A very small section of Banville, California's Museum of Pinball.

A very small section of Banville, California’s Museum of Pinball. (Photo: Museum of Pinball)

Still sore at the Fireball pinball machine that stole all your quarters in 1979? You just may get your chance for revenge. For a very limited time, the Museum of Pinball in Banning, California, is opening its gaming machines’ flippers to the public.

Banning’s Museum of Pinball, which is the world’s largest, features over 900 machines. This weekend, it will play host to the third annual Arcade Expo, which features tournaments, vendors, and chiptune music, along with unlimited gaming for ticket holders. 

The museum is like a Noah’s Ark of pinball, housing its rare treasures in a former aircraft parts facility. Some date back to 1855, before the spring launcher was patented. Others are relatively rare (like Joust, which combines pinball and air hockey) or weird (like Baby Pac-Man).


The harsh underbelly of the #pinball world - uh, we mean, behind the scenes! #CAX2015

Posted by Museum of Pinball on Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Museum is a nonprofit, and founder John Weeks doesn’t have the manpower to keep all the machines in fighting shape. As such, he only gets to open up his arcadeia a few times per year–but the pinball wizard lives for those chances. “A lot of people go ‘I don’t want you to touch my machine,’ but I want to share,” Weeks told the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “If I don’t pop them out now, they’ll never get played with.”

If you’d like to take him up on it, tickets for Arcade Expo 2016 are available here.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.