Site report by Brett Barry.

Location: Castles& Coasters is located at I-17 & Dunlap Avenue in Phoenix,
Arizona, USA.

Phoenix, Arizona is one hot town. Sizzling hot. One day in Late August, we head North on Interstate 17 and exit near the Metrocenter shopping mall. Here, like a beacon in the 112 degree sun, is the popular Castles & Coasters Amusement Park.

The first thing you notice as you approach the park is the mystical Arabian theme of the structure. The second thing you notice is the mammoth "Desert Storm" roller coaster which dominates the park, with it's two 360 degree loops. There is also a sprawling miniature golf course on one side.

The park is filled with rides like the Splashdown log ride, with two vertical drops into the water below. There are bumper boats, go karts, a merry-go-round, kiddy rides, and more.

But step inside Castles & Coasters main entrance and an oasis of Pinball awaits, and this is no mirage! Smack in the center of this circular two level arcade (on the first floor) behold a treasure trove of TWENTY SIX late model pinball machines. The pins really take up the sweet spot of the arcade, and they are impossible to miss as soon as you walk in the doors.

There are so many pins here that it is hard to choose which one to play. The arcade is on the dark side inside, but with the air conditioning blowing mightily, this seems like a cool way to spend the day and have some fun. The games run on plastic token cards available near the cashier, and most of the games require two credits per game. A few of the older or less popular games ran on one credit.

Here is the list of pins - It's definitely the mother load!

(In clockwise order) Attack From Mars, Medieval Madness, Star Trek NG, Indiana Jones, Demolition Man, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Giligan's Island, The Addams Family, Champion Pub, Terminator 2, NBA Fastbreak, Junkyard, Cirque Voltaire, Revenge From Mars, Star Wars Episode 1, Tales Of The Arabian Nights, Who Dunnit, Bride Of Pinbot, Monster Bash, Black Rose, The Shadow, Getaway II, Funhouse, Elvira And The Party Monsters, Whitewater, and Theatre Of Magic.

Pinball in the Phoenix area is just plain hard to find. Most of the bars and bowling alleys here have sold their pins, and the few pinball machines one does find are few and far between. This is the only place in town (probably the entire state) where you will see this many pins in one spot. So what about the condition and playability?

The first pin I decided to play was Champion Pub. This is a rare game, and I had never seen one in person. The game played perfectly, and I had some fun jumping rope, and throwing punches at the prize fighter. The flippers were powerful, and the game was a blast. The only defect I noticed was a large broken plastic at the upper right of the playfield, which the ball would sometimes hit. It didn't affect the play, and
(amazingly) all the features of the game worked perfectly as far as I could tell. I even got to enter my initials as the jump-rope champion...
The Addams Family pin was not quite as perfect - The playfield was covered in dirt and soot, and the ball guides near the left slingshot were missing completely. Many of the bulbs were out, and the left
flipper would stick in the up position and then slowly drop down. But the game was more or less playable.

I then walked over to that holy grail of pins - Medieval Madness. The pin is at the coveted second position of this huge stable of pins, and designer Brian Eddy's AFM is right next to it. The MM played very nicely, with the catapults zipping the ball at high speed to my flippers and the trolls taunted me. As I said before, the arcade is very dark
inside which makes it difficult to actually see the ball at times. The playfield of this pin could also use a good scrubbing, but again all the game functions worked 100%. This must be heaven.

I talked to one of the techs at Castles & Coasters, and he told me that they have an "in-house" guy that just takes care of the pinball machines full time. He said the the pinball machines were quite popular with the public. I wasn't able to play all the other pins (as much as I would have liked to), but most appeared to be functional. I have visited
Castles & Coasters before, and in the past many of the games were either not working at all or had problems. I think many of the pins appear to have been shopped or repaired since my last visit, which is encouraging.

I moved over to Funhouse, one of my all time Pat Lawlor favorites. This one looked a little beat up, and poor Rudy was missing his entire bottom jaw. As you might also expect, his eyes and eyebrows were also on the fritz and didn't work at all.

Elvira And The Party Monsters was right Next door, and this game ran on only credit. I had never really played this one, and I just loved the humor and playfield action. I touched the start button without putting any credits in, and Elvira squealed "Don't touch me there." I did have a problem with the game when the ball got lodged behind the rubber near one of the drop down targets - The attendant came over and offered me a
free game. But then my phone rang. My wife was already in the car with the kids, and she said it was time to split. They had been waiting in the car for over 45 minutes!

Some the other goodies you'll find here are a Cirqus Voltaire in excellent condition and also a Monster Bash, which I didn't have time to play (I mean test).

Phoenix is one hot town, but Castles & Coasters is a must stop destination for the pinball connoisseur. The games aren't always in perfect shape, and the atmosphere is a little dark, but where else can you find 26 gleaming pinball's lined up in one air conditioned room?

As one of the signs inside the park says, "Fenix Or Bust."


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