In a sleepy, nondescript lot away from the lights of the Vegas strip lies the Pinball Hall of Fame — home to around 400 vintage pinball machines (and some arcade cabinets) from the 1940s through to present day. Best of all, they’re almost all playable. I took some time out from the Consumer Electronics Show to make a pilgrimage this week. Here’s what I discovered.
Turns that that the museum is now a legitimate non-profit and actually relies on people coming through to play the games for a few 25 cent coins (quarters) each go.
I met founder Tim Arnold who not only owns all the games, but repairs and maintains them for a new generation to discover. Apparently, Tim and his brother did pretty well in the 70s and 80s when they owned and operated ‘Pinball Pete’s’ in Lansing, Michigan. Pacman was big business.
In the 90s, Tim sold his share, moved to Vegas, and started donating thousands to The Salvation Army, a charity he feels actually places money where it’s needed.
Even though his museum is now in a bigger location than where it was originally, he still has rows of gum ball machines where the money goes to charity.
I had never played Donkey Kong, Defender or Pong the way they were originally imagined, cabinet and all. I had no concept of what a pinball machine from the 1948s would play like.
It was great.
And definitely a place you should check out if you’re ever in Vegas.
Entry is free – it’ll only cost you a few quarters. That, and an afternoon well spent.