Visit Orlando

Walt Disney World may be the happiest place on earth, but in late February, the Orange County Convention Center may be the most upbeat.

With consumer confidence the highest it has been in six years and demand for pools and spas rebounding, the industry — along with solar professionals — will gather in Orlando for the Everything Under the Sun Expo. Organized by the Florida Swimming Pool Association, the annual trade show expects to host more than 4,000 attendees and 250 exhibitors on 120,000 square feet of show space.

“I think they are all seeing what we are hearing — that 2014 is going to be the turnaround year,” said Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of FSPA.

To help their members and attendees make the most of this long anticipated economic upswing, this year’s expo features 80 courses, 68 of which are new. The educational classes, which are free to FSPA members, includes mandatory courses required by the state as well as more targeted seminars for builders, techs, retailers, solar professionals and others.

The expanded solar offerings are a result of the decision to combine the Orlando Pool & Spa Show with the Solar Energy Show, given the frequent, but often fragmented, overlap between the two industries. (Many energy-efficiency experts recommend solar as an effective, low-cost way to heat outdoor pools.)

Parker Barsell hopes the combined expo will begin closing those gaps among pool builders, techs, solar professionals, specialty contractors, and government officials. “There are so many different contractors involved in solar — electricians, plumbers,” Parker Barsell said. “We want to engage everyone in realizing what the potential is for solar in Florida.”