SeaWorld Unveils New Raft, 4 Disney Attractions Win Awards at Orlando’s IAAPA Expo

Orlando is currently hosting the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions Expo, the tourism industry’s largest trade show in Orlando. The IAAPA Expo runs from November 14th through the 17th and provides companies in the field an opportunity to highlight their technology, ride mechanics, and strategies.

The first bit of news to come out of the expo comes from SeaWorld Entertainment, who brought an example of the rafts that guests can expect when the upcoming attraction Infinity Falls opens.

Infinity Falls will posses the world’s largest river raft drop, 40 feet, and will take guests on an adventure with a team of scientists as they explore the rain forest. Orlando Business Journal spoke with Brian Morrow, SeaWorld’s senior vice president of experience design, who explained how the raft itself was conceived.

“We knew we wanted to build a river raft ride, because from a product category, it’s missing in our park. And we need a family attraction. We chose a very science-forward design with very edgy colors. That was purposefully to show that science isn’t always dirty and rough and old lanterns in wooden boxes. Science is modern. Drones are being used — so in our queue lines, you will see drones being used to study the forest canopy. So we wanted our raft to reflect science’s forward design.”

As part of SeaWorld’s ‘Park to Planet’ initiative, the ride aims to help expand awareness of the environment for guests, and encourage them to bring a pro-conservation perspective into their daily lives. Morrow talked to OBJ about ‘Park to Planet’, saying,

“It’s a fantastic north star for us. I think the power of entertainment can change the way people see the world around them. ‘Park to Planet’ helps them see a way to contribute back to the planet. We can help design how they can see it here and save it at home.”

SeaWorld announced new Sesame Street Parades coming to their San Antonio and San Diego Parks. They also spoke of a new Sesame Street-themed wooden coaster in Pennsylvania, and a virtual-reality coaster in Virginia.

The Themed Entertainment Association announced their Thea Awards at the Expo, with four Disney attractions earning recognition. Thea Awards went to (official descriptions from TEA):

  • Frozen Ever After, Norway Pavilion, Epcot, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, USA (Attraction Reimagining) – Imaginatively and purposefully staged, this immersive journey is delivered with elegance, grace and beauty, using each twist, turn and backward falling moment to full storytelling potential. New-generation Audio-Animatronic figures plus projection, special effects, scenic design and soundscape/musical score all blend seamlessly to surround guests as they float through the world of Frozen.
  • Pandora – The World of Avatar, Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, USA (Theme Park Area Development) – Based on James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster film “AVATAR,” the new, 12-acre land is a tour de force of placemaking: designed and built to be about the people, environment, culture, animals, and beauty of the Na’vi world. It is celebrated for its unparalleled level of detail and immersive qualities, touching all senses.
  • Avatar Flight of Passage, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, USA (Attraction) – This panoramic flying experience, flawlessly executed, delivers the magic and majesty of the original film, allowing guests to link to their avatars to ride on the back of a Banshee. It achieves new heights of experiential storytelling and is exemplary in how it adapts movie fiction into the park setting in a meaningful way.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, CA (Attraction Reimagining) – This exhilarating new experience is based on Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” film franchise. Disney Imagineers met the challenge by creating a thrilling, immersive adventure with brilliant content choices, leveraging what people love about “Guardians” and bringing the popular movies authentically to life.

Source/Image: Orlando Business Journal/ James Cardichi

Additional Sources: The Orlando Sentinel, Themed Entertainment Association


Dreams Unlimited Travel is committed to providing you with the very best vacation planning experience possible. Let us help you with your next Disney Vacation!