By Scott Borowsky and Frank Seninsky
2016 will go down as a great year for the leisure out of home industry. For me (Frank), ‘It was our best year overall in terms of income before taxes (still am looking forward to tax decreases to use money to expand) and setting the table for growth in 2017 (new opportunities) since 1981, that is 35 years. Hey, maybe it takes that long just to get the hang of this industry, which is currently ranked number three in growth potential?”
Much the same could be said of the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo.
Scott reported: ‘Best opening two days ever! IAAPA can be summarized in a spectrum of three words: phenomenal, busy and optimistic.’ With two to three FECs/parks opening per week in the United States, and more worldwide, theme parks opening their pocketbooks to upgrade and purchase new attractions and the possibility of the new Trump administration reversing Dodd-Frank and giving new credit lending life to community banks (3000 went out of business during the past recession as perhaps an unintended consequence), the planets and stars are in alignment .
Key Trend Word: Participatory
Participatory is where people are headed. From Virtual Reality (VR) pods and rooms, Escape Rooms, Ninja Warrior Courses, trampoline elements, ropes courses, zip lines, all are big with FEC people. And even more interesting is that a lot of people like to watch people participate and while they watch they stay longer and eat/drink more…and even play more games. What a great business model.
Comments: “Virtual Reality dominated the technology thrust for new ideas at IAAPA, with Holocube from a new start-up making a big impact, along with the OMNI ARENA from Universal Space bringing VR to eSports, and off-site Main Event running a soft opening of their V-Play backpack VR experience”…
Pinball trended heavily at IAAPA with new pinball tables from STERN Pinball, Jersey Jack Pinball, and Chicago Gaming – while digital pinball made a strong appearance from Arcade Factory, ARCOODA and Benchmark, showing video pintables.
Two Shows in One?
What we mean by this is we both got the feeling that there are two distinct sectors to IAAPA, the theme parks with large outdoor attractions and the FEC (indoor mostly) with games and small footprint attractions. [Frank spent most of his time in the games and FEC floor section while Scott did both.] Even the seminar program was divided into these two distinct groups. Perhaps another reason why this seems evident is that IAAPA previous to the Expo announced it was moving its offices from Alexandria, Va. to Orlando, Fla., so it is quite possible that some of the current IAAPA staff (that is not making the move) may have felt a bit of independence.
Hottest Attractions and Games
- Ninja Warrior Course (Adventure Solutions) – drew the largest crowds of any FEC attraction.
- Escape Room (Studio 41b) – housed in a room the size of a party room
- Omni Arena VR (UNIS) and dozens from other companies
- Laser Maze (Funovation)
- Laser Tag Pro (Laser Tag Pro) – Tactical laser tag – lots of guns, lots of players.
Games (In no special order, from Frank.)
- Crazy Tower 4 Pl (Adrenaline) – most talked about redemption game.
- Cruis’n Blast Sit Down Driver (Raw Thrills/Betson/Namco) – most talked about video game.
- The Walking Dead (Raw Thrills/Betson/Namco) – most talked about environmental video game.
- Space Invaders Frenzy (Raw Thrills/Betson/Namco) – most talked about video redemption game.
- Crazy Claw Jr. (Rocket Amusements) – Scott called it the ‘sleeper game of the show’.
- Launch Code (Team Play) – Winner of the IAAPA Brass Ring
- Let’s Bounce (LAI) – redemption game.
- Diamonds & Pearls 6 Pl Pusher (Elaut) – Maybe can top Wizard of Oz 6 Pl which has been the number one Game in the Industry for the past several years.
- Jersey Wheels (Bob’s Space Racers/Jennison) – redemption game.
- Daytona 3 Championship USA (Sega) – updated Daytona sit down driver
- Heat Wave (Benchmark) – redemption or capsule vendor
- Bean Bag Toss (ICE) – redemption game
- DC Comics Super Heroes (Namco) – 4 player pusher
- Monster Mash (Family Fun) – redemption game
- Maximum Tune 5 (Namco)
- Hyper Shoot Basketball (LAI)
- Scene Machine Photo booth (Apple Face Place) – Winner of the IAAPA Brass Ring
2017 Outlook – Awesome!
So many great games and attractions. There is a lot of buzz with the new technologies and to give the stay at home people more reasons to go out and have fun. One concept that is taking hold in Japan is that senior citizens are being welcomed at game centers. They are even being given special incentives to give them an ‘edge’ while playing redemption games. Currently 1/3rd of the Japanese customer base in game centers are senior citizens who previously stayed home. Can you imagine if this concept takes hold here in the United States with the aging baby boomers? Just another potential 50 million customers who might want to come without their grandkids.
Frank Seninsky is president of the Alpha-Omega Group of companies, which includes a consulting agency, Amusement Entertainment Management (AEM), two nationwide revenue sharing equipment suppliers, Alpha-Omega Amusements, Inc. and Alpha-BET Entertainment, and Alpha-Omega Sales, a full line game and related equipment distributor. All are headquartered in East Brunswick, N.J. A frequently and widely published expert, Seninsky has worked in the leisure entertainment business for 47 years. For more information, or to see the Frank the Crank Blog, visit www.frank-thecrank.com. Seninsky can also be reached by calling 732-254-3773, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.AEMLLC.com.