Written by Oryx
For those who fondly remember the clicking and blinking of pinball machines, here are some places where you can still admire these masterpieces of pop culture – and play them, too.
Pacific Pinball Museum, San Francisco
This museum in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, has dozens of pre-1960s, wooden-framed pinball machines, and 90 machines overall, arranged in a chronological order that makes it easy to see their evolution over time. Among the highlights are a transparent 1970s model that lets you see the mechanism, and a 1930s art deco machine known as a ‘Bally Bumper’. You can play them all, and the museum shop sells pinball-themed merchandise.
Los Angeles, USA
Distance: 13,366 km
Flight Time: 16 hours, 25 minutes
Hungarian Pinball Museum, Budapest
Who knew pinball was so old? The oldest form of the game here dates from 1871 and is little more than a wooden board; you can also admire some of the 1940s machines that first introduced flippers to keep the ball in play and the early digital displays of the 1970s. You can play with all 130-odd machines (some themed on Godzilla, aliens, and horror movies) in this hands-on collection brought together by pinball fanatic Balázs Pálfi. The museum also features Pac-Man, the arcade game that took the world by storm in the 1980s.
Distance: 3,757 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 55 minutes
German Pinball Machine Museum, Neuwied
There’s plenty of interesting information on the history, manufacturers, and technology behind pinball machines at this museum near Koblenz. Some 150 machines are on display, dating from the 1930s onwards. Try out the owners’ two favourites, the Indiana Jones and the Black Knight 2000 – though you’ll have to exchange your euros for some of the old Deutschmarks at the ticket counter to get these venerable machines to work.
Distance: 4,316 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 35 mins
Frequency: 2 flights a day
Japan Game Museum, Inuyama
A ‘pleasant memory of fun’ is promised at this little museum sentimentally devoted to old-time jukeboxes, music boxes, mechanical games, and antique clocks. On its ground floor, it also claims Asia’s biggest pinball-machine collection, nearly all of them still functional and in immaculate condition, that allows you to reacquaint yourself with themed classics such as Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Guns N’ Roses, and the Addams Family. There are some rare Japanese-made pinball machines from Sega, which later flourished as a video-game developer.
Distance: 8,279 km
Flight Time: 9 hours, 30 minutes
Paris Pinball Museum, Paris
The curious have to arrange a visit by appointment with the owner of this collection, Raphael Lankar, who has been accumulating machines since 1959. Try out the Gottlieb Baffle Ball from the days when one cent got you 10 balls. The museum also features slot machines, jukeboxes, and other arcade games.
Distance: 4,980 km
Flight Time: 7 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a day