Category Archives: Amusements & Arcades

Among The Little People Now

National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

Between the holdover time in Boston, the duration of the flight, and the five-hour time difference, we were thoroughly exhausted by the time we reached Clontarf Castle. Nevertheless, figuring our best bet for acclimating to local time was to forge on until bedtime, we checked in, threw down our bags, and after a short rest were off for Dublin Town.

Traveling with a 9-year-old (who’d held up amazingly well thus far) meant that our first stop should be of correlative interest. And so it was that we found ourselves at the door of the National Leprechaun Museum. Despite the hokey implications of its name, the Museum could be as easily marketed as a crash course in Irish mythology – Aos Sí 101 – which manifests throughout Irish culture to this day.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

As our seanchai led us through a series of exhibits depicting leprechauns of lore as well as their modern convention (rooted in the 1959 Disney film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People), elaborating upon the púca and bean sídhe, Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fenian Cycle, I recalled, of all things, one Friday night in high school, when a friend and I drove a half-hour to see Schindler’s List. However, we faltered at the ticket window. Were we, a pair of strapping lads perched at the precipice of the weekend, really up to facing three-hours of celluloid-induced depression?

Indeed, common sense prevailed, and we blew off the Oscar-winning Holocaust epic in favor of seeing Leprechaun 2 (which happens to contain one of the most hilariously inconsistent nude body-doubles ever committed to film, but that’s another story). I related this tale to Warwick Davis (who plays the namesake leprechaun) a decade later at a horror-con in Baltimore. His reaction belied an unparalleled sense of diplomacy.

William P. Tandy regaling Warwick Davis with his cinematic preferences
William P. Tandy regaling Warwick Davis with his cinematic preferences

But back to the matter at hand. A noteworthy gift shop awaits visitors at the end of this rainbow. However, a word of note: although the National Leprechaun Museum is indoors, there seemed to be no source of heating, so should you go there in January, dress accordingly.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin
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Silverball Arcade Museum

Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum

As we indicated in a previous post about Timeline Arcade, we here at Next Exit Travel are big fans of arcades. It isn’t about nostalgia, our inner 12-year-olds just never died. We were in New Jersey for a family event and as we got in the car, WPT mentioned we were only a short drive away from Asbury Park – home to the Silver Ball Arcade Museum. Suddenly, we were detouring to the Jersey Shore.

Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum

The pinball machines were amazing – some over 60 years old and in perfect working condition. The variety of machines was impressive – from mechanical relics to Elvira offering sexy come ons to Charlie’s Angels. Galaga was my game back when I had to seek it out at mini-marts and game rooms and I probably played one of my best games in a decade on their machine. They also have Pong, Tetris, and an air basketball game that was a lot of fun. Most games have information about the manufacture and history of the machine, so it is a museum. A museum of fun where you can touch every exhibit.

Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum

The admission is time-based, so you can try a ton of games without worrying about running out of quarters. We only had an hour before we needed to hit the road, but it was enough to get a taste and want to go back.

2nd place! Silver Ball Arcade Museum
2nd place! Silver Ball Arcade Museum

Silver Ball Arcade Museum
1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Phone: 732-774-4994
Website: http://silverballmuseum.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilverballMuseumArcade
Admission: 1/2 Hour $7.50, 1 hour $10, all day $20
Off-Season Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11 AM – 9 PM, Friday: 11 AM – 1 AM, Saturday: 10 AM – 1 AM, Sunday: 10 AM – 10 PM

Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Skeeball, Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Skeeball, Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Pong, Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Pong, Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum
Silver Ball Arcade Museum

Daytrips from Baltimore: Of Chips and Childhood

Utz Factory Outlet, Hanover, PA
Utz Factory Outlet, Hanover, PA

This past winter the weather settled into a pattern of snowing on Sunday nights and the city shutting down on Monday. The first snow day or two were great, but then I started having to go into work instead of hunkering down and enjoying Mother Nature’s get out of work free card. On one such Sunday, we decided to get out of Baltimore for a few hours before the storm hit. The sky was leaden as we headed north. We were somewhere around Westminster, near the state line, when our inner 12-year-olds began to take hold.

Utz Factory Outlet, Hanover, PA
Utz Factory Outlet, Hanover, PA

An hour north of the city, in Hanover, PA, sits the Utz Factory. We decided that if was going to snow, that we might as well stock up on snacks. Wouldn’t want to resort to cannibalism, right? It was a spontaneous trip, so we didn’t plan around the factory tours, but we did walk into the Utz Factory Outlet and for people with a fried potato fetish the angels sang as the doors opened. Potato chips everywhere. <weeping with joy>

Can you hear the angels singing? I can.
Can you hear the angels singing? I can.

Our single basket silently morphed into two baskets. Restraint…What? Why? We were on a fried potato binge that had no bottom. No 12-step reform. And this was a bender we could take the 8-year-old on with us. We found tortilla chips, potato sticks, pretzels, popcorn, chips with olive oil, chips with voodoo seasoning. And when you check out they give you MORE potato chips. We joyously filled the back of our car with oily, salty carbohydrates.

Timeline Arcade
Timeline Arcade

From there we headed just down the street to Timeline Arcade, an arcade in an old bank building. When I was a kid I loved going to the arcade. I didn’t have a home gaming system, I had “my” Food Spot (local minute-mart) and its rotation of games (Joust, Wizards and Warlocks, Asteroid). The Food Spot near the flea market had Galaga and on weekends I honed my skills. There was also a game room in Miami I loved, despite that incident with the air hockey puck. As video games became personal arcade games began to disappear, but Timeline is a classic arcade and better yet, it has classic games.

WPT and Q*bert at Timeline Arcade
WPT and Q*bert at Timeline Arcade

For an hour or so, WPT, Garnet, and I were all children. We played everything from Galaga to Q*bert to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Simpsons to Tetris (I didn’t even know there was an arcade version!). They have games I haven’t seen since grade school and they are in great working condition. They also have pinball machines and old home gaming systems connected to TVs. It was like a living, breathing museum to geeky childhoods.

Timeline Arcade
Timeline Arcade

You pay a flat rate to play by the half-hour or can get an all-day pass. We wanted to stay longer, but the snow was on the way, so we piled back into the car and headed south.

Timeline Arcade
Timeline Arcade

We spent months working our way through the chip stash.

For the record, these pair perfectly with decent scotch
For the record, these pair perfectly with decent scotch

Timeline Arcade
22 Carlisle Street, Hanover, PA 17331
Phone: 717-634-2600
Website: http://timelinearcade.net/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/timelinearcade
Admission: $5.00 each 1/2 hour, $9.00 each hour, $25 all day
Hours: Mon – Thurs: 12:00 p.m – 11:00 p.m., Fri – Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m., Sun: 2 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Utz Factory Outlet
900 High Street, Hanover, PA  17331
Phone: 717-637-6644
Website: http://utzsnacks.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Utz-Factory-Outlet-Store/263901810398438
Hours: Mon – Sat: 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Sun: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

So do  these.
So do these.

Musee Mecanique

Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique

The priest waves his crucifix through the air, administering last rites, as the guillotine lops off the head of the condemned and the curtain falls on the “French Execution”, one of more than 200 antique coin-operated amusements that comprise Musee Mecanique, tucked away amidst the touristy bustle of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Musee Mecanique, Laffing Sal
Musee Mecanique, Laffing Sal

The French aren’t the only ones in the Musee’s phantasmagorical collection that show Grand Theft Auto how it’s done; there’s also an “English Execution”. Indeed, violent and nefarious scenes pervade these machines, some of which date back to the 19th century. One could easily picture a young Thomas De Quincey dropping coins in the “Opium Den”. Elsewhere, the shifty-eyed “Flasher” earns his moniker while “Laffing Sal” and “Jolly Jack” manically yuk it up against the strains of a century-old Wurlitzer Orchestrion.

Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique

Musee Mecanique’s founder, the late Edward Zelinsky, began collecting his automatons and amusements in the early 1930s. Today, Zelinsky’s family maintains his legacy in both form and function. Incredibly, all of the arcade’s machines are kept in their original working condition, so bring your pocket change; prices range from one cent to one dollar (most fall in the 25 and 50-cent brackets). Admission to Musee Mecanique is free.

Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique

Musee Mecanique
Taylor Street at Fisherman’s Wharf (Pier 45)
San Francisco, CA 94133
P: (415) 346-2000
Website: http://www.museemecaniquesf.com

HOURS:
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Holidays: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.

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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
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Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique
Musee Mecanique