IAAPA Leadership Conference 2018 Held for First Time in Japan

March 20, 2018

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) recently concluded its eighth annual IAAPA Leadership Conference, held for the first time in Japan, March 6-9.

More than 170 top-level attractions industry leaders from 28 countries gathered in Osaka and Tokyo to learn from inspiring keynote speakers, attend forward-thinking education sessions, and experience one-of-a-kind tours through several Japan's most popular and unique attractions.

Conference attendees toured five of the country's most popular attractions and heard from industry executives who shared insights from Universal Studios Japan – Osaka, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Kabuki-za Theatre, Fuji-Q Highland, and Tokyo DisneySea.

Opening keynote speaker Mike Davis, senior vice president, international entertainment at Universal Parks & Resorts kicked off the conference.

Attendees then took part in education sessions that included presentations by Edwin Omura, ambassador for Asia-Pacific at KidZania, and Tomoko Chijiwa, director of human resources at Legoland Japan and Merlin Entertainments Japan.

The closing keynote was presented by Andrew Bolstein, vice president and executive managing director at Walt Disney Attractions Japan and Disneyland International.

Plans are already underway for IAAPA Leadership Conference 2019, which will be held in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Here are some participant quotes:

"What I will bring with me from this week is that, in this global industry, the key is always cultural adaptations. We've seen some examples of this at a high level this week. It was a joy to meet our Japanese colleagues, and I'm proud to be a part of this association and this industry." – Andreas Andersen, President and CEO, The Liseberg Group, Sweden

"This Leadership Conference was exceptional. We visited so many diverse attractions in three cities—it's exciting to go to new areas. We need to reach out, because there are amusement parks everywhere. To come here and show them we value their input into the industry is very valuable to us all." – Amanda Thompson OBE, Managing Director, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, United Kingdom

"Seeing how attractions operate in Japan was eye-opening for all of us, particularly from the perspective of courtesy and respect to guests. This was an opportunity for us to be more connected to these Japanese attractions, and for them to be more connected to IAAPA." – David Rosenberg, Vice President, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States

"It's been great to meet people—suppliers and operators—and get some fantastic stuff out of it. I've met many people this week in a management role, so that's given me access to people I normally wouldn't. I had no knowledge of the attractions in Japan, so it's been great to come here and learn about this vibrant part of our industry." – Darryl Webb, Owner, Downunderland Amusement Park, Australia

"Every time you visit an attraction there's something I find to take back home, so I've learned several things this week—particularly in customer and cultural service. Coming to Japan demonstrates our commitment to being a truly global association." – Kyle Allison, Owner, Andy Alligator's Fun Park, United States

"Any conference that takes you all around a country to half a dozen attractions is beyond expectation. The whole thing was incredibly inspiring to me, as a leader and manager." – Aaron Glade, Assistant Director, Attraction Operations, Melco Resorts and Entertainment, Macau

"The venues we visited captured the Japanese culture I was looking for. I will take away the camaraderie I built with key people—new people I'd never met before. I also really enjoyed the lectures that occurred prior to visiting these parks—there was a lot of value in that. Sometimes we visit attractions without understanding the history behind how they developed to what they are today. Learning that history was invaluable." – Jose Lugo, Regional Director, BRPH Architects Engineers, U.S.

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