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Live Active Cultures

Seth kicks off the season of getting with a trip to IAAPA, the world's biggest walk-through wish book for theme-park geeks

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While such arcade attractions may show up at small stateside entertainment centers, there was little on display for our local megaparks. The most impressive life-size coaster cars on the floor were bound for California (Mack’s Manta for SeaWorld San Diego) and Australia (S&S’s Green Lantern for Warner Bros. Movie World). Mostly, IAAPA made me want to hop a plane to Europe, where Mirabilandia, Legoland Billund and Europa-Park are getting wild new coasters and multimover-maker ETF is installing dark ride vehicles that travel sans tracks. Then I’d continue to Asia, assuming China’s Fantawild and OCT East parks are as cool as their IAAPA model makes them look. And while there, I’d be sure to check out the Transformers ride Universal Studios Singapore is about to unveil. If it’s really all it’s being hyped as, I may have to forgive Michael Bay for his cinematic abominations.

After my globetrotting trip, one thing is sure to bring me back to America’s amusements: the food. Fried fatand sugar-coated sugar is the real carnival come-on, and IAAPA’s endless edible samples are no exception. After decades of apathy, I was finally won over by Dippin’ Dots’ new freeze-dried cappuccino crumbles, and Robofusion ice cream drew a crowd with its sleek (but slow) synthetic sundae maker. But the big winner at this year’s IAAPA was the Keystone state, thanks to offerings from Pennsylvania stalwarts like Snyders of Hanover, Rita’s Italian Ice and Philly Pretzel Factory. The hot handouts from the latter (complete with several varieties of spicy mustard) were the best taste of the Northeast I’ve found in Orlando – at least until next year, when we’ll get the area’s first Wawa convenience store. Now that is the 2012 attraction whose opening I’m anticipating the most.

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