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Virtual Reality Hits The Amusement Parks At Annual Expo

SeaWorld Orlando found success by freshening up the Kraken roller coaster with virtual reality technology. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Virtual reality is dominating the world’s largest amusement park expo taking place this week in Orlando.

Theme park rides and attractions sprawl across two concourses at the convention center for IAAPA’s amusement and entertainment expo and you don’t have to look far to see some people decked out in VR gear.

More attraction companies are augmenting the amusement experience by using VR technology. Strap a headset on during a laser-tag match, and guests can feel like they’re in a video game. Give it to roller coaster riders to freshen up an older attraction.

It’s a growing trend in the amusement park industry, said IAAPA’s Communications Director Susie Storey, and it stemmed from SeaWorld Orlando’s success implementing the technology.

“What we’re seeing on the floor are ideas that are growing upon that. If you can put it on a roller coaster, can you put it on a water slide? We’re seeing examples of that debuting on the show floor,” said Storey. More than 1,100 companies are showing off their products this week at the annual expo in Orlando.

The world’s largest amusement park association said its breaking ground on its permanent headquarters early next year. On the exhibition floor, IAAPA Executives revealed plans for the 21,000 square foot office in southwest Orlando

The association wants to capitalize on central Florida’s tourism stronghold by moving its headquarters from Virginia.

“So by relocating our world headquarters here in Orlando,” said Storey, “we’re providing easier access for members to come to us, better access for us to service our members so we can continue to tell the stories and continue to improve the attractions industry.”

She said the week long annual expo generates around $50 million dollars for the central Florida economy. The amusement park industry accounts for nearly $40 billion dollars annually worldwide.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »