The annual expo for International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions will not be held in 2020, with the theme park industry group instead planning on a virtual conference. 

The IAAPA Expo attracted 42,000 attendees to the Orange County Convention in Orlando in 2019. Held every November, the Expo had begun registration in June despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of numerous other trade shows across the country. 

Four major exhibitors had penned an open letter in August stating they would not be attending the Orlando expo in 2020, citing the health of their employees, restrictions on traveling to Florida and the  difficulty selling new rides to parks who are suffering financially during the pandemic. 

Still, IAAPA said last month that it still planned on holding an in-person event in 2020, but promised to make a final decision by Sept. 4, when the cancellation was announced.

“The continuing barriers to international and domestic travel coupled with the evolving guidance on mass gatherings, and members’ needing to focus on their businesses helped lead to this decision,” IAAPA president and CEO Hal McEvoy said in a prepared statement. “Now, more than ever, we know it’s important for you to stay connected with your colleagues and peers. With that in mind, we are currently planning an exciting, new event, IAAPA Expo: Virtual Education Conference, which will take place Nov. 16-18.”

The organization has some experience with these changes thanks to holding the IAAPA Virtual Expo Asia in July.

The IAAPA Expo is not only a showcase for latest attractions, services and equipment for everything from large theme parks to arcades, but it also features major reveals for fans. In 2019, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay used the event to debut the ride vehicle for its Iron Gwazi roller coaster. The year before, Bob Chapek, now CEO of the Walt Disney Company, gave a keynote address and announced the opening timeframe for the Disney Skyliner transportation system.

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