ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico film industry has brought in millions of dollars over the years in direct and supplementary spending for production. But it’s also helped create a niche in tourism that has provided lucrative careers for New Mexico entrepreneurs.
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Spend any time driving the streets of Albuquerque and you’re bound to see the retro, dilapidated RV made famous by the Sony Pictures tv series Breaking Bad. While you won’t find Walter White or Jesse Pinkman, behind the wheel, you will meet a couple of super fans who turned their devotion to the series into a lucrative career.
Frank and Jackie Sandoval were both tethered to the corporate world before a pair of layoffs changed the trajectory of their careers. “If Breaking Bad did not exist, or Better Call Saul, or El Camino now, I mean, we would not be in business. We owe everything to the film industry,” they said. “A friend from Florida said, ‘Well, you guys should start a breaking bad tour, but you oughta do it in a breaking bad RV.”
The Sandovals found the first of three Fleetwood Bounders in Arizona, and learned quickly that the upkeep on their prized rides wouldn’t be an easy task. “Boy, did we have a hard time bringing it back. The fuel pump in the rear was put on backwards, so as the mechanical pump was pulling gas, the one in the back was trying to send it back into the gas tank,” Frank said.
After thousands of dollars in repairs and renovations, the first Breaking Bad RV tour debuted at the 2015 Albuquerque Comic-Con, giving devout fans an opportunity to see iconic filming locations in the seats of a tricked out “Crystal Ship.”
“We just started doing the tour business full-time, and it’s been great ever since, I’m shocked it’s still going. It’s getting busier,” Jackie said.
Since launching their small business, Frank and Jackie have hosted thousands of fans from all across the country, and the globe, underscoring the worldwide popularity of Breaking Bad, and that popularity has translated into a living carved out by passion and ingenuity.
Although the Breaking Bad universe is now more than a decade old, the Sandovals don’t see interest in their tours slowing down any time soon, especially with the final season of Better Call Saul set to bow in 2022. “I think it’s more popular now than when we started the tours. We’re seeing a whole new generation of fans now. These are people that had not watched it before, that are actually watching it now. And with all the binge watching going on, I’m seeing an uptick in popularity that’s just unbelievable.”
The RV tour departs from Old Town throughout the week and takes approximately 3 hours to complete, and the company also offers a virtual tour on their website.