Pinball Hall of Fame Las Vegas: A Real Life Pinball Nirvana

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Ahhh pinball. The lights, the sounds, the music all set to countless movie, entertainment, sports and cartoon themes. Slipping your coin in the slot, pulling back the plunger, watching the ball cruise up the alleyway through the tunnels and up the ramps, hitting the bells, bouncing off the bumpers, falling into hidden bonus holes leading to extra bonus worlds, using your flippers to save those near misses, the frustration of TILT, the dreaded “drain” and the victory of winning a Replay! This game has got it all! Play solo or compete against others, but either way, you’re going to have a screaming good time. It’s no wonder I love all the sensory stimulation of Las Vegas casinos. I grew up with a Dad who was THE Original Pinball Wizard and can remember playing pinball and skeeball (ohhh skeeball) in arcades as young as probably 5 years of age!

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Earliest versions of this beloved arcade game date back to the mid-1600’s, with electrification and bumpers added in 1933 and flippers coming on to the scene in 1947, as the first official pinball game as we know it, Humpty Dumpty made its debut. This game has a long, lovely history around the world with manufacturers such as Gottlieb, Midway, Sega and Bally. Why oh why did the days of pinball ever fade? So, on a scorching day on a recent trip to Vegas, it came to me as a huge and welcomed surprise to learn that there is a Pinball Hall of Fame right off The Strip in Las Vegas! Yes! There really is! And what better way to spend a sweltering afternoon in Sin City?

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I was lucky enough to run into and chat for a few minutes with volunteer Manager and pinball aficionado, Mike. What an overflowing fountain of information he was! Some tidbits I picked up: Owner Tim and his brother bought Pinball Pete’s arcades in Michigan in 1971 and made a killing as the arcade fad skyrocketed. Sadly, when pinball began falling by the wayside due to the new up and coming era of video games, Pete took all of his pinball machines with him when he sold the arcades for a pretty penny and moved to Las Vegas. He actually has an entire OTHER warehouse FULL of games that simply won’t fit in the current building, which they’ve been in for 5 years now. Tim just wants people to enjoy his collection (he owns over 90% of all the games here), so he only charges $.25 per game. A QUARTER?? I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! The best part is walking around, admiring all the different games and finding all the really old ones, dating back to 1948, and reading their “bios” on the handwritten cards attached to the machine. Like a treasure hunt through the past. Mike grew up on the Jersey Shore, absolutely loved pinball and finally bought his first machine in 1954. He is still so proud of that machine. I love pinball! Love this place!

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Bring a roll or two of quarters and you can have fun for hours! Convenient location near The Strip, no charge for parking in their large lot, and long operating hours. With an average of 20,000 visitors per month and ALL PROCEEDS going to charities including the Salvation Army and a local animal shelter…yes, a Not For Profit pinball arcade. What could be more fun…and affordable?? I HIGHLY recommend this place to kids of all ages. PS..not only do they have pinball machines more or less organized by decade, but over on the far wall they even have Asteroids, Space Invaders Galaga, Ms. Pac Man, Qbert and…. CENTIPEDE!!! My all time favorite when I was a kid. It brought me right back to the days when I would go with my Dad to the Safeway grocery store and while he shopped I would hone my hand-eye coordination skills, often times getting my name on the Top Players list. And guess what? This girl’s STILL GOT IT. I managed to get the #2 slot!! I was one squealing happy girl, even thought I left with two extremely arthritic forearms! Carpel Tunnel Syndrome be damned! This was a fantastic day!

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