Date: 16th - 20th October, 2019
Location: Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 N Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling, IL 60090, USA

Hello and welcome to our coverage of this 35th annual Pinball Expo, being held at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, northwest of Chicago.

The Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling
The Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling

This 35th show was a major anniversary and was being celebrated in many ways. You can expect to see reference to this landmark in various events held during the five days, which began on Wednesday.

The first order of the day for all attendees was to visit the registration desk to either pick up their pre-ordered pack or to fill in a form and pay there and then.

The registration desk
The registration desk

The full package costs $210 if you bought it on arrival. That seems a lot, but includes all the seminars, access to the game rooms, the Stern Pinball factory tour, the Bumper Blast meal on Wednesday night, the show guide, and a ticket for the raffle to win a Jurassic Park pinball machine.

Individual parts of the show can be purchased separately, but the full package is usually the best deal and it could be discounted further with advance purchase. The team at the registration desk handed out the registration packs and answered all kinds of questions.

Your Pinball Expo registration team
Your Pinball Expo registration team

While guests were signing-in, lots of work was going on behind the scenes to make sure the show would be ready when the Bumper Blast, the Vendor Hall, the Games Halls and the Seminars Hall open.

Games came through the Game Registration room before they were allowed to move on to the Games Halls or elsewhere else in the show.

This year there will be games in the Bumper Blast welcome banquet
This year there would be games in the Bumper Blast welcome banquet
The first Games Hall has lots of machines already set up
The first Games Hall already had lots of machines set up by Wednesday afternoon
More machines in Game Hall A
More machines in Game Hall A
More machines in Game Hall A
More machines in Game Hall A
All machines must come through here before going onto the Game Hall floor
All machines had to come through here before going onto the Game Hall floor
Machines are checked-in, just like the guests
Machines are checked-in, just like the guests
Machines are prepared in the room before heading to the halls
Machines are prepared in the room before heading to the halls

Although the Vendor Hall didn’t open to the public until Thursday evening, Rob Anthony had his Pinball Classics room set up on Tuesday to catch the early visitors.

Rob Anthony is in there somewhere
Rob Anthony is in there somewhere
More goodies in Rob's room
More goodies in Rob’s room

Also in the same row row of rooms, the Horror House Hauntcade was in a suitably spooky Halloween mood to make its first appearance at Pinball Expo.

This was to the horror
This was to the horror

The Hauntcade is a series of spookily-designed mini-rooms, each containing a pinball or other arcade game which those who dared to enter were invited to play by assorted characters.

The Night Mutilator was your host, and when the scare factor had reach a suitable level, he lured the next batch of victims inside.

The waiting area
The waiting area
A warm welcome awaited
A warm welcome awaited
Not all guests get to leave
Not all guests get to leave
Hell is a warm cocktail
Hell is a warm cocktail
You almost wouldn't recognise it as a regular hotel conference room
You almost wouldn’t recognise it as a regular hotel conference room
It's not.... is it?
It’s not…. is it?
Cheer up, it's only a game
Cheer up, it’s only a game

A day pass to the Hauntcade cost $5, but there was also a Pinball Tournament of Death which cost $20 to enter and which ran from 6pm until 10pm. Outside these times the games could still be played but the scores weren’t recorded and most of the actors were not around to scare you.

Most of the new game or product releases ended up in the Vendor Hall. It was closed when we first toured the hotel, but it was clear there would be an impressive selection of vendors when the doors open on Thursday evening.

The floor plan for the Vendor Hall
The floor plan for the Vendor Hall

At 7pm on Wednesday, however, it was time for the first Pinball Expo event – the Bumper Blast dinner.

The first visitors join the Bumper Blast dinner
The first visitors join the Bumper Blast dinner

Guests were provided with hot and cold food, soft drinks, music, and the chance to play some rare pinball machines.

Guests helping themselves to the Bumper Blast food
Guests helping themselves to the Bumper Blast food

The food this year consisted of soup, salad, pasta, pulled pork and some BBQ chicken.

Some of the food available
Some of the food available
Some of the food available
Some of the food available
Some of the food available
Some of the food available

While guests enjoyed the food, Ron Coon, Jr. provided some music.

Ron Coon Jr provided the music for the evening
Ron Coon Jr provided the music for the evening

At the back of the hall was a row of pinballs for guests to play. These were mostly Spanish titles which most players hadn’t seen before.

Some of the games available to play
Some of the games available to play
Pole Position by Sonic
Pole Position by Sonic
Bushido by Inder
Bushido by Inder
Clown by Inder
Clown by Inder
Odin by Peyper
Odin by Peyper
Mach 2.0 by Spinball
Mach 2.0 by Spinball
Star Fire by Playmatic
Star Fire by Playmatic
Nemesis by Peyper
Nemesis by Peyper
UFO-X by Playmatic
UFO-X by Playmatic
Black Fever by Playmatic
Black Fever by Playmatic
Canasta '86 by Inder
Canasta ’86 by Inder
Wolf Man by Peyper
Wolf Man by Peyper

After the Bumper Blast we ventured into the Botanic Garden Ballroom which has turned into a new feature for Pinball Expo 2019.

The Pinball Lounge in the Botanic Garden Ballroom
The Pinball Lounge in the Botanic Garden Ballroom

The Botanic Garden Ballroom was a combination of the Flip Out tournaments and the Stern Pinball/Marco Specialties Pin Lounge display of the latest Stern titles.

The layout for the Pin Lounge
The layout for the Pin Lounge

The back of the hall hosted the main, classic and kids tournaments, along with live streaming and commentary.

Machines for the modern Flip Out tournament
Machines for the modern Flip Out tournament
Machines for the Classic Tournament
Machines for the Classic Tournament
Setting up the streaming desk
Setting up the streaming desk

The front of the hall was Stern Pinball’s showcase of their latest titles, with a large number of Elvira’s House of Horrors and Jurassic Park machines.

A row of Elvira's House of Horrors machines
A row of Elvira’s House of Horrors machines
Jurassic Park and other recent Stern Pinball titles are here in abundance
Jurassic Park and other recent Stern Pinball titles were here in abundance
Another row of new Stern machines
Another row of new Stern machines

This room was also where Cassandra Peterson would be appearing to promote her new Elvira game. Elvira & the Party Monsters and Scared Stiff were there too alongside the latest release.

Setting up equipment for the Pin Lounge
Setting up equipment for the Pin Lounge

On our way back to the lobby, we took a look at the main vendor hall to see how that was coming along.

Inside the Vendor Hall on Wednesday evening
Inside the Vendor Hall on Wednesday evening
Machine to be set up in the Vendor Hall
Machine to be set up in the Vendor Hall
Tables and machines being set up
Tables and machines being set up

That concludes our coverage of Wednesday at Pinball Expo. Check out or second report covering Thursday’s fun, which began with the Stern Pinball factory tour, with the buses departing from the hotel at 9am.

Then, when everyone had returned, an extended seminar schedule began, and we have recorded them all for you on our Pinball News YouTube Channel.

Check out our reports covering all five days of Pinball Expo 2019 for all the latest news, plus even more video coverage of this special 35th anniversary show.

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One Comment

  1. Night Mutilator

    27th October, 2019 at 7:57pm

    Such an amazing time! Was probably the hardest trip we’ve ever attempted but well worth it for memories alone!! Thanks for stopping by our little Hauntcade!

    Reply

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