[AN] L'industrie de l'amusement mise sur le High-Tech

Publié le par parcattractions.fr

This is where fun is work.

At the world's largest collection of amusement industry vendors, carousel riders are dressed in business suits, executives wax on about the merits of painted versus fur-covered character heads and ice cream companies aren't afraid to dip into the competition.

More than 28,000 people are gathered here this week for the annual conference and trade show of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

For many, it's a critical week of networking and sales that bring in big money on 1 million square feet of show space at the Georgia World Congress Center

"This is a $250,000 show for us -- it could reach up to $1 million," said Francisco Guerra, president of Snow Masters, an Alabama-based company that sells machines that spit out fluffy, white flakes that evaporate and leave no mess in seconds.

But travel just a few aisles away and novelties such as the "whoopee finger pen" and other toys aren't moving so fast.

"We haven't seen many of our customers yet," said Dale Halm of Hayes Specialties Corp. in Michigan.

Halm said he had better luck when the show was held in Orlando last year -- and the three years prior to that -- at the Orange County Convention Center.

"We'd rather see the show back in Orlando," said Halm, who reported that last year he sold thousands of drinking glasses that light up from the bottom.

The show is scheduled to return to Orlando in 2007.

For some, money depends on making sure new ideas catch on. That's the case at the Precision Dynamics booth where officials of the California company are trying to convince theme park operators that wristbands equipped with radio frequency identification chips are the next big thing.

The chips allow customers to download money from a credit card onto the wristband, which can then be used like a debit card to make cashless purchases.

But the chips have a Big Brother quality as well. The wristbands can track the movements of individual guests and, in a new feature debuted this year, can download information from a drivers license.

The new feature, which costs $4,000 to $6,000, is being marketed as a way to help clubs and bars keep out underage drinkers. Once a license is swiped, a wristband is printed with the customer's name and whether the patron is old enough to drink.

Robin Barber, Precision Dynamics vice president, said the technology is the "wave of the future" and some bands are already being used at several U.S. parks.

Steve Baker of Orlando-based Baker Leisure Group said his firm is considering the use of a version of a radio frequency wristband in the Ron Jon Surf Park at Festival Bay planned for International Drive.

"Water parks are desperate for it," Baker said, noting the challenge of carrying cash or credit cards in a wet environment.

Some companies at the show, including industry giants such as Disney, shared advice and tips with smaller attractions. Others, though, didn't mind taking a jab at the competition.

Take Dippin' Dots and Mini Melts. Both are makers of tiny ice cream beads that are sold as a cool alternative to the creamy, fast-melting stuff.

Mini Melts was handing out fliers with its samples that touted its brand as the winner in a patent dispute with Dippin' Dots.

Both booths had equally long lines at their sample tables.

Source : Orlando Sentinel
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