My husband and I were recently in Orlando, FL and had the pleasure of spending the evening with Aaron Fechter, creative mastermind behind the beloved animatronic rock band The Rock-a-fire Explosion, firmly entrenched in any 80’s child’s memory of going to Showbiz Pizza Place. Not familiar? Showbiz Pizza was the precursor to what we know today as Chuck-E-Cheese, a story chronicled so well in the most excellent documentary “The Rockafire Explosion.” Check it out (Netflix or Youtube). And that’s where our story starts.
Several years ago, my husband and I were enjoying a newlyweds Friday date night in when we stumbled across this documentary on Netflix. This image flashed upon our screen:
And I was instantly transported back to my childhood summers in the 80’s/90’s in Wrightsville Beach, NC where my cousins and I loved to go to Showbiz Pizza. Here’s my Delorean now…..
My cousin and I celebrating her birthday, circa 1989.
As it turns out, 1989 was one of the last years before the Showbiz Pizza concept was converted to Chuck-E-Cheese. Then everything changed. And, as the documentary so brilliantly captures, everything was wrong. The magic was gone.
Not so fast. Because as it turns out, when the Rockafire Explosion was removed from Chuck-E-Cheese in the early 90’s, the 100 some “shows” of these animatronic characters did not just disappear into oblivion. Many were purchased by restaurant investors overseas, many were saved for & purchased by now-30 something fans (again, Youtube) and one remains in the Creative Engineering warehouse of inventor Aaron Fechter in Orlando, Florida. Where Aaron will gladly oblige any Rockafire fan with a 3 hour private tour. Enter the Ricks pack.
This was one of the most unique and entertaining evenings we have ever had. Aaron indulged us with many songs by the band, spanning the Beatles to Springsteen to the Oakridge Boys (scroll to the bottom for a special treat) and even CeeLo Green, followed by a tour of his still-working warehouse, which includes an archive of past characters and ones in future development. Enjoy a few pictures & videos from this evening.