Media-based attractions specialist, CAVU Designwerks, has unveiled its intelligent trackless dark ride vehicle, the first of its kind in the industry.

The trackless vehicle features intelligent self-driving units, which are used in warehouse facilities in the manufacturing sector. CAVU’s self-driving vehicles (SDV) are intelligent, autonomous and can adapt to different environments.

With proprietary software technology built into each vehicle, the need for power cables, tracks and wire systems of the floor is eliminated. There is also no requirement for external infrastructure for navigation, show equipment integration, sets and other attraction vehicles. The SDVs are also able to identify objects in their path and navigate around them.

CAVU’s intelligent dark ride vehicles enable theme park operators to provide visitors with a dark ride experience that relies on significantly less infrastructure and space than other dark ride vehicles.

The vehicles are available to two models – standard and plus. With the standard model, a total of eight passengers can fit into the car, which can rotate 360 degrees, and move forwards and backwards. The plus model seats six passengers and is equipped with three DOF motion, with roll, heave and pitch. The plus vehicle also comes with up to ten onboard special effects.

Mark Stepanian, VP innovation and engineering for CAVU, spoke about the new intelligent vehicles for dark rides: “As an integrator, CAVU’s method of developing a new ride system is to take an existing proven technology and integrate that into our rides.

“CAVU is partnering with a leader in industrial robotics technology to use their proven autonomous self-driving platform as the base of our trackless dark ride vehicle,” Stepanian added.

CAVU’s self-driving vehicles were launched at the IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando.



Amanda Thompson OBE, managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, has been named IAAPA’s 2020 Chairman of the Board of Directors. The announcement was made during the Kickoff Event at this year’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Thompson has a lifetime of experience and knowledge within the industry. In 1896, Thompson’s great-grandfather, William Bean, established Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In 1931, her grandfather, Leonard Thompson, took over as leader of the amusement park, a role that her father Geoffrey oversaw from 1976 to 2004. From 2004 onwards, Amanda has been the iconic Pleasure Beach’s CEO.

Thompson’s appointment as IAAPA Chairman of the Board is historical in the sense she is the second member of the same family to have chaired the trade association, is the first female Chair from Europe and only the third woman in the IAAPA’s history.

In 1982, Thompson founded Stageworks Worldwide Productions, a subsidiary of Blackpool Pleasure Beach Ltd. that creates shows around the world. As well as being president of Stageworks, Thompson is producer and director of the Hot Ice Show in Blackpool.

The industry veteran has been an IAAPA member for decades and has chaired IAAPA Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Regional Advisory Committee. She has also served as a member of IAAPA’s Executive Finance, Membership, and Entertainment Committees.

In 2012, Thompson received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) honour for her services to tourism in 2012. She is also a Patron of Blackpool’s world-famous Grand Theatre and the Blackpool Civic Trust.



Lego Factory Adventure, the first ride experience in the world to feature technology which turns visitors into Lego minifigures, is to be implemented into Legoland New York Resort, Holovis and ETF Ride Systems.

Using the world’s first on-ride tracking technology, Lego Factory Adventure will identify the characteristics of riders,  while mapping their position in the virtual space. It will then transform riders into Lego Minifigures.

Utilising motion tracking, the Lego Minifigures will be able to move as the guests move.

Legoland New York will be implementing this innovative technology. The new Legoland is opening on July 4, 2020 in Hudson Valley. With over 50 rides, attractions and shows stretching across 150 acres and seven themed lands, Legoland New York will be the largest Legoland ever built.

The news was revealed by Holovis and Merlin Entertainment at IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando.

Julie Estrada, head of PR North America for Merlin Entertainments said: “Merlin Entertainments continues to grow in North America with more than 30 attractions and is already pushing boundaries with the Lego Factory Adventure before Legoland New York even opens.

“Imagine traveling through a Lego Factory and suddenly seeing yourself as a Lego Minifigure! With vision in hand, we looked to two of the world’s leading developers, Holovis and ETF Ride Systems, to create this first of its kind dark ride experience.

“I can’t wait to see the looks on our guests’ faces when they experience it,” Estrada continued.

Peter Cliff, creative director at Holovis, a leading experience designer, shared his enthusiasm for the new technology: “At Holovis, we pride ourselves on the ability to own the entire technical experience, so the delivery of the Lego Factory Adventure is the perfect project for our turnkey, in-house capability,” said Cliff.

“Working alongside Merlin Entertainments, we have created the ultimate in on-ride guest personalisation and the ETF trackless motion vehicle integrates perfectly with the non-linear ride experience.

“The Lego Minifigure transformation is the textbook use for our HoloTrac technology, and since it’s completely invisible to the guest, the experience feels like real magic when the moment occurs,” Cliff added.

Lego Factory Adventure vehicles have been created by ride manufacturer, ETF Ride Systems. As guests spin in their vehicles, they will face a screen, where they will watch their vehicle turn into Lego as they transform into a Lego Minifigure.

Ruud Koppens, CEO of ETF Ride Systems, said: “The vehicle we created for the Lego Factory Adventure is meant to make guests feel as if they are a part of the automatic robot machinery that you would see in a Lego factory.

“We’ve never done this kind of ride before that is based on reality versus fantasy and we are very excited to work with Holovis and Merlin Entertainments to make this happen!”



Aardman, the multi award-winning animation studio and storyteller, has announced a new concept for the theme park industry. The concept will be delivered in partnership with P&P Projects, the Netherlands-based attraction design and turnkey solution specialists.

The project is inspired by the fishermen of the Li River, ‘A Fish Tale,’ and tells a humorous and dramatic coming-of-age adventure of a determined young fisher-boy, and his playful cormorant sidekick.

As the two characters try and catch their first ever fish together, their inexperience and naivety prevail, with potentially calamitous consequences. However, through persistence and determination, the couple manage to land the catch of their dreams.

This heart-warming family tale is directed by Aardman’s Darren Dubicki. Developed by P&P Projects, ‘A Fish Tale’ is designed to be incorporated into amusement parks, to potentially be used on dark rides or for 4D cinema experiences.

Ngaio Harding-Hill, head of attractions and live experiences at Aardman, comments: “Aardman is delighted to be developing so many exciting projects for global theme parks and attractions and to be working with some of the most renowned partners and experts in the industry.”

‘A Fish Tale’ is being showcased at this year’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando, where visitors will have the chance to talk to Ngaio Harding-Hill to discuss Aardman’s projects.



Rainbow Productions, a world leader in developing custom-made brand and sport mascots, is developing its interactive body puppets and will be showcasing the product at IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando.

The fresh launch of the product follows the success of body puppets’ appearance at this year’s IAAPA Expo Asia in Shanghai, as well as the enthusiasm shown towards the Pierrot Bear at IAAPA Expo Europe in Paris.

Rainbow Productions’ body puppets are interactive entertainment, designed to allow children to engage with a mascot of their own height. This enables the puppeteer to act in harmony with the body puppet.

Body Puppets provide an alternative to custom-made mascot costumes and traditional puppets, providing entertainers with an immersive way to entertain audiences.

As Simon Foulkes, sales and marketing director at Rainbow, comments: “It takes interaction and audience involvement to a completely new level. The joy on children’s faces as they suspend their disbelief in the puppeteer is quite something to witness.”

Rainbow Entertainments, which is based in the UK, recently manufactured the ZO Robot body puppets for Tekzone, a family entertainment attraction in Kuwait.

Steven Putzeys, leisure and entertainment operations manager at Tekzone, spoke about the positive response the entertainment has created at the site: “The 3 robots arrived yesterday in the park, and they look amazing! The reactions of the staff handling them, and the visitors are fantastic!”

Rainbow Entertainments’ Simon Foulkes and export manager James Barlow will be attending IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando and will be available to talk to on the Department for International Trade stand at booth #458.



Sacoa Debit Card System, a global pioneer in providing cashless payment systems to the entertainment industry, will be showcasing its latest products at IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando.

Among the new products on display at Sacoa’s booth at the upcoming Expo will be the Spark reader, the M-POS – Mobile POS -, and the Zodiac – the Administrative Console.

The Spark is a 2.8” HD colour reader, equipped with RFiD and NFC reading capability. This low-cost, small-footprint card reader is designed to enhance the consumer experience with its backlight colouring, which can be adjusted to show age-restrictions, promotions, tickets awarded, and more.

The M-POS is compact and portable, providing all the features that the desktop POS can manage, including Playcard analysis, sale and recharge, retail merchandise, and more. The M-POS supports RFID and magnetic Playcard swipes, printing and game emulation.

Zodiac is Sacoa Playcard responsive, user-friendly and boasts a multilingual system configuration tool. As it is internet-operated, the Zodiac allows the configuring of any system detail, whether it’s from a desktop computer, a tablet or smartphone.

Configurable items include POS, game pricing and M-POS products and buttons, product stock and security.

Sacoa has more than 1800 installations in 70 countries globally. The forward-thinking company is constantly working on developments to assist operators of the entertainment industry and their customers.

Sacoa will be showcasing its latest products at booth #603 at IAAPA Expo 2019 in Orlando on November 19 to 22.



RCI Adventure Products, formerly known as Ropes Courses Incorporated (RCI), are to debut their new brand and products at this year’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando.

The recently revamped adventure attractions leader will display their new products at the expo, alongside a crew of sales professionals and authorised distributors to talk to attendees.

RCI will also be showcasing a Sky Trail aerial attraction, featuring new features, including a pioneering multi-activity Clip ‘n Climb configuration.

The company will be unveiling two new innovative products, the Adventure Trail and the Destination series, a product line with three different models.

Without participant weight or height requirement prior to entrance, the Adventure Play is open to all ages and abilities. The adventure attraction involves participants climbing up the net ‘elevator’ and then proceeding through towers, bridges and exit slides that are interconnected.

The Destination series comprises of three large-scale individual entertainment hubs, each containing five core attractions for participant interaction – a Sky Trail with multiple Sky Rails, Clip n’ Climb climbing activities, Adventure Trail netplay and a Sky Tykes.

RCI, as it has been known for years, decided to officially change its name to RCI Adventure Products to reflect the expansion of the company’s products more fittingly, as the adventure attraction manufacturer offers a lot more than just ‘rope courses.’

As, noting the reason behind the name change, Jim Liggett, president and founder of RCI, commented: “This company was founded 30 years ago with the name ‘Ropes Courses Incorporated’ but since then, we have grown tremendously and it felt like the right time to transition into a new era of ourselves.

“The new name makes it clear that we offer more than just one product and it gives us the space we need to grow even more,” Liggett added.

Jon Weston, chief sales officer for RCI, said: “We are so proud to welcome both Adventure Trail and the Destination series to our product family as they each offer aspects not previously available through us.

“These new additions further illustrate our evolvement as a company, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer clients more expansive entertainment options.”

RCI Adventure Products is to exhibit at booth 5730 at this year’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando, which is taking place on November 19 to 22.

This will be the 16th consecutive year that RCI will have been in attendance at the IAPPA Expo held in Orlando.



MK Themed Attractions, the award-winning themed production company, has announced it is to showcase a selection of world-famous Intellectual Properties the company has created in recent months at IAAPA Expo in Orlando.

The display will include characters from Warner Bros. France, Ubisoft and Looney Tunes. Visitors heading to MK Themed Attractions’ stand will be able to feast their eyes on the blue Occamy from Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts, a Rabbids character, Bugs Bunny from Looney Tunes and a Chewbecca figure.

The company’s stand in Orlando contrasts to its booth at IAAPA Expo Europe in September, which was jungle themed, with gorillas, lions, crocodiles, crashed airplanes and trees.

Lars Nielson, a Themed Attractions specialist, explained why they have opted to showcase IP characters at the forthcoming exhibition. “We believe the industry has become aware of our capabilities within comprehensive themed production, as we over the last couple of years, have grown our portfolio of large-scale themed projects with some of the most well-known amusement parks in Europe,” said Nielson.

“During IAAPA Expo Europe we won a European Star Award for helping the brand new theme of Colossos – Kampf der Giganten come to life, which contribute to this understanding, so now we want to show the attraction industry that we are also trusted by companies such as Warner Bros. France, Ubisoft and Looney Tunes, to produce their world famous IP characters,” Nielson added.

MK Themed Attractions will be exhibiting at booth #E7612 at IAAPA Expo in Orlando, which is taking place on November 19 to 22, 2019.