Long before each year's AOPA Expo, the folks in the association's convention and meetings division put a lot of effort into planning the annual event at a locale that would be worth the trek in its own right — even though the Expo always offers plenty in its own right for attendees to do. Last year, for example, the Expo was held amid the bright lights and ballyhoo of Las Vegas. The year before, New Orleans lent its spicy southern flavor to the convention and industry exhibit. This year will be no exception to the trend. Just like all those athletes proclaim on television, "We're goin' to Disney World!"
AOPA Expo '93 will be held November 3 through 6 in Orlando, Florida, with headquarters right at Walt Disney World. With all that Walt Disney World has to offer and, as usual, a very full plate of exhibits, seminars, and other programs for pilots and spouses alike, this year's event promises to be one of the biggest and most successful to date.
The center of the action will be the Walt Disney World Dolphin, headquarters hotel for Expo '93. A luxury hotel strategically located in the heart of Walt Disney World, the Dolphin features a sandy beach, health club, multiple swimming pools and tennis courts, and nine restaurants from which to choose.
And this year, for the first time on the East Coast, static display aircraft will be placed on view right at the hotel. They will be taxied from the nearby Walt Disney World STOLport and will arrive at Expo headquarters in the wee hours of the morning, as they have in past conventions in Las Vegas. This will allow all major Expo exhibits and events to take place right at Expo headquarters, with no need to shuttle to a nearby airport to take in the static display.
This year, there will be two official destination airports if you are planning to fly to the Expo in your own airplane. Both Kissimmee (ISM) and Orlando Executive (ORL) airports are within about 25 minutes of Disney (call 800/942-4269 for fly-in procedures, which should be available October 1). An aircraft judging contest will take place at Kissimmee. If you're looking for a kindred aviation type to share the flying with you, AOPA's Share-A-Flight Service will help put you in touch. Check the registration form for more information. And wherever you plan to fly in from, Florida offers perennial VFR weather, so it should be a good flight.
If you plan to arrive by airline, fare discounts are available for Expo attendees from Delta Airlines, either through the AOPA Travelers Club (800/888-AOPA) or directly through Delta (800/241-6760). Either way, be sure to mention the AOPA group number, N0855. When you get into town, you might want to take advantage of the car rental discounts offered by Hertz, either through the AOPA Travelers Club or Hertz (800/654-2240). The Hertz car rental group number is 10788. AOPA has made arrangements with five area hotels to accommodate you, with rates ranging from $31 to $137 a night.
However you get to the Expo, you will find no shortage of things to do after you arrive. In addition to the host of traditional Expo happenings, this year will feature a New York Street Party at Universal Studios and reduced ticket rates for Walt Disney World, Epcot Center, Magic Kingdom, Disney/MGM Studios, and Pleasure Island. After a day of activities in the sun, you can relax poolside in the shade of swaying palms. If all that isn't enough to keep the nonpilots in the family busy, there will be an array of spouse programs, from the popular Pinch-Hitter Ground School to seminars titled "The Family as a Team," "Lighten Up," and more.
Of course, if you are a pilot, you definitely will have come to the right place. Dozens of daily programs — some 90 seminar hours in all — will address subjects of interest to pilots across the broad spectrum of general aviation. Topics from aircraft taxes to seaplane flying to aviation careers or FAA enforcement will be presented by speakers well versed in their subject matter. Other topics will include aviation computer software, building kitplanes, buying an aircraft, keeping your medical certificate...really, far too many to mention here (an Expo schedule accompanies this article).
In addition to the seminar schedule, there will be an estimated 45 airplanes in the static display awaiting your scrutiny, including the "Good as New 172" AOPA Sweepstakes airplane (see "Good as New 172: Engine Overhaul, August _Pilot_). This year's Expo also will feature the largest exhibit hall ever. The hall, open daily, will be packed with 243 booths occupied by various aviation groups and companies profferring the latest in avionics, headsets, pilot gear, and all kinds of products and services of interest to people who fly. Instead of poring over yellow ad pages for that hand-held or leather jacket you've been hankering for, you can check them out in person and talk directly to the people offering them for sale. A full slate of product demonstrations will allow you to see how the latest aeronautical gadgets operate and address questions about them straight to the horse's mouth.
The annual welcome reception, luncheon, and awards banquet will give you the chance to renew old friendships or make new ones and to hear presentations by AOPA President Phil Boyer and other speakers scheduled to include the new administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. A highlight to the social programs will be a special party at Universal Studios, which will include dining, dancing, and entertainment — as well as exclusive access to several Universal Studios attractions.
Other aviation organizations — Cessna and Piper owner organizations, flying physicians, and more — also will be taking advantage of Expo '93 to hold their own formal meetings, not to mention the many informal get-togethers that take place throughout the week.
It should be pretty obvious by now that, whether you come for a day or the entire Expo, you certainly won't have to worry about being bored. And a variety of registration options will allow you to spend as little or as much time at Expo '93 as your schedule allows. Discount advance registration options include the Modified Package Plan, which costs $125 ($95 for spouses and guests), and the Full Package Plan, which costs $250 ($175 for spouses and guests). The modified package includes three days of seminars; unlimited access to the exhibit hall, product demonstrations, and static aircraft display; and the Wednesday evening welcome reception. The full package covers three days of seminars; unlimited admission to the exhibit hall, product demonstrations, and static aircraft display; the welcome reception; the Thursday luncheon; the party at Universal Studios on Friday; the closing banquet on Saturday evening; and an AOPA Expo '93 souvenir. On-site registration packages (not sold in advance) will include a one-day exhibit pass and one-day exhibit/seminar pass. The exhibit-only pass will cost $20 for AOPA members and $30 for nonmembers. The exhibit and seminar pass will cost $40 for members and $65 for nonmembers. For more information or to register, call 800/942-4269; outside the United States, call 301/695-2060.
So whether you're coming to shop, to have some fun, to broaden your knowledge and skills as a pilot, or — like most of us — for all of the above, be sure to mark out the first week of November for Expo '93. And we'll see you in Orlando!