ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando, the “theme park capital of the world,” is buzzing this week with the return of the IAAPA Expo at the Orange County Convention Center.

What You Need To Know

  • IAAPA Expo is holding its massive convention at the Orange County Convention Center this week

  • The event has seen a huge demand from vendors and exhibitors; the show floor sold out this year

  • Attendance is also up, with 20% more attendees this year compared to 2022

  • The event provides a big boost to the Central Florida economy; iAAPA officials estimated a $100 million economic impact

The annual attractions industry trade show and convention, which runs through Friday, is a place where theme park operators, ride manufacturers and design firms can make announcements, unveil new rides or show off their latest products.

The convention draws tens of thousands of attendees every year, many of whom are coming from other states and even other countries to see and learn about what’s happening in the industry.

This year’s event is on track to be one of the biggest yet. Demand for the more than 550,000 square feet of exhibit space on the show floor was so high this year, according IAAPA officials, that it sold out.

“We had 50, 60 companies on a waitlist,” IAAPA president and CEO Jakob Wahl said. “We expanded the outdoor space, and we see a huge demand definitely in terms of exhibit space of companies being represented. We have a very, very large show, and are back to pre-COVID levels.”

The booth spaces on the floor of the IAAPA exposition in Orlando this year sold out, according to officials. (Spectrum News/Ashley Carter)

Wahl believes that’s a good sign that the industry is optimistic about the future.

The event has also drawn more attendees this year. According to the latest tally, an estimated 40,000 people met at the convention center this week, putting this year’s event 20% ahead of 2022.

That’s good news for the convention, but it’s also good news for the Central Florida economy.

IAAPA officials estimate the expo will have $100 million economic impact.

That’s money that’s generated from attendees who are buying food at area restaurants, staying at nearby hotels and visiting area attractions.

“It was nice, yesterday I walked I-Drive and everywhere you see (IAAPA) badges,” Wahl said. “You see them in the restaurants and bars. It’s just very, very busy with attractions people.”