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VIDEO: Five days of boats and fun - Soundings Online

VIDEO: Five days of boats and fun

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The 54th Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show — the largest in-water boat show in the world — starts Thursday.

The show, which runs through Monday, features more than 1,000 exhibitors, 1,500 boats and more than 3 million square feet of exhibit space, including nearly 10 miles of docks, at six venues.

The total value of boats exhibited at last year’s show exceeded $3 billion.

Show Management, which produces the show, continues to refine operations with the return of the Sailfish Pavilion in a new area behind the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and the addition of the 228-foot exhibition yacht SeaFair, which will serve as a fine art gallery and a VIP lounge and offer upscale dining.

The show continues its northward expansion at the Las Olas Marina with an additional 20 slips for boats between 70 and 100 feet.

Click play for a look at what to expect in Fort Lauderdale.

New this year, a color-coding system helps visitors find their way from place to place. Each major section of the show along the Intracoastal Waterway is marked with a different color. Maps distributed at the show have the color codes, and large “You are here” maps are placed around the event. In addition, Show Management’s website offers several pages in Spanish.

A network of bus shuttles, water taxis and riverboats also will help people navigate the show.

At the gate, a major redesign of the entrance will feature a high roof, entertainment and decorations designed to create a “warm, welcoming” presence, organizers said.

Themed villages have been expanded and the free MyBoatShow app was improved to provide quicker map access. Visitors who already have the app automatically receive the new version, as well as updates throughout the show.

There are also a couple of name changes this year. PassageMaker magazine’s TrawlerPort has been renamed CruiserPort, and what was known as the SYBAss (Superyacht Builders Association) Pavilion is now The Superyacht Experience.

In response to last year’s fireworks display, the first day of the show will culminate with a “bigger and better” fireworks launched from the roof of the Bahia Mar, beginning at 7 p.m.

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is owned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. Show Management also produces the St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach, the Palm Beach International Boat Show and the Suncoast Boat Show — all Florida events. Active Interest Media owns Show Management, as well as Soundings, Soundings Trade Only, PassageMaker, Yachts International, Power & Motoryacht and Sail magazines, and BoatQuest.com.

— Rich Armstrong and Reagan Haynes