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Theme park professionals gather in Orlando this week for international amusement convention

It has to be the only corporate conference where it's normal to see (and ride) carnival rides in the parking lot and on the showroom floor.

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo 2015, a global confab of theme park and attraction industry professionals, has taken over the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando this week. This year is the IAAPA's second largest conference in the association's 97-year history, said spokeswoman Colleen Mangone.

More than 28,000 people from 100 countries are signed up to attend. More than a thousand vendors, which could be anything from Busch Gardens and Disney World to a science center in Minnesota or a small family bowling alley in China, set up individual booths over 560,000 square feet of showroom space.

"There's always a need for family entertainment, and the industry is very strong right now," Mangone said. "We're seeing rapid global growth in new markets like China, actually over Asia."

The industry is expected to rake in $39.5 billion this year.

The IAAPA conference is where theme park professionals — from museum marketing directors to roller coaster designers to cart manufacturing plant CEOs — interact face-to-face. It's a venue for professionals to sign deals, test new technology and discuss the latest trends in family entertainment.

"We're the largest global conference for the industry," Mangone said. "This is the one time of year where across the world, the industry gathers here."

Orlando is a natural fit for this convention. It also happens to be only one of six cities in the country that can house a group of its size, Mangone added. The conference will continue to be in Orlando through 2025, she said.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com. Follow @sunbizgriffin.

.Fast facts

By the numbers

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Conference takes place through Friday in Orlando.

Showroom size: 560,000 square feet

Exhibits: 1,000

Attendees: 28,000

Nations represented: 100

Theme park professionals gather in Orlando this week for international amusement convention 11/16/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 9:34am]
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