The theater goes dark. A neon-green laser beam pierces the air and explodes on the screen in front of you. You are jolted from your seat as an electric guitar riff screams at you from 42 speakers and slices through your skull.
But in a good way.
Take a break from the Florida sunshine and get acquainted with your dark side, at a good old-fashioned rock music and laser light show. Not for the faint of heart, these shows crank up classic rock tunes from the likes of Aerosmith, Journey and Pink Floyd, and pair them with a kaleidoscope of special effects, from laser beams to fog to strobe lights.
The shows start in the twilight hours at venues around Florida, popping up at planetariums and IMAX theaters after the kiddies go home and the head-bangers come out to play.
The laser and rock mix attracts a motley crew of fans. You’ll find everything here from aging rockers looking to relive their glory days to middle-aged parents trying to impress their tweens. Besides the old-school diehards – some still trying to grow out their mullets – there’s a fresh crop of fans, mostly teens who cut their teeth on classic rock while playing Guitar Hero.
So unpack the faded Van Halen concert shirt, join the party and psyche yourself up for a blast from the music scene's past.
Just don't forget your air guitar.
The Rock Hall of Fame show includes 45 minutes of classic rock ‘n roll faves set to mind-boggling computer-generated animation. Shows are in The Bishop Planetarium, which got a new state-of-the-art projection system in October 2013. Rock out to 25,000 watts of surround sound, just for you and 125 of your best buds. Monthly shows feature tunes from The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd.
South Florida Museum
201 10th St. West
Bradenton, FL 34205
The Laser Light Experience at the AutoNation IMAX Theater fuses
laser graphics with a 15,000-watt, 42-speaker digital sound system. The 300-seat theater offers 30 to 45 electric minutes of sound and light on a 60- by 80-foot screen, the only Certified Giant Screen in Florida. Weekend shows feature music by Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, among other classic vinyl artists.
Museum of Discovery and Science
401 Southwest Second St.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
Museum information: 954-467-MODS
IMAX showtimes: 954-463-IMAX
Laser Rock Concerts feature a wide spectrum of music, from retro to techno to popular rock, in its state-of-the-art laser shows. An old school offering for 30 years, the shows are broadcast from a 1,500-watt sound system in a 96-seat theater. (The sound system is being updated in summer 2014.) Weekly shows feature Metallica, ‘70s and ‘80s artists and Pink Floyd.
The Museum of Arts & Sciences
352 S. Nova Road
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Classic rock lives on in the 20,600-watt Downtown Digital Dome, with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound under the planetarium's 360-degree multimedia dome. The 128-seat theater boasts Digistar 3, the world's first integrated digital planetarium system. The best of rock’s heaviest hitters, from U2 to three different Pink Floyd shows, are featured here.
Challenger Learning Center
200 South Duval St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Cosmic Concerts, a galaxy of laser lights and images colliding with 35,000 watts of digital sound power, are featured at the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium. Home to laser light shows since 1975, the largest single-lens planetarium in the world now boasts 5.1 Dolby Digital on 20 speakers and a Pleiades Red, Green, Blue LED Cove Lighting Advanced System. You’ll find a bounty of retro tunes, including Motown, The Beatles, Queen, Metallica, U2 and Pink Floyd, as well as some surprises, like Jimmy Buffett and a country music show.
Museum of Science & History
1025 Museum Circle
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Fabulous First Fridays include a free planetarium show, telescope viewing, a kids’ activities room and a line-up of laser shows. Hosting laser shows since 1975, the Space Transit Planetarium has a four-story high and seven-story wide dome, where 13,500 watts of surround sound are blasted from 23 speakers. The 231-seat theater boasts a Pop Family Show with Top 40s music, along with classic rock shows such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. You’ll find a Bob Marley show, too. And why not? Even in the dark, it’s still the tropics.
Miami Science Museum
3280 South Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33129