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ORLANDO, Florida – The IAAPA Expo is to the theme-park industry what CinemaCon or D23 is to the movie business: a massive annual trade show where vendors – in this case, ride designers, manufacturers and suppliers – showcase their latest developments and network with buyers from theme parks and other venues. It's where 40,000 attendees get a glimpse at some of the new goodies visitors can expect to find at parks in 2020.

And the IAAPA equivalent of Star Wars Day here at the Orange County Convention Center are the ride reveals, where vendors and parks hype the new rollercoasters and attractions they've been collaborating on ahead of their spring and summer debuts.

Coasters coming to parks under the SeaWorld umbrella, which also includes the Busch Gardens parks, are featured prominently at the Expo.

The trade show kicked off with the unveiling of a ride car for Iron Gwazi, the record-breaking, 206-foot-tall, 76-mph hybrid wooden-steel coaster coming to Bush Gardens Tampa next spring. Built by Rocky Mountain Construction, the vehicle features a crocodile theme.

Ride manufacturer Great Coasters International revealed one of the lead cars for Texas Stingray, which will open in 2020 at SeaWorld San Antonio. Reaching a top speed of 55 mph and dropping 100 feet, the park says that it will be the fastest and tallest wooden coaster in Texas.

Busch Gardens/SeaWorld 2020 preview:  This could be the best roller coaster in Florida ⁠— and beyond

For 2020, Premier Rides is building SeaWorld Orlando’s sixth roller coaster, Ice Breaker. I got to visit the construction site, which is located a few miles away from the convention center. The coaster will begin with multiple launches along a section of track that will include an airtime hill and a 93-foot-tall spike at a 100-degree angle.

“Not only will you get the thrill of a launch in a forward and backward direction, you’ll get a neat little bump of airtime that will increase in intensity as you gain speed with each launch,” says Brian Andrelczyk, VP of design and engineering for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. He adds that passengers will likely be surprised by the sensation of airtime while traveling backward.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia will also be getting a new coaster, the multi-launch Pantheon, in 2020. SeaWorld San Diego revealed the name of its dive coaster, Emperor, at the Expo.

The first roller coaster at sea, Bolt, will debut aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras in 2020. Maurer Rides revealed one of the ride’s motorcycle-like vehicles at its show booth. Passengers will get to control the speed of their vehicles as they meander around the deck of the ship.

An entirely new theme park, Legoland New York, is set to open next summer in Goshen,  60 miles northwest of Manhattan. Among its attractions will be the first-of-its-kind dark ride, Lego Factory Adventure. Using on-ride tracking technology, it will transform passengers into virtual Lego Minifigures and give them the ability to control the figures’ movements.

“This will be the world’s first data-driven, personalized guest experience,” says Stuart Hetherington of Holovis, the company behind the attraction. “It will be magic when it happens.” Holovis demonstrated the technology at its booth.

Representatives from Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, were on hand to talk about the park’s new attraction, the water raft ride Mystic River Falls, which debuts in 2020.

At 45 feet, it will boast the tallest raft ride drop in the western hemisphere. The attraction will be themed to the Mystic River, a mysterious body of water that actually exists beneath the park. The river flows through Marvel Cave, an attraction that dates back to 1894 and is still open for park guests to tour.

“We’re excited because we are creating something new, but we’re able to go back to the very roots of Silver Dollar City,” says president Brad Thomas, of the park, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020

Attraction design company, Triotech, announced that it will be developing a new, interactive dark ride, Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair for Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. It will reprise characters and pay homage to a classic and beloved attraction that operated at the park from 1975 to 1986.

“We want to capture the spirit, character, creativity, and originality of Knott’s Bear-y Tales,” says Ernest Yale, Triotech's founder, president and CEO. “But, we are going to use today’s technology for a new generation of riders.”

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