It isn’t much to look at from the outside. A large boxy building in a 1970s strip mall, next to a pizza place, off of Route 38 near Pelham, New Hampshire. The only thing that marks it as unusual is the sign up top reading “The Pinball Wizard Arcade.”
However, hidden behind that bland facade is the Northeast’s single greatest pinball bonanza. With rows and rows of classic pinball, every great pinball machine can be found within Pinball Wizard. One of the things that makes the Wizard unusual is that the condition of the machines is impeccable, each one restored to near perfect condition.
Any owner of a serious pinball operation has to be part mechanic, part antiques collector, part vintage restorer, and part museum curator. The owner of Pinball Wizard, Sarah St. John, fits the bill and has had a lifelong love of pinball. Despite the machines sometimes being worth five figures, they aren’t kept behind glass, and every single one is meant to be played. “It’s what they’re made for” says owner Sarah St. John.
The arcade isn’t just pinball machines, though they have 92 of them, but also classic arcade games, all equally well-maintained. One of the things that makes Pinball Wizard capable of the near museum quality of their games is the back maintenance room. Behind the the 9,800 square feet of public gaming arcade is a 3,000 square foot pinball and arcade game restoration area where games are disassembled, fixed, and restored to their classic condition. It is a process that St. John takes with the seriousness and focus of a Renaissance art restorer.
Update June, 2017: Pinball Wizard is now closed and has been replaced by a trampoline park.