For the first time since the founding of Sally, IAAPA Expo has been cancelled to ensure the safety of our friends in the entertainment space. Sally Dark Rides supports the decision to prioritize the safety of our industry colleagues. But, we couldn’t let the season pass without looking back on the 40+ years of IAAPA Expo that our team at Sally has been proud to attend.

Join us as we reminisce on the unforgettable moments our team experienced at IAAPA Orlando, the most celebrated trade show in the entertainment industry. From 1978 to 2019, we’ve taken the time to reflect on Sally’s favorite products, projects, and awards that were made possible by IAAPA Expo. The evolution of Sally's legacy, booth space (and picture quality) have been documented below.

1978 marks the very beginning of our IAAPA Expo experience. Sally's IAAPA booths in the 70s consisted of Jethro P. Hogg, Daniel & the Dixie Diggers, Billy Jo and the Bluegrass Bears, and much more! 

In the early days, we used our animatronics to help companies market themselves and promote their products. We brought and Rusty Jones - a character that represented a rust-proofing product.  We introduced “Mirror Mirror”, which was a talking mirror behind a wall, the predecessor to the Tooth Fairy.  We also brought a classic Santa Claus, and general animatronics such as one that stood from a seated position.

We brought the Bearanstein Bears, and a Daniel & the Dixie Diggers show.

In 1986 Sally introduced our first interactive dark ride concept – Ghostbusters! We also displayed a potion of the Care Bears show, and a spooky Headless Man animatronic!

In 1987, Sally celebrated our 10 year anniversary. This year we brought Care Bears, to represent the two animated shows we produced (Dorney Park, and Dunia Fantasi in Indonesia).  We also had an intricate ride model for Filmation's Ghostbusters concept.

Jethro P. Hogg was the main event of Sally’s booth this year!

Entertainment at its best! We brought everything but the kitchen sink to this IAAPA Expo. We had a cross-aisle booth with Jethro plus Bubba Bear and the Badland Band on one side, and Sally’s cast of characters on the other – including Mark Twain’s head that you could self-operate. An animatronic Darwin would stand up from a seated position and explain the evolution of the dark ride. We won the award for best booth this year!

We promoted the world’s smallest dark ride at this show. We also had Electro from the Baltimore Power Plant in front, and our T-Rex in the back. Our booth received IAAPA’s Honorable Mention Award!

1991 was all about Zombie Paradise, a large scale dark ride headed to Geopolis at Tokyo Dome, Japan. These animatronic characters were certainly not for the faint-of-heart!

Our booth in 1992 featured a spiral staircase leading up to our second story conference room. On display we had animatronic Sally at the Piano, Billy Jo and the Bluegrass Band animated show, Papa Panda, and also debuted the interactive dark ride concept, The Great Pistelero Roundup.

This year we went to IAAPA in Los Angeles and featured Docero, Foster Brooks, and a Duckbill dinosaur.

In 1994, we displayed our award-winning Voyage to the Center of the Earth water-based ride at Hyland Hills Waterpark, Colorado.

This was the first time we had our interactive technology on display for Pistolero. We also brought our towering T-Rex, and Billy Jo and the Bluegrass Bears.

Sally won the IAAPA Innovation In Amusements award. Pictured we have T-Rex and a demo scene from Pistolero.

This year we featured a mini-version of Great Pistolero Roundup dark ride, and demoed the Den of Lost Thieves dark ride with an accompanying pirate animatronic.

In 1998, Sally featured the Den Of Lost Thieves dark ride with 3 scenes on a turntable. We also had our T-Rex growling at passers-by, singing birds and flowers from Ragga and the Sunshine Band, and our lifelike Movie Director stopping people in their tracks.

This year Sally featured a mini Ghost Blasters dark ride. We also debuted characters from the upcoming Labyrinth of the Minotaur dark ride for Terra Mitica.

To kick off the new millennium, Sally debuted Scooby-Doo’s Haunted Mansion - a family dark ride produced several times for Paramount Parks.

In 2001, Sally brought the Troll and Dragon from the historic, and Sally-refurbished The Old Mill boat ride at Rye’s Playland in New York.

This was the year Sally debuted The Curse of Tutankhamon and a booth of epic proportions!  This spectacular interactive dark ride takes guests on an amazing journey deep into the heart of the ancient pyramid, where the tomb of the legendary pharaoh, King Tutankhamon was hidden from the world for thousands of years. The ancient god, Seth — Lord of Destruction and Chaos has vowed to protect the sanctity of the tomb, and has unleashed the mystical terrors of the curse. Your challenge is to enter the uncharted regions of the dark passageways and find the lost treasure.  The ride featured interactive targets and digital consoles that track both individual and composite scores.  The ride later went on to receive a coveted Thea Award.

This year we brought a mini Scooby-Doo Haunted Mansion ride, which was very popular.  We also showcased Nazeer and the ride model from The Curse of Tutankhamon. Sally was also awarded with an honorable mention for Tut.

In 2004, Sally debuted Marvel’s “The Thing” and Davy Crockett’s Tall Tales dark ride. We were also awarded with The Image Award for Best Booth! 

This year we announced the upcoming Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge dark ride headed for Hersheypark.  The Reese’s sports announcers Kip and Sonny’s were great entertainment. We also brought friendly bears and a raccoons from the animated show at Great Wolf Lodge.

In 2006 we announced our most unique ride to date – Nights In White Satin: The Trip, a music-based attraction headed for the new Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, SC. We also showcased some of our recent custom attractions including the animal-filled animatronic production for Great Wolf Lodge, Gobbler Getaway at Holiday World, Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge at Hersheypark, and El Ultimo Minuto at Dinopolis. In addition, we debuted a new adventure-based dark ride concept called Forbidden Island.

In 2007, we celebrated our 30-year anniversary! We featured the legend herself, Sally behind a grand piano, our Forbidden Island dark ride concept, and showcased a portion of the upcoming Lost Kingdom Adventure dark ride for Legoland.

In 2008, we gave people chills with our Goosebumps dark ride concept featuring an animatronic version of Slappy the ventriloquist dummy.

In 2009 the show was in Vegas.  We displayed a number of dark ride concepts including Goosebumps, Ghost Blasters 2.0, Curse of Tutankhamon, and Power Blast.

In 2010, we featured the creepiest of clowns from Scream in the Dark – a ride that went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in Pattaya, Thailand. Crazy Clown, the funny yet sinister animatronic character, greeted visitors at the booth.

We showcased our dark ride project for LEGOLAND – Lost Kingdom Adventure! We also debuted a new dark ride concept - Power Blast!

This year was all about a new dark ride for Movie World in Australia, Justice League: Alien Invasion. We also brought a new Power Blast interactive display that had people gaming all day. Also on display was an incredibly realistic pirate and Indian Jagadguru.  For fun, we arranged a social media campaign that encouraged people to – “do the robot (dance), get a robot (stress reliever)!”

In 2013 we featured the highly complex animatronic, Cyborg from Justice League: Alien Invasion – a new ride for Warner Bros. Movie World in Gold Coast, Australia.  We also displayed a number of available ride concepts such as Power Blast, Challenge of Tutankhamon, and Zombie Apocalypse. This year is extremely notable because our CEO, John Wood was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. You can watch his induction video here.

2014 was a show-stopper for Sally!  We had a massive turnout for the reveal of our Joker animatronic and announcement of Justice League: Battle For Metropolis for Six Flags. We held the first multi-booth press conference with Oceaneering to showcase the prototype DOF ride vehicle for the attraction.  We also received the Best Booth award!

In 2015, Sally showcased a partnership with AMC to bring their hit TV show, The Walking Dead to life. The Walking Dead: Battle For Survival officially became a product for a park to own. The hauntingly realistic Walker animatronic was a head-turner. We showcased The House of Nightmares project for Grona Lund and the Volcanikus ride concept. The newly installed JUSTICE LEAGUE: Battle for Metropolis won Best New Product and the Impact Award!

In 2016 Sally debuted a new partnership with Scott Games Five Nights At Freddy's; it proved to be a real scream!  The Walking Dead was still turning heads and Joker was blasting people on the show floor with his laughing gas cannon. John Wood also received the Lifetime Service Award.  You can watch his induction video here.

In 2017, Sally celebrated 40 years of innovation by honoring past successes and cheering to the future. Our all-new booth featured displays and stories of Sally's most notable achievements. Each day we capped the evening with friends for an in-booth happy hour. We captured videos from everyone across the industry wishing Sally a happy 40th, and played them during happy hour. Seeing all those faces wishing us a Happy Birthday made our year. Winning an award for “Best Booth” wasn’t so bad either!

2018 took home the term “BIG” year when Big Bird announced Sesame Street: Street Mission - a first of its kind, family dark ride making its way to PortAventura World, Spain.  Street Mission was the first dark ride in the park’s history, which went on to receive the Park World Excellence Award for Europe's Best New Ride, and the European Star Award for Family Ride of the Year!

IAAPA 2019 featured characters from Garfield's Underwater Adventure, as well as a new concept from Sally and Aardman called Adventure Through Time. We also honored legend, Dick Knoeble with a lifelike bust sculpture.

We hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with Sally Dark Rides. Thank you to all for supporting Sally and our endeavors over the last 40+ years. An extra special thank you to our friends and family in the entertainment industry who help make IAAPA Expo possible, memorable, and so special each year. We hope to see you all again in 2021!