Asheville Pinball Museum Review: Unlimited Gameplay for a Bargain

Nestled in western North Carolina, the Asheville Pinball Museum offers a nostalgic escape and boasts an impressive array of pinball machines and classic arcade games.

With its retro charm and diverse collection, it’s an ideal indoor destination, ensuring a fun-filled experience when outdoor plans are hindered by the elements. Here’s the lowdown on what makes it special and some tips for your visit.

What is the Asheville Pinball Museum?

The Asheville Pinball Museum is a popular attraction in North Carolina, offering a unique blend of pinball machines and classic arcade games.

For a reasonable $15 admission fee, visitors can enjoy unlimited play and explore a diverse collection spanning different decades. The museum is known for its nostalgic ambiance, featuring a mix of sports memorabilia, comic books, and nods to decades of the past.

Asheville Pinball Museum

How the Asheville Pinball Museum works

The Pinball Museum accommodates up to 65 players simultaneously, with a total of 70 games up for grabs—comprising 35 pinball machines and 35 classic video games.

Admission comes at a reasonable $15 per person, granting you unlimited playtime. If you’re more of a spectator and just want to soak in the sights without playing, entry is free.

It’s a first-come, first-served setup, as reservations aren’t accepted. However, if you show up and there’s no room, inquire about the waiting list. Leave your name and phone number, and they’ll give you a heads-up when space opens up.

Keep in mind that rainy days tend to be bustling, so plan accordingly. Unfortunately, your furry friends, specifically dogs, aren’t permitted.

The museum operates on a unique schedule, so it’s crucial to plan your visit accordingly. Check out the website for hours and align your travel plans accordingly.

Asheville Pinball Museum

My experience at the Asheville Pinball Museum

My visit to the museum was more of an observer’s role, given our tight schedule while traveling from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to Atlanta. Nevertheless, it proved to be a worthwhile stop.

Upon being welcomed by the staff at the entrance, I learned that I could freely explore the museum without any charge.

Wandering through the museum, I swiftly gained a deep appreciation for the eclectic collection of pinball machines.

This diverse array traversed numerous decades, featuring everything from timeless classics to playful nods to iconic figures like The Beatles and The Wizard of Oz. The lineup also included modern favorites like The Simpsons and Lord of the Rings, adding a contemporary flair to the nostalgic journey.

The collection is genuinely fascinating. Positioned above some of the pinball machines are small cards providing information about their creation, almost serving as interpretive panels akin to what you’d find in a traditional museum.

These cards offer details such as the designer’s name, the artist behind the artwork, and even insights into the game, including production quantities. It adds an extra layer of depth to the overall experience, making it more than just a stroll down pinball memory lane.

Delving into the Pinball Museum, you’ll uncover some intriguing details about the history of pinball machines. It’s quite captivating, given that, at one point, these machines were considered illegal due to their perceived connection to gambling. This perception changed with the introduction of the iconic flippers, since they added an element of skill to the game.

While the museum doesn’t necessarily offer an exhaustive storytelling of the pinball machine’s origin, it provides a glimpse into this interesting evolution. But ultimately, the main attraction is the opportunity to marvel at the diverse creations and, of course, actively partake in the experience.

Asheville Pinball Museum

A couple of the machines, like the Wizard of Oz Machine and the Godzilla Pinball Machine, do come with a price tag, requiring a couple of quarters on top of the entrance fee.

By the way if you like Oz, check out the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas.

Wizard of Oz Machine

What particularly impressed me about this museum was a personal experience I had as a spectator.

While casually exploring the museum, I couldn’t resist the captivating sights and sounds and suddenly felt the urge to try my hand at one of these paid machines. So, I approached the staff and inquired about the possibility of inserting some quarters for a few rounds.

Typically, such requests might be met with a “no” due to their visitation policy. However, the attendant, recognizing the slow weekday and perhaps the unique circumstances, made an exception and allowed me to play.

While it was a minuscule request, it struck me as a genuinely impressive moment because it’s not often you encounter such flexibility and common sense in customer service.

Many places strictly adhere to rules without considering a rule’s intent or real-time context.

In this instance, the attendant recognized the slow pace and saw that my request wouldn’t disrupt anything. This reasonable and accommodating approach really added to the positive vibe of the museum and left me eager to return.

After exploring the realm of pinball machines, I ventured deeper into the museum, discovering a treasure trove of classic arcade games. For someone like me, who grew up in the nineties, it felt like stepping into a nostalgic paradise.

All the favorites from back in the day were there, invoking a sense of deja vu. Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, and even some nearly forgotten gems like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game stood out among the array of choices.

Asheville Pinball Museum arcade games

The temptation to play was strong, and while I briefly considered paying the entry fee to play, my impending quick departure made me content with admiring these classics from a distance. Although in retrospect I feel like I should have just coughed up $15.

Asheville Pinball Museum arcade games

Even if you don’t play, there’s a unique joy in strolling down memory lane, reminiscing about games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. It’s a great experience, not just for active players but also for those who want to soak in the nostalgia of these iconic games.

Asheville Pinball Museum

The museum also boasts a nice vibe, blending sports memorabilia, arcade games, and comic books. The walls adorned with nods to nostalgic nineties films and media, from MTV to Michael Jackson and the Breakfast Club to E.T., add an extra layer of retro charm. Plus, they serve beer.

Asheville Pinball Museum

As I explored further, I stumbled upon a pleasant surprise—a couple of consoles set up, including Sega, PlayStation, and an old Nintendo, allowing museum-goers to indulge in games like Donkey Kong, Crash Bandicoot, and Sonic.

Regrettably, it was time for me to bid farewell and journey through South Carolina back to Atlanta. However, the anticipation of returning to this captivating place lingered.

The concept of a single admission fee granting unlimited playtime is a fantastic aspect that enhances the overall experience.

Visiting on a weekday in early December proved to be ideal, with the benefit of a quieter atmosphere, allowing me to savor the museum for an extended period. I’m genuinely looking forward to my next visit.

Final word

I found the museum to be absolutely fantastic.

The fact that you can enjoy unlimited playtime for just $15 is amazing.

They offer a diverse range of pinball machines and classic arcade games to keep you entertained, and the nostalgic atmosphere adds to the overall charm.

What really stood out for me was the excellent customer service, with the workers being both reasonable and personable, making my experience even more enjoyable. If you’re ever in the Asheville, North Carolina area, I highly recommend checking out this place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *