If anyone lives in Southern California or Palm Spring, Pinball Madness starts this Friday-Sunday in Banning, Ca. Link has the details. I’ve gone the last 2 years and it’s great. They also have events in March.
Wilbers, the Museum of Pinball in Banning California is no more. It was the site of over 600 machines and also hosted the INDISC tourney yearly, but sadly due to zoning issues it was never able to be open more than 4 weekends a year. Oops. And then COVID hit which didn't do the site any favors. The owner was planning on moving all the machines to a new site in Palm Springs, but apparently decided against it because that building wasn't as ready to go as hoped for. The lease is up on Banning site though, and it s now going to be turned into a marijuana farm.
As for the machines, no word yet. Really sad, as the collection was quite amazing with some really rare offerings in there. Also, volunteers have put in countless hours getting all those machines up and running throughout the years. The Pinball Hall of Fame has it's new location in Las Vegas that can house something like 700 machines, but they've literally got a warehouse with overflow already and a huge bill to cover for their move, so doubtful it goes there. Quite a bummer really.
that is a huge number of pinball machines to find space for - most I've seen is about 60 at one of the biggest UK shows (that I've only been to once since 2020 & 2021 cancelled because of COVID). Any of those California billionaires a fan of pinball?
I should mention, it's two buildings and the main one is where the pinball is. The other building? A whole mess of arcade games.
It really was a staggering experience walking into a giant space with that many pinball machines turned on and making noise. I went 3 different times, spent around 10-11 hours in it each time, played over 80 individual tables per visit. And that was me not even trying to have a proper game, but more of an adding yet another notch to my pinball belt. With everything on free play (was $40 for entry) you pretty much looked for a machine without someone playing on it and made that your choice. Sometimes I'd wait in line, but usually I'd just pick a machine right by whatever I really wanted to play and as soon as the person finished, I'd just walk away from what I was playing and hop on it.
I'm not terribly surprised at the demise of the place though. When it was purchased, it was with the intent on being open every weekend. How they overlooked the zoning stipulation that said it couldn't be open to the public but for a few times each year is beyond me. More than that, how Banning (which is in the middle of nowhere, an exit off the freeway on your way to Palm Springs) didn't bother to change the zoning so as to open up a year round tourist location is bonkers. The owner had all these machines just stacked in a storage warehouse and figured it was better to store them in public view than let them rot in the dark. Makes me wonder if he'll still try and hold on to the collection or put it all to auction. Considering the prices pinball machines are going for these days, the time is certainly right to sell. But 700 machines? Sheesh.
I am sad I did not know about this place and never got to visit. Probably even drove past it. (sigh).
Pinball is such a rough business to keep going. I can’t even count the number of places that used to have pinball but now don’t. Even some local theme parks and miniature golf courses no longer have any. And those used to be excellent places. It makes me so sad.
Yeah so true. I wanted to make my own arcade public place inside a commercial centre.
The guy I knew for repairing/selling pinball tables and other stuff (like juke boxes) strongly advertised me to NOT do it.
He told me, when he has visitors, nobody wants to shell 1 coin to play a game. NOT EVEN 1 COIN !