Get your phones ready! This Instagram-ready playground just opened at Bridgewater Commons

·4 min read

BRIDGEWATER – Posing for that break-the-internet selfie or group shot just got easier and tons more fun.

Open since Black Friday, POP! at Bridgewater Commons is an interactive photo playground with 15 Instagram-ready rooms to explore and capture shareable pics and videos.

Located on the lower level across from Build-A-Bear Workshop, the themed rooms are both modern and retro and include four different "photo-booth" settings. The painted walls and halls that lead from one room to the next also make good photo ops.

A first for the Garden State, POP! is the brainchild of Scot Redman and BAYMO, his group of creators back home in Texas, where the first POP! opened in 2019 at Galleria Dallas.

"We wanted to provide people with professional photographs and the ability to take fun photos with their phone," said Redman, a professional photographer who was inspired to create POP! after a similar road trip experience. "We said 'lets do it' and now, New Jersey is our second spot."

As visitors head inside the pop-up installation, built by Bayer Brothers Sets, they find themselves in a 1970s mint green laundromat with faux machines and black and white checkered floors.

Around every corner are photo moments, such as a curved bright-white photography studio or a vibrant tunnel of music and light a la The Weeknd at the 2021 Super Bowl.

There's a disco-esque room with mirror ball and tiles, a hall of lights that change colors, an arcade area with mini games, and a black light and a space covered in crinkled silver foil.

POP! visitors receive an activated wristband and connect their phone and email before entering.

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Once the "photo booth" snaps start, they can see their processed shots in live time, uploading instantaneously into a running gallery and ready to be posted and shared. Scanning the wristband allows for the "photo-booth" style shots to be taken at four sets — disco, laundromat, beach and studio — which have integrated cameras and lighting. For an additional $5 each, hard-copy 6-by-8 prints can be purchased.

Redman said some people stay for two hours, others 20 minutes. Some want to beef up their Instagram posts, while others come to use the backdrops for their holiday cards or milestone announcements. The experience is what you make it, he said.

Scanning the wristband allows for the "photo-booth" style shots to be taken at four sets — disco, laundromat, beach and studio — which have integrated cameras and lighting.
Scanning the wristband allows for the "photo-booth" style shots to be taken at four sets — disco, laundromat, beach and studio — which have integrated cameras and lighting.

"We wanted to create something that wasn't just for millennials — we wanted families to come in and have a good time. So, POP! at Bridgewater Commons is all things color, fun, art, lights and cameras," said Redman, whose concept team is made up of 30 designers, artists and photographers.

"The experience is full of pop culture references, multimedia visuals and more," Redman said. " ... Guests can alter their individual experience each time through. People get so creative — it really surprises us."

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Bridgewater Commons says POP!, which runs through May 31, 2022, is a good fit for them.

" ... Opening the new activation in a 5,000-square-foot space has given its creators the ability for even more whimsy and innovation, which we know will instantly 'wow' the thousands of Bridgewater Commons guests we expect to entertain over this limited time engagement," said marketing director Tom Kovacic.

POP! visitors receive an activated wristband and connect their phone and email before entering. Each photo opportunity, complemented by lighting and sound, allows for sharable photos and videos.
POP! visitors receive an activated wristband and connect their phone and email before entering. Each photo opportunity, complemented by lighting and sound, allows for sharable photos and videos.

Special POP! events are in the works, said Redman and Kovacic. These may include pet-friendly days and seasonal or themed tie-ins.

COVID-19 safety strategies are in place for POP!, including high-frequency cleanings, face mask requirements (except when taking photos), touchless photo booths (thanks to the wristbands) and aspace designed to allow distance between each group of guests.

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"You do not have to interact with anything besides waving your wristband at the sensor," Redman said. "It's like the old-timey photo booth but updated for today."

There is no time limit once inside, but reservations are required at www.bridgewaterpop.com. Tickets start at $22, $8 for children under 12.

Email: cmakin@gannettnj.com

Cheryl Makin is an award-winning features and education reporter for MyCentralJersey.com, part of the USA Today Network. Contact: Cmakin@gannettnj.com or @CherylMakin.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: POP! at Bridgewater Commons: Photo playground now open for Instagrams