A few weeks ago, I was able to spend some time in Las Vegas. Technically, it was a work thing for my guy, but when I wasn’t helping out, I was hitting the pool, checking out the World Series of Poker, and taking advantage of the free Cherry Cokes in the casino.
However, one thing on my agenda was non-negotiable: I needed to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame.
It’s not located right there on the strip, so I had to actually plan a bit. It wasn’t hard, though; cabs are readily available in that town, and there’s a bus line that goes right where it needs to.
The Pinball Hall of Fame lurks, unassuming, in a standard shopping plaza. The untrained eye might miss it, but luckily they give exterior shots of the place on their website.
Inside, it’s a time warp of the best kind. Multiple rows of pinball machines, from the 1950s ’til today, fill the span of the store. The back row is comprised of classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Paperboy, and an air hockey machine (another love). An old-fashioned vending machine gives cans of soda and bottles of water, and the coin machines give quarters, not tokens.
You see, this might be a museum of sorts, but it’s all playable. I was far from the only customer on a Sunday afternoon, and the room was humming with music and dialogue from each machine.
Pretty much every machine I could ever recall playing was represented. There were actually two copies of the Doctor Who machine, and even a random one called “Comet” that I fondly remember as my first experience with pinball.
I spent quite a bit of time playing every game that remotely seemed interesting, and probably my two favorites were a Star Wars machine, complete with disco soundtrack, and one for the movie Stargate – it gave seemingly endless extra games and chances. Of the non-movie variety, I loved one called Space Shuttle – over a week later, I still have a mechanical voice in my head telling me the cargo bay doors are open.
I didn’t know this until I returned home, but the Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization; excess money gets donated to the Salvation Army, as well as other non-denominational charities. Apparently there are signs about this posted everywhere, but maybe I was overwhelmed by its sheer awesomeness.
All in all, it was a satisfying few hours spent – much more so than watching my money spin away in a slot machine. The Pinball Hall of Fame promises only a venue full of machines from the last 50 years, and it more than delivers. My only regret is that it’s all the way across the country, and not in my home town.