Ray Baldorossi, Jr. helped to create Softgolf by accident. As a child, he sent a miniature basketball soaring in his backyard with the help of a golf club. His father, an aerospace design engineer, took note of its trajectory and set about inventing a soft ball with holes that, as described by Tom Jackson of The Tampa Tribune, "plays remarkably like its more familiar cousin." After running the first Softgolf in southern New Jersey until the late 1980s, the family retired the business—until Baldorossi, Jr. re-established it in Tampa, this time with a twist. Instead of illuminating the course with a blend of traditional lights and the winks of fireflies, he lights the Softgolf balls from within thanks to phosphorescent materials. He also dots flags, holes, and tee boxes with solar-powered batteries and LED lights. The result: a whimsical, family-friendly game that whisks the orbs up to a distance of 70 yards along a sprawling fairway—the same number of yards owned by most 18th century robber barons.
Though entertainment fads come and go, movie theaters remain, tempting audiences with fantastical stories new and old. The film buffs behind the Tampa Pitcher Show understand this craving for narrative connection, filling their movie hall and bar space’s calendar with first-run films, alternative events, and live music that helped them take home the prize for Best Kept Secret in Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2011 Reader’s Poll. Within the theater, projectors hum to life with current hits and cult classics every night; weekends welcome special happenings that include Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow-casts, art bazaars, and comedy shows. The Take 2 Lounge dispenses a sprawling menu of bar fare, including burgers, pizzas, and beers such as Magic Hat #9, Southern Tier, and Florida Avenue Ale flowing from 13 tap lines.
Strapping on a vest, picking up a phaser, and entering the vast Laserstrike arena, players skulk through fog as pulsating music mercifully disguises their footsteps. Within the facility's 3,800 square feet, they strategize, squint, and sweat, darting between obstacles and deciding in a flash whether to seek cover or dip into enemy territory. Phasers boast different firing styles?including, sneakily enough, the ability to change color when on an undercover mission. There are also different game styles, perfect for different team sizes and for those who prefer to play catch with the vests and phasers. After the final shot is fired, players step out to examine the computerized leader boards and enjoy a full bar and food menu. After a moment of calm, they may opt to visit Laserstrike's attached ice rink?or, feeling brave, they might dive right back into another laser battle.
At first, Boing! Jump Center measured only six feet square. It sat on the tabletop of Boing! founder Michael C., who wanted to work out the best possible arrangement of bounceable surfaces before opening. Today, the center’s two trampoline arenas total 12,000 square feet of jumpable surface, where everyone has access to multidimensional springiness.
When the space isn’t being used for open-jump sessions, Boing! can be converted into an arena for trampboarding, a wakeboarding-style sport for trampolines. Or dual courts for an aerial version of dodgeball that adds jumping to the sport’s usual ducking, throwing, and curling up into a ball once you’re out. During breaks between aerial activities, guests can stop by the Boing! arcade, which rewards players with goodies from its prize center. The newly renovated game center also hosts combo deals, including a college night.
The Fanboy Expo, like stepping through the screen of a blockbuster superhero movie, brings comic and movie fans face-to-face with their favorite characters, actors, and artists. For two days, costumed attendees hob-nob with the Highlander, talk shop with Jerry "The King" Lawler , or chat with Lorenzo Lamas about his much publicized transition from starring in Renegade to opening his petting zoo, Lorenzo Lamas' Llamas. In addition to meeting celebrities from silver and small screen sci-fi and fantasy hits, comic book fans can also pick their favorite artist and creator's brain, snagging an autograph in the process. Should they find themselves in need of a new action figure or collectable t-shirt, fans can make their way to a number of merchandise and memorabilia dealer booths throughout the event space.
Designed by racing expert Franky Zapata, the FlyBoard combines the waterborne summer fun of a jetski with the long-held human dream of flying by shooting riders up to thirty feet in the air using bursts of water from a personal jet-propusled platform. An on-deck electronic management kit, killswitch, and throttle allow users to control the flow of water from the pilot's feet and arms, giving riders the ability to perform in flips, spins, and aerial tricks as they loup-de-loup above the water's surface, or dive like rocket-propelled dolphins under the waves. After spending 5–20 minutes mastering the balance and control of the FlyBoard, customers will be zooming through the air like a famous man of steel, or zooming to glory like the hero in the totally underrated 1991 action/drama The Rocketeer.