Date: July 2020
Locations:114 S.W. Arch Street, Atlanta, IL, USA, 107 S. Hamilton Street, McLean, IL, USA & 260 Center Street, McLean, IL, USA

In this edition of PinSpotting we visit three unique gaming destinations in the heartland of America, all founded by a man who, since he was a youth, has been obsessed with coin-op games.

Route 66 Arcade Museum
114 S.W. Arch Street, Atlanta, IL 61723, USA
(217) 648-5077

It has been celebrated in song, story, poem, and yes, even a Route 66 TV show (1960-1964); historic U.S. Route 66 was established in 1926 and ran east-west across the central United States.

The stars of the Route 66 TV Series on the cover of TV Guide
The stars of the Route 66 TV Series on the cover of TV Guide

According to the popular song Route 66 by John Mayer “…it winds from Chicago to LA, more than two thousand miles all the way”. 2448 miles or 3,940 kilometres to be precise.

Tourist attractions designed to get a motorist to take a break from their journey (and spend some cash) along ‘the mother road’ or the ‘main street of America’ are scattered here and there among the small towns that are found along Route 66.

One of these attractions is the Route 66 Arcade Museum located in the prototypical small town of Atlanta, IL.

The town of Atlanta, Illinois on Route 66
The town of Atlanta, Illinois on Route 66
The Route 66 Arcade Museum sign
The Route 66 Arcade Museum sign

At the Route 66 Arcade Museum it is possible to misspend your youth all over again; one quarter at a time! The Museum is chock full of vintage pinball and video games from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Batting Practice (Irving Kaye, 1965)
Block-A-Shot (Brunswick, 1976)
Cover Girl (Kenney, 1947)
Cue Ball Wizard (Gottlieb, 1992)
Dew-Wa-Ditty (Williams, 1948)
The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992)
Jacks to Open (Gottlieb, 1984)
Raven (Gottlieb, 1986)
Space Mission (Williams, 1976)
Star Lite (Exhibit, 1935)

The Route 66 Arcade Museum building
The Route 66 Arcade Museum building

The Route 66 Arcade Museum is only open during the tourist season from April through September. The museum is opened and closed by a third party but is usually open from 9am to 4pm in season. Hours are currently impacted by Illinois state COVID-19 regulations for entertainment businesses so please check before your visit.

Local Atlanta, IL businesses have gotten into the spirit of gaming, and places such as The Palms Grill Cafe just down the street from the Route 66 Arcade Museum have antique pinball games on hand.

The Hi-Diver at The Palms Grill Cafe
The Hi-Diver at The Palms Grill Cafe

Arcadia: America’s Playable Arcade Museum
107 S. Hamilton Street, McLean, IL 61754, USA
(309) 287-1725

Pinball Paradise
260 Center Street, McLean, IL

These two arcades are sister locations and are both located on the McLean, Illinois town square.

Arcadia: America’s Playable Arcade Museum is John (Vectorman) Yates’ flagship location located near Atlanta in the scenic and bucolic town of McLean, IL. Yates’ home town is Atlanta, IL, but he has since adopted McLean, IL which he calls “A safe and friendly place much like Andy Griffith’s fictional TV town of Mayberry”.

Advertising signs in McLean, Illinois
Advertising signs in McLean, Illinois

We found McLean to be a welcoming town indeed. It’s a nice place to go for a summer evening stroll. Terri and I were doing just that and a resident stopped his truck and rolled down the window. “Where ya’ll from?”, he said. We told him and his reply was “Welcome to McLean – enjoy your stay!”, and drove off. Something like that certainly wouldn’t happen even in Chicago’s suburbs.

The Town Square bell
The Town Square bell

Arcadia was first opened to the public in the fall of 2009 after nearly half-a-year of redecorating and modernization, including a full update to the climate control that would allow gamers to enjoy the classic video games no matter what the weather might be outside.

The weather outside Arcadia was good today
The weather outside Arcadia was good today

This retro arcade was conceived, designed, decorated, and stocked with the goal of being a world-class destination for the pinball and classic video gaming community. Gamers have come to visit Arcadia from every state in the USA and many countries of the world.

Some of the pinballs at Arcadia
Some of the pinballs at Arcadia

The Addams Family (Bally, 1992)
Baseball (Gottlieb, 1970)
Cue Ball Wizard (Gottlieb, 1992)
Doctor Who (Bally, 1992)
The Getaway: High Speed II (Williams, 1992)
Gilligan’s Island (Bally, 1991)
Hot Shot Basketball (Midway, 1994)
Judge Dredd (Bally, 1993)
Joust (Williams, 1983)
Police Force (Williams, 1989)
Revenge from Mars (Bally, 1999)
Silverball Mania (Bally, 1980)
Slug Fest (Williams, 1991)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (Williams, 1993)
Super Mario Bros. (Gottlieb, 1992)
Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World (Gottlieb, 1992)
Target Alpha (Gottlieb, 1976)
Twilight Zone (Bally, 1993)
Waterworld (Gottlieb, 1995)

Slug Fest by Williams
Slug Fest by Williams

Arcadia has a collection of video game art on the walls including an impressive collection of lighted video game cabinet glasses which gives a distinct retro feel to the interior.

The wall of video game marquees
The wall of video game marquees

Yates started collecting coin-op games in 1985, buying his first game console for $99 and now brings titles in regularly from his stock of over 1500 games. Yates says that he has rotated many different games through Arcadia since opening in 2009.

Some of Arcadia's video games
Some of Arcadia’s video games
More upright videos
More upright videos
Some of the driving games
Some of the driving games

There is a new free-to-use party room inside Arcadia which is available for up to 28 guests. Contact John at the phone number above for information and booking.

Arcadia has a comfortable lounge area for those wishing a break from the gaming action. The lounge is located near the front entrance and has a retro-styled Wurlitzer jukebox with ’60s & ’70s songs.

Arcadia's lounge area
Arcadia’s lounge area

Neither arcade offers food or beverage service at this time but Yates hopes to offer sandwiches and soft drinks for his visitors in the not-too-distant future.

Yates opened a sister arcade, Pinball Paradise, in 2016 which is located in the former McLean State Bank building adjacent to Arcadia.

Pinball Paradise on Center Street
Pinball Paradise on Center Street

Pinball Paradise is focused on pinball with a half-dozen or so video and other games on hand.

Some of the pinballs at Pinball Paradise
Some of the pinballs at Pinball Paradise
More pinballs
More pinballs

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (Data East, 1993)
The Bally Game Show (Bally, 1990)
Baseball (Gottlieb, 1970)
Black Knight 2000 (Williams, 1989)
Capt. Fantastic (Bally, 1975)
Demolition Man (Williams, 1994)
Dr. Dude (Bally, 1990)
The Machine: Bride of Pin-Bot (Williams, 1991)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (Sega, 1995)
Mystery Castle (Alvin G, 1993)
No Fear: Dangerous Sports (Williams, 1995)
Pool Sharks (Bally, 1990)
Red & Ted’s Road Show (Williams, 1994)
Revenge from Mars (Bally, 1999)
The Shadow (Bally, 1994)
Sky-Line (Gottlieb, 1965)
Soccer (Williams, 1964)
South Park (Sega, 1999)
Super Mario Bros. (Gottlieb, 1992)
Space Mission (Williams, 1976)
Star Race (Gottlieb, 1980)
Super Score (Gottlieb, 1967)
Theatre of Magic (Bally, 1995)
Top Card (Gottlieb, 1974)
Voltan Escapes Cosmic Doom (Bally, 1978)
Video Pinball (Atari, 1978)
Whirlwind (Williams, 1990)
Whitewater (Williams, 1993)
X’s and O’s (Bally, 1984)

The oldest game in the collection, a Williams Soccer
The oldest game in the collection, a Williams Soccer

Pinball Paradise also boasts a “rare Italian-made foosball table” that should be of interest to table soccer players.

I found that all of Arcadia’s and Pinball Paradise’s games are in good to excellent condition and both locations have change machines accepting up to $20 bills. At least half of the games are 25 cents per credit with the remainder being 50 cents per credit. Some of the games offer discounts for purchase of 2-3 or more games at a time.

Another rare title, Bally's X's & O's
Another rare title, Bally’s X’s & O’s

Yates opened a gaming-themed Airbnb immediately next door to Arcadia in 2012. The Hotel Arcadia has several full-sized multicades as well as pinball with a certain number of credits free-of-charge for the guests. The apartment can accommodate up to six people with a bed, sleeper sofa and a ‘kids loft’ accessed by a spiral staircase for either the youngsters or the
very young at heart. More details are available in their Airbnb listing.

The traveling gamer is also offered guest accommodations at Hotel Arcadia Suites (3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 1.5 baths, 2 multicades and a Whitewater pinball) and Vectorman’s Luxury Arcade Palace (3 bedrooms, 5 beds, 3.5 baths, with two dozen games including two pinballs). Check their website for more details and booking information.

Arcadia’s website shows some of the games in Yates’ collection are available for sale and there is a list that he is taking offers for. Please check with them if you need more information on anything that appears on the ‘For Sale’ or ‘Taking Offers’ lists.

Overall we felt that this is a very fun and unique destination that anyone who plays coin-op games will enjoy. Why not plan to spend a day or two to immerse yourself in this ultimate world of gaming?

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