Making Millions In The Dark
That's the thing about a 'blog', just how do you approximate a dinosaur's roar???? He's a big fella too, his head popping out of a crate in the work shop at Sally Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida.
And if it's not dinosaurs it's talking raccoons, singing bears, dancing skeletons or LBJ. Yup, that LBJ. The former President can still spin a yarn, as soon as they flip the switch.
"It's easy to look at a company such as ourselves and say, 'What a neat little high tech company it is. They have computers, they've got robots', but it's not technology at all. We're in the entertainment business." So says Howard Kelly, Sally's President, as we stand in a room full of latex heads.
Sally invented the use of latex in animatronics and on every shelf in this place you'll see 'somebody' you recognize. There's the 'Governator', there's MLK. It's weird and allot of fun.
"It's the original dark ride." Sally CEO John Wood is referring to the Tunnel of Love. "Some days it was darker than others for me," she says as we walk past a skeleton crew for some ride they're building. That's what Sally really does, build 'dark' rides. Those amusement park staples in which couples or families sit in cars on rails and travel through the dark, happening upon pirates or ghouls and goblins. Of course, it has become allot more sophisticated than that these days.
"The customers want to shoot back. They want to actually interact with the characters in the ride," Wood says. He also says that's what has set Sally apart worldwide. The ability of its engineers and artists to allow you and I not only to ride in the dark but to become part of it.
Zap. Pow. Ka-blooie!!!!! I've always wanted to write that in a story sometime. But it is exactly what I'm doing. Zapping and Powing in the dark with a bunch of kids. We're shooting at characters in one of Sally's rides and the kids are cleaning my clock.
Sally has been at this for 30 years and is one of only five companies in the world in the 'dark' ride business. It is very successful, the market driven by upgrading of amusement parks and rides domestically and the new markets in Asia and Europe. Seems everyone likes things that go bump in the night.
So with computers making life-like characters talk and animate how do you tell the real thing from the not so real? John? Howard? Hey, guys...ah guys.... anyone have a flashlight???
MOA is under the seat in car 6--see you along the road.
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