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Road Trip to the Pinball Hall of Fame

Remember when there were these places called 'arcades'? I’m not referring to some 20’ x 20’ room that your local movie theatre might have, or even the larger facilities out there like GameWorks or Dave and Buster’s. No, I’m talking about an honest to God arcade, where the sight owns, operates, and maintains all the machines inside. A place where the attendants actually cared more about you having a good time than making an extra fifty cents.

Welcome to the Pinball Hall of Fame. You’re gonna like it here.
My guess is you either never visited such a place, or you haven’t seen one since the late 1980’s. Well I’m here to tell you such a place exists again, and it’s a wonder to behold.
The day started off with Tom (aka ValamirCleaver) picking me up at 7am on Saturday to head on out to Vegas. Two pit stops and 4 hours later we arrived. “Pit stops and 4 hours to get to Vegas from the OC? What a bunch of ninnies!†Yeah well, it’s a good thing Tom drove only slightly over the speed limit, cause with as many cops that were out on the highway and the lead foot I possess, I would’ve had a speeding ticket or three. Besides that, the Pinball HoF doesn’t even open till 11am.
Pulling into the parking lot, there is no signage, no identifiers at all indicating there’s an arcade. There’s a bargain movie theater, a comic book store adjacent to that, four storefront windows filled with pinball machines, a bar, next to that…snap the head back into place and recognize. Four suites with the walls taken out to form a giant storefront, and all you can see is pinball. Sweet.
We hopped out and immediately saw Tim (the owner), so we made introductions. Without missing a beat, he walked us through the entire space, pointing out tables of interest, commenting on the current state of things in the arcade, what can be expected in the future, and thanking us for making the trip. I just soaked it all in. I have never been in a place with more than 20 tables at one time, and here they have one hundred fifty-one. As if that’s not enough, there’s still room for fifty more, they just haven’t brought them over yet!
The tour ended, a twenty went into the change machine, and for once Las Vegas paid me out 80 quarters. The dilemma now was where to start. Actually it wasn’t that much of a dilemma, but you do feel like you just want to put a quarter into five machines at once just cause you can. All I can say is for the next 2 hours I played nothing but late 80’s, early 90’s Williams/Bally tables.
A little after 2pm Tom and I headed over to Hooters (no surprise to anyone familiar with Valamir’s posts in the forums) and had lunch. We got back to the arcade somewhere between 3 and 4. When we left, there had only been 1 or 2 other people there. Now there was a solid dozen, and that number progressed throughout the night as people exited the movie theater. We finally left a bit after 9pm, and I felt like I hadn’t even cracked the surface of playing machines. My wrists and forearms were aching from all the flipper action, my eyes a little bleary from the long day, and my smile was ear to ear. No trip to Vegas will be without me stopping by again, that’s for sure. Got back home at half past midnight, and all I could see when I closed my eyes was plungers and bumpers and flippers and outlanes and ……..

Updated Jan 24, 2006 Written by friebus


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