He’s a Pinball Wizard


A couple of weeks ago, Bernie and I took a ride to The Center in the Square in Roanoke to check out their new pinball museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the science & history of pinball. It’s only about a half and hour from The Oaks Victorian Inn and a great way to spend an afternoon. Your $10 ticket gives you unlimited play for the day on some great old and more recent machines. There are over 50 of them, some dating as far back as the 1930’s. The artwork on these machines is incredible. Some of its pretty racy too. I loved being immersed in the pings and dings and lights and music.

There’s a really cool Indiana Jones machine. It plays that familiar Indiana Jones theme song and lots of recorded dialog from the movies. I recognized all the lines. There’s a Dirty Harry and an Elton John machine too. The automated bowling game where you shoot a small ball at pins that flip up when struck is the oldest one they have.  As you progress from older to newer machines you see the subtle changes. Back in the 1960’s the bumpers had scores of 10 or 20 points and a high game was around 1000 points if you were really good. In the 70’s the bumpers were 100’s and 1000’s with high games scoring in the millions.

I must have played at least 20 different machines. I think the ones I like best are those with very quick flipper action. Others have really intricate pathways and you never know where the ball is going to reappear when you shoot it down a hole. A 1970s-era machine named Fireball shoots a pinball across a spinning disc in the middle of the machine. That one is a lot of fun.

The museum is open 6 days a week, closed on Monday.  Tuesday night is Member’s Night and is closed to the general public from 5 pm to 8 pm. Here are the high scores to beat…Good luck.


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