I know I raved last month about Lucky Ju Ju pinball on my blog, but this place is even better. Playland-not-at-the-beach is a cross between a museum and a labor of love.
The original "Playland" was an amusement park near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, near where pup_ajax lives (West side represent! N-Judah, baby!) They tore down the original Boardwalk in the early 1970s. Fan Richard Tuck bought a bunch of the attractions, and opened up a museum in an old abandonded grocery store just north of Berkeley.
The problem with this is that the place still *looks* like an office building. It's a warren of rooms, none larger than twenty feet by twenty feet. So you turn corners and see fantastic things everywhere you look: pinball machines, skill games, sculptures, and artwork. However, you also see a lot of the "behind the scenes stuff"; I had to walk through a dirty kitchen to get to the arcade. A bunch of flimsy folding chairs were set up in a corner facing a wall - in preparation for a free magic show. It's tacky, but I can't complain... I mean... free magic show!
They had the pinball machine I own! I have an old electro-mechanical at my parent's house in Denver. The collection of pinball seemed to be based around the circus - they had had any machine with that theme. But they also had some of my favorites: White Water, Funhouse, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Scared Stiff, and many many others... more than at Lucky Ju Ju. And all were on freeplay, and though the $15 Playland tickets is pricier than the $10 for Lucky Ju Ju, there were fewer people so I got to play a lot more pinball. The machines were maintained pretty good, but not as good as at Lucky Ju Ju... I had some bad flippers and tilted playing fields.
I highly recommend visiting Playland-not-at-the-beach. It got me thinking a lot about why we try to recreate the past, and if it's possible to go back in time and revisit our childhoods. Instead of trying to make money, these people have created a strange all-volunteer junkyard. When I visited, there were volunteers lounging all over the place... I think if you work for an hour you get in free. And it shows - the place had a weird laid-back college dorm room feel. But there's a lot of love here... and I hope they make enough money to keep it running.
Cut for lots of photos
I created a flickr photoset at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mudcub/sets/72157622422908918/
See more photos (not by me) at: http://micechat.com/forums/other-theme-parks-destinations/107776-playland-not-beach.html