Location: Center in the Square, 1 Market Square, SE Roanoke, VA 24016, USA
Report by Dan Marquardt
The city of Roanoke, Virginia values the important things in life: steam engines and pinball machines.
With the Virginia Museum of Transportation returning the Norfolk & Western 611 steam engine to excursion service, and the opening of the Roanoke Pinball Museum in 2015, Roanoke had to be the latest vacation destination to check out both attractions.
The two museums are located a few blocks from each other in downtown Roanoke. This article is about the pinball museum only, but if you have any interest in seeing historic transportation displays - especially trains - the Virginia Museum of Transportation is a must see.
The Roanoke Pinball Museum is located on the second floor of the Center in the Square building that actually is located in the center of the downtown area.
Each level of the building has a different learning exhibit or museum for the public to visit. The second floor is the home of the Roanoke Pinball Museum that opened on June 19th.
The museum is open daily and the admission fee is $10.00 for unlimited play for the whole day. Kids eight and under get free admission. The museum hours can be found on their website. They also give frequent updates on their Facebook page.
The museum is loaded with 50 pinball machines. Most of the pins are EMs from the '50s, '60s and '70s, with a few '80s and '90s pins mixed in.
The games all looked nice, which was surprising considering how long ago many of them were made.
Most of the pins also worked fine, but there were more than a few shut off for repairs. I assume this is part of opening a new museum and getting up-to-speed with the constant maintenance needed.
Museum staffer, Chris Rader, told me he has repair volunteers to keep the pins operating. He also told me the museum has exceeded all expectations. The original plan was for 25 pins and they opened with 50.They have plans for more modern games in the future.
The attendance has also been much higher than they anticipated. The museum was certainly packed with people on the July 3rd Friday I was there.
It was very nice to see the large number of kids playing their pins. I doubt most of them had ever even seen a pinball machine before. I was happy to see the museum bringing pinball machines to a new generation.
All the kids seemed to be into playing the pins, so hopefully they will want to play one again when they see one in the future.
I really enjoyed my visit to the museum and hope to visit again to play all their classic pins.
© Pinball News 2015