The South Florida Fair marks the beginning of my work year, especially since I report on fairs, festivals and amusement parks all year. So how is it that I missed this Bopping Heads thing and what happened to all the roller coasters this year?!
I attended the South Florida Fair this year with the hope of finding something new to write about. I walked around the fair and the first thing I noticed is the lack of roller coasters. It seems as though one goes missing every year. Not sure if its a safety issue or applied economics, so I thought I would dig in and find out if this anomaly was the beginning of a trend, or just isolated to the area.
I kept looking around and noticed there were also fewer temporary tattoo stands, fewer photo booths, however, many more sausage stands!
Then I noticed a very large crowd of people curiously staring inside a tent. Was it some unfortunate soul who suffered an accident, or were they giving gold away?
After peeling back a couple dozen spectators I was finally able to peak through the final two rows of amusement seekers with money in hand! It was a green screen attraction called Bopping Heads that could place your head on an animated dancing body. This was unique and extremely busy.
After finding that Bopping Heads had been operating at the fair for two years, I was a little embarrassed that I had not noticed them before. In my defense, the previous years they had not been outside in the midway where I usually focus my attention. Instead, they were stuck in between a couple of dozen food stands. I do not do fair food, which is probably why I missed them.
So, I thought, two years at the fair and still this popular? Now when I said popular, I probably understated it. If you wanted to get a video done, you had a good 30 minute wait, but that didn't seem to stop people from waiting! While there, I introduced myself to one of the workers who quite obviously didn't care that I was a reporter about to provide them with some free publicity. All I could get from him was, "Sorry, mam, you are going to have to see the owner, he's at the other location next to the big Ferris Wheel, we are swamped here and don't even have time to go to the bathroom!"
So after finding they had 2 locations in the same fair, I found out that a company called Thunder Ridge Entertainment, produced this Bopping Heads machine. "They have developed a variety of video themes, actually over 900 videos now, said John Sachet, a franchise owner from West Palm Beach. "Keeping the videos and music fresh, keeps people coming back again and again every year. It's become tradition for many people."
Those last words he had said, "again and again," remained on my mind and translated into dollar signs. Yes, it was obvious, there were people in line who have been there before. Probably last year and the year before.
I could imagine families reminiscing year after year as they watch their videos. It kind of reminds me of the Old Time Photos who have been around for decades and to this day, has never lost its popularity. It is fun, unique, and you get to choose a different theme every time you go back. In the case of Bopping Heads, its much the same, but with a powerful addition. Music. Music makes it even more relative to pop culture and probably why this thing is so popular!
As for the roller coaster? It seems as though the big Thrill Coasters in major amusement parks is putting the classic fair coasters out of business. More and more people are seeking thrills and chills when they choose to ride, and don't feel like standing in line for something that doesn't make the grade. Due to the size and the intricacies of the Thrill Coasters, they are virtually impossible as well as cost prohibitive to bring into week long fairs.
Next stop, Tampa State Fair, and then on to Oklahoma! Stay tuned!