Allen and I had the opportunity last week to visit Creative
Engineering, Inc. in Orlando -- better known as the birthplace of the
Rock-afire Explosion, the animatronic band you may remember from
Showbiz Pizza Place in the '80s. In an unassuming (and unmarked)
warehouse smack in the middle of downtown sits a huge time capsule,
once home to over 300 employees and now a relic of rotting robots and
shattered dreams. The owner, Aaron Fechter, is the only remaining
"employee" and a walk through the main floor and basement of the
warehouse is like walking through a ghost town that was vacated in
1984, everything left just as it was the day the doors were closed.
Aaron was kind enough to give us a guided tour of the enormous
warehouse, which was equal parts entertaining and depressing. The
highlight of the visit was getting to see the Rock-afire Explosion
(the very one that all of the original show tapes were programmed on)
perform -- Aaron handed us a huge document containing all of the show
tapes, letting us choose what we wanted to hear and playing us some of
his favorites. I can't quite explain the surreal nature of the visit,
seeing a robot band that I haven't seen in 20 years up close and
personal is a bit unsettling, not to mention seeing parts of said band
strewn about in various states of disrepair across thousands of square
feet of dark warehouse.
For your viewing pleasure, I have provided links to a Flickr set
of nearly 100 photos throughout both levels of the warehouse and a
series of videos. I've done my best to let you know what you're
looking at in the captions, so enjoy!
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