Location: 930 Manitou Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO, 80829, USA.
We first reviewed Arcade Amusements in Manitou Springs, Colorado, back in 2008, and it's a pleasure to report that not only are they still going strong, they appear to have expanded.
Manitou Springs is a tourist town around 45 minutes' drive south of Denver on the I-25 and just west Colorado Springs. Its main claims to fame are as home to the Garden of the Gods nature park, as the base for the Pike's Peak mountain cog railway.
Downtown Manitou Springs is packed with shops, cafes, art galleries and bars, which line the main street. Car parking can be both tricky and costly, but if you park on the street before you get to the steam engine in the picture above, the parking is free and there is a free shuttle bus to take you the short distance into town (although it's probably only a five-minute walk anyway).
But we're here to play games in one of the oldest arcades in the country. However actually finding it is harder than you might think. The address of 930 Manitou Avenue only gets you so close.
Nestling between Don's Royal Tavern and La Chemere pottery store is an alley way which leads behind both these establishments to our destination.
Then the question is, 'where to start?' since Arcade Amusements is spread out across a number of individual buildings, all of which are packed to the roof with various types of amusement machines.
We'll start with the Penny Arcade, and we come to our first pinballs.
These are a mix of electromechanical, solid-state and a couple of dot matrix games.
These four were all priced at just $0.25 per game which made them (Capt.) fantastic value for money. They all played well too. In fact the only problem was how the space in front of them formed a narrow corridor which served as one of the main entrances/exits to the building, meaning you were always being asked to let people pass during your game.
While these four were the only pinballs in this aisle, the aisle behind was packed with more pins.
Facing these was a mix of more EMs and a couple of dot matrix titles.
It's tempting to comment on how the 50-year-old Hot Line was still working fine while the much newer Street Fighter 2 was switched off, but in this case the Gottlieb was out of action for an altogether different reason.
But we're not finished with pinballs in the Penny Arcade, because further down the line we come to another six.
Finding twenty-one pinballs, a dozen of which were electromechanical was, to put it mildly, something of a surprise. To find them nearly all working perfectly and being regularly played was a genuine shock.
We spoke with one gentleman who serviced the games and had worked at Arcade Amusements for several decades. He told us how nearly all these games were bought new-in-box for the arcade when they first came out and had never left. They had simply been operated there ever since.
This is real pinball history. And not just pinball, for the Penny Arcade was packed with shooters, hockey games, cranes, mutoscopes, trade stimulators and driving games from well-known pinball names such as Williams, Chicago Coin and Exhibit Supply.
Something definitely lacking from the Penny Arcade is the classic video game. That's because they have been, like a naughty dog, banished into the yard outside.
Yes, that right, it was raining. But although these videos are outside, there is a roof covering them so that only a strong wind could blow any rain onto them. Don't forget, the operators of these games have been doing this for a while.
OK, time for more pinball, and from the sign in the window this place looks like it has potential.
History is all well and good, but if pinball is to survive into the future it needs to sell new games too. Thankfully, Arcade Amusements is still buying new pinballs.
With modern games comes modern pricing, so NASCAR is set to $0.50 a game while Mustang is $1.00 a game. Both offer bonus games if you're willing to drop $2 through the coin slot
Just around the corner we found a CSI which was obvious deemed to fit in between NASCAR and Mustang as it was priced at $0.75 per game. Thankfully, all the games took real money and not tokens.
Moving further through the room we come to another two pinballs.
We thought we were on our way out, but then we noticed one more pinball hiding in the corner.
And then, just as we turned around from the X-Men, one additional machine loomed up before us. You really do have to keep your wits about you in this building.
That's surely all of them, right? Well, no. Heaven knows how they cram them all in, but just as we were leaving, two more pinballs seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The sign had been correct. There were nine pinballs here to add to the twenty-one in the Penny Arcade. Those two building contained all the pinballs at Arcade Amusements, but there were plenty more buildings and amusements to explore.
One building was not open to the public but seems to be used as a kind of window exhibit of amusement items through the years.
There's no doubt Arcade Amusements is a must-see if you are anywhere in the southern Colorado area. Although it contains a healthy slice of history - not just for pinballs but all kinds of coin-op games - it also offers the very latest titles and thus avoids the 'worthy' moniker.
Entry to all the buildings is free and Arcade Amusements are open seven days a week from 10am until 10pm during the summer season (or later if there is sufficient business), or 6pm during the winter.
More details are on their website at: manitouspringspennyarcade.com.
© Pinball News 2015