What can I say? The title of this event says it all. I live about two hours away, and thought about going for the whole weekend but ended up just going for the day on Sunday. Next year I'll be taking the full ride.
Before I left I put together a list of the highest-rated SS and EM machines culled from various online lists, including here. Of the newer machines, I was able to play every game on my list but one (Elvira's House of Horrors, brand new and very popular). The day started at 11 and ended at 8. I went with a friend, also a big pinball guy, but I figured I'd be happy if we made it until 4. We ended up peeling ourselves away from the place at about 7.
I ended up playing around 60 different machines in eight hours, with multiple games on maybe half a dozen of those. After a quick trip past a row of machines made by independent companies (Cosmic Carnival, Thunderbirds, Alice Cooper), I ended up spending almost two hours playing the old machines, many of which I learned about on Pinside (Bank-A-Ball, Cross Town, Capt. Card, Sweet Hearts*, Centigrade 37) and a lot of classics from the 1970s (Captain Fantastic, Space Mission, and an EM version of Mata Hari--I own an SS model) as well as the '80s and '90s (Theater of Magic, Twilight Zone, Funhouse, Strange Science*, Attack From Mars, Black Rose, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Bugs Bunny Birthday Bash*, The Shadow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Cirqus Voltaire). I particularly enjoyed Bugs Bunny and Strange Science, two surprises that weren't on my must-play list but were two of the most enjoyable machines I played.
Then came the new machines. They had almost everything that has come out in the last ten years. There was a small room dedicated exclusively to Jersey Jack releases (Dialed In, Wizard of Oz*, The Hobbit, and Pirates of the Carribean, missing only Willy Wonka) and I had to add a few new machines to my wish list after playing them (among them Ghostbusters, Lord of the Rings, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Black Knight: Sword of Rage). I pretty much avoided the machines that they already have at my local pinball outlet, AYCE Gogi (Batman 66, anyone?), but couldn't resist playing the Munsters and Walking Dead.
Other things worth noting: There was one small room dedicated exclusively to magic-related machines* (Hokus Pokus, Card Whiz, Mystic, Theater of Magic, and Pinball Magic--see photo), and there were two machines that I'd never seen that allow two players to play at once, head-to-head style--Joust and Challenger*, both of which I found out later had very limited production numbers (402 and 110, respectively). Props to the owners of the Museum of Pinball for even having those out and available to play. They also had benches covered with fabric featuring pinball machines* to rest your butt for a quick minute after standing up for so many hours.
My primary pinball experience growing up was sinking quarters into an Eight Ball* at the local 7-Eleven, so that was the last machine I had to play, partly because it was off-limits for a few hours while they had a tournament there. Next time I plan on playing it a lot.
Though my wrists were sore from playing for so long (I actually sprained both a few weeks ago so the timing of this event wasn't the best for me, but what are you gonna do? Pinball!), on the drive home I had already made up my mind to come for the full three days next year. I may also try to go to the INDISC Pinball Festival in January (http://www.indisc.com/), though they are having 15 tournaments that weekend so I don't know what the access to the machines will be like.
Everybody from the people who ran things to the people who came to play were really nice. They even had technicians onsite at all times working on machines that were down, which I thought was cool. The only thing I might do differently in the future is play more games on my favorites instead of trying to see how many games I can play in a day (I thought I would make a bigger dent, but I only played about five dozen machines and I think they have over 500.). Really looking forward to 2020!