For starters I hit up the Bay Area section of PinballMap.com 456 machines at 217 locations? Yes please! The closest pinball I could find to where we were staying was at the Heart and Dagger Saloon. They had a Medieval Madness, Theatre of Magic and Simpsons Pinball Party. I was able to get replays on all three. They played decently, except for a few weak flippers and not one of the games was level (all tilted to the left, which was frustrating). Also, there was a CFF high score on Medieval. Out-of-state intimidation!
The next day our hosts Kettner and Lacy drove us down to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where I was told there would be plenty of pinball. Our first stop was into Neptune's Kingdom which had an arcade on the ground floor.
I searched around, but alas, all I could find was video arcade games and digital photo booths. Just as we were getting ready to leave, Lacy found some pinball up on the second floor! It was a pretty impressive line-up:
From left to right that's Lord of the Rings, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Terminator 3, Pirates of the Carribean, Tron Legacy, AC-DC (brand new but somehow missing the rubber on the right flipper!?!) and then after those stupid shooting games there was also a Stern Spider-man and Batman.
The upper floor is mostly pool tables, so this was a nice quiet place to play. Some foolish pinballer had also loaded up four player games on Spiderman and Batman, so Kettner and I got to play a lot, for free. This Tron also had the crazy neon lights along the ramp shot (LE?) which I had never seen before. The AC-DC didn't have the dropped playfield, and it was too heartbreaking playing it without the flipper rubber. Next time!
Next we went off and rode the Giant Dipper. I've found that as I get older, I have less of a stomach for roller coasters, so afterwards I just took it easy... and played some more pinball!
A little farther down the boardwalk was the Casino Arcade.
This was a huge, crazy arcade, with tons of kids running around. They mostly had video games (including a "classic corner" with games from the '80s) but tucked away in one corner there was a nice lineup of pins:
From left to right that's Ripley's Believe It or Not, Stern's Indiana Jones, Simpson's Pinball Party, Wheel of Fortune, Attack From Mars and Addams Family (switched off). Indy was super broken and after watching three people dump their money in and get robbed, I switched it off (is that the right thing to do in this scenario?) Claire and I both got replays on Attack From Mars and we played some Wheel of Fortune, which was crazy. I got two replays on Simpsons thanks to my warm-up the day before. I really wanted to play Ripley's but it was so crazy in the arcade, I never got a chance. There were all these kids running around and it was so loud, we decided to head back to Neptune's Kingdom. I'm glad I did!
I ended up having my best game ever on Spider-man with 109 million, which scored me a number two spot on the high score board! I gotta say, this is the ideal scenario when playing pinball in the wild. You scope out the scene, see which machines are in good shape. Then get warmed up and hopefully score a couple of replays (it's so much more of a thrill to get a "KNOCK" in a crowd, instead of at home by yourself) and then before you take off, you leave your initials in one of the machines.
NEXT UP: The Pacific Pinball Museum! No trip to the Bay Area would be complete without a visit to this fine establishment. And wait until you hear who I ran into whilst there!