system) which offers the guests’ ride unpredictability (also seen with ‘Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway’ (2020)). Benefits of scope of experience, unique pathing and scale are offered by this technology, and it has a direct impact in big attraction experiences being scaled down for small location deployment. 

Now, with the maturing of the technology, these elements can be economically deployed for smaller attraction installation. This is illustrated with the new Sally Dark Ride attraction ‘Volkanu – Quest for the Golden Idol’, opened this year at ‘Lost Island Themepark’. The company had a booth at the IAAPA-EMEA’22 show, listing their latest developments and promoting their trackless attraction systems, having a strong European presence, with 15 attraction installations in the EU territory alone. While also exhibiting, ETF Ride Systems promoted with their ‘EFT Xperience Mover’, not only a trackless six-passenger, but also including interactive game elements offering longevity to the experience. The company was also promoting their ‘Pirate Mania’ turnkey dark ride concept.

During the show, it was announced that media-based attraction manufacturer CAVU Designwerks had signed a partnership with KUKA Robotics toward the development and launch of a new trackless autonomous ride-vehicles, for four-guests, and employing much of the new local positioning technology to achieve a dynamic movement envelope. The company will be giving a full presentation of the system at the Orlando IAAPA event in November – and it is expected that other developers will be entering this sector with new designs.

Taking space at the London show, Brogent Technologies promoted their ‘i-Ride’, 6DoF flying theater, along with their ‘m-Ride’ 180-degree rotating theater, and the ‘mi-Ride’ 6DoF motion racing cockpit platform for eSports competition. (Later in our extensive IAAPA-EMEA report we will look at other eSports racing simulator providers who showed at the event.) The company confirmed they will have some new announcements in this sphere at the Orlando IAAPA fixture. 

With much to shout about, TRIOTECH started the event with announcements regarding their participation in the ‘SAGA Experience’ from Puy du Fou Asia – with TRIOTECH providing a dedicated immersive simulation of a train experience, along with other interactive elements of the indoor entertainment venue in Shanghai. The company has installed some 415-attractions globally since being founded, including announcements of the eighth installation of their hand tracking ‘NINJAGO The Ride’ attraction, opening at ‘LEGOLAND Resort Korea’. 

During the London show, the company offered delegates a chance to ride the brand-new (yet unnamed) stand-up theater attraction – the configuration offers special effects such as scent, wind blasts and leg ticklers, while the rider stands up holding grips, standing on a special motion platform. The compact design and simple loading of guests increases throughput, making it available to a far wider scope of venues (including FEC and leisure entertainment).

In further announcements, TRIOTECH recently promoted the installation of an immersive walkthrough attraction at ‘Fabland Valley Resort’, located in Xiangyang in the Province of Hubei, China. Owned by OCT Group and called ‘Alien Port’, it is a 12-minute experience that has guests, in groups of 16, walking through themed components, including an interactive shooting element. The TRIOTECH team developed the interactive elements using their ‘Illusio’ interactive projection mapping platform, using the UNREAL game engine. Further expansion plans regarding the TRIOTECH European operation and new projects are expected to be revealed in Orlando.

Exhibitor BoldMove Nation came to the London show with lots to present, with more design work and theming for their anchor product, the ‘Smash & Reload’ interactive dark ride (IDR) – representing a four-minute ride experience (with a calculated 500-players-per-hour for its original version), presented in two variants of configuration. The company has also started to develop their ‘WaterSlider VR’ ride on a motion-based liferaft, with wheelchair access. Also being presented was what the company has labelled their “phygital” augmented reality attraction ‘AR Hybrid Quest’, a digital adventure trail in a physical environment. On their booth at IAAPA they demonstrated this new concept in a virtual AR portal – employing their new digital gaming virtual platform to create ‘AR Dino World’. 

BoldMove ran a ten-minute live demonstration of some of the ‘AR Dino World’ concept on their booth during the show, in an attraction concept and operation developed in partnership with ActiveMe. Booth partners included Polymorph, key partner for all media content and co-creator of ‘TooMush’ IP, along with Mediatoon Licensing, storytelling expert AdventureLAb and Panasonic Connect the division of the electronics giant dedicated to the display and AV support in the commercial sector, who also delivered the screens for the booth presentations.

Another manufacturer with new developments to promote during IAAPA-EMEA’22 was Alterface, with their new turnkey concepts for their ‘Action League: The Interactive Revolution’ attraction, presented in three format concepts, offering game and storytelling driven experiences. The proposal for the platform offers interactive team-based gameplay, as well as an audience draw. Its unique rotational design is developed in partnership with P+A Projects

Lagotronics Projects – another manufacturer and developer in the media-based attraction scene came to the trade show with more information on their ‘ExplorAR’ platform, offering digital device QR code powered experiences, with guests unlocking mini-games and puzzles as they navigate the location. The company also came to the London show fresh from new announcements regarding partnerships on the Family Entertainment Center ‘WOW’, in Qatar, which will see the installation of one of their ‘GameCabIN’ attractions. The company also has a development role at the Philippines theme park project ‘Pradera Islands’.

The ride attraction, flying theater, and 4D theater markets, have been consumed by increased investment in CGi-based film content, and the ability to offer more cost-effective motion and theater systems (while we still retain the term film, “Digital Content” is the reality on offer). VR has also played a part in shaping this investment, and several of the 4D, 5D and large format film operations also include an extensive VR content and hardware offering. Companies such as Red Raion presented their catalogue of movie experiences, as well as revealed their new CGi title for licensing called ‘Moby Dick – Friends to the Rescue!’, which is available in 5D, VR and Dome (large) formats. Along with announcing CGI custom content ‘2125 – An Adventurous Journey Through Time And Space’, made in partnership with Leisure Expert Group, and already offered on the Carnival Cruise Line ‘AIDA’ cruise ship. US distributor and produce SimEx-Iwerks promoted their vast catalogue of licenced content, as well as their ‘FlyRide’ flying theater. Meanwhile European operation nWave Pictures promoted their extensive library of 85-titles, also celebrating their new animated feature ‘The Inseparables’, co-produced with A Contracorriente Films

Film distributor and developer TheJuice also had their newest film content on display, but the big news for the company was the presentation of their new VR attraction called the ‘VipeR’, offering a six-seater motion vehicle that uses PICO G2 VR headsets and offers a reconfigured 4D motion ride experience, viewed within the virtual platform. The motion platform was created to be simple to install and operate in smaller venues, ranging from resorts to FEC environments. Although still in an early stage of development, the system is seen as important in the company’s expansion plans. 

DOF Robotics – the company’s booth was dominated by the impressive ‘Monster Jam Grave Digger’ simulator, for six riders, with PICO G2 VR headsets to view the virtual reality ride film experience. The company is offering the latest VR rides based on the monster truck format for the system, with a third experience in development. The impressive DOF motion platform offers 6DoF and rotational effects and the company is very happy with the reaction to the VR simulator. The company revealed they have been working on a number of new immersive experiences, including ‘NAUTILUS’, a brand-new submarine simulator, offering their proven 6DoF motion platform for a 12-seat experience. The company represents a 72-riders per hour throughput, within the simulator, with the 270-degree screen is supported by effects such as spritzer and wind. Additionally, they recently announced the launch of their new ‘CITYFLY VR’ – a standing eight-person motion platform, which can support VR headsets. We hope to have more details on these systems at IAAPA Orlando.

SimRacing and eSports

Speaking of sports simulation, and racing simulation (“SimRacing”) has continued to make inroads into the attraction scene, in some cases as a standalone attraction, as seen at ‘Ferrari Land’, and as an eSports component at other venues. At IAAPA’EMEA’22, with two examples of their professional racing simulator platforms on their booth, WAVE ITALY showed their monocoque F1 racing system (‘Phoenix Pro’), with a three-screen wraparound display, and authentic controls in a full-realistic cockpit. This was next to their new ‘Ghepard Maranello’ GT-simulator, offering an innovative patented motion system and stylish design, for the latest in immersive racing and eSports scene.

Also showing at the London event was ImSim, showing their commercial motion simulator race-rig, with three-screen wraparound display, and 3DoF advance motion actuation, with the experience also coming in the highly transportable packing case configuration. The versatility of the system offers not just racing, but also flight simulation experiences, by replacing the steering for flight controls.

European manufacturer AMEGA Entertainment came with the racing seats for their ‘E-Racing Container’, offering a glimpse at the F1 network non motion race-rigs (‘Formula-S’) they have developed. The company’s AMEGA Technology designed and manufactured the portable eSports attraction, that can be deployed easily and quickly. This racing system is in support of the other attractions developed by the company, such as their ‘Heliride VR’ simulator.

Away from the show floor, and the London scene was about to see the launch of a massive “SimRacing” location of its own – another of the major Social Entertainment concepts hitting the UK capital, the ‘Formula 1 Arcade’ from Kindred Concepts, the brainchild behind ‘Puttshack’ and ‘Bounce’. Developed in partnership with the racing sports organizers, the venue hopes to bring a mix of fast-paced racing simulation, along with hospitality, at a prominent London location comprising some 60 race-rigs, developed by Vesaro, and using the latest D-BOX motion actuators. The opening is planned for the end of the year, and we also plan a full report on the event.

Speaking of the popularity of eSports, returning to the IAAPA-EMEA’22 show floor, and an actual legend and respected father of the concept was at the event. Walter Day is famous for Twin Galaxies, a competitive video game, scoring, and tournament community, that established much of what has become the modern eSports scene – immortalized in documentaries and making stars of the top scoring players. Day came to IAAPA London accompanied by one of his famous players, Billy Mitchell, recognized as “The Video Game Player of the Century”, who had just won his latest video game championship, adding to his considerable World Record tally. The pair took time to visit the social entertainment chain Four Quarters, to take part in a successful World Record attempt to achieve a new perfect score on the arcade classic ‘PAC-MAN’.

About the author

Kevin Williams

More posts

The brainchild of two location-based experience enthusiasts, Christine Buhr and Brandon Willey, the LBX Collective aims to inform and educate, create opportunities to connect with industry peers, and to spur collaboration, discourse, and cross-pollination of ideas.

Join the Podcast Crew

Are you a location-based entertainment or family entertainment center subject matter expert? 

Do you have specific knowledge, ideas, successes or failures that you want to share with the LBC Collective community?

Request to join our LBX Collective Podcast Crew

0%

Login to enjoy full advantages

Please login or subscribe to continue.

LoginRegister

Go Premium!

Enjoy the full advantage of the premium access.

Login

Stop following

Unfollow Cancel

Cancel subscription

Are you sure you want to cancel your subscription? You will lose your Premium access and stored playlists.

Go back Confirm cancellation