The Roanoke Pinball Museum is an interactive museum (yes, you get to play with some of the pinball machines that are available at the location). The museum is dedicated to more than just collecting pinball machines, though. It is also documenting the science and the art behind the industry. It even includes a lengthy history of the history of pinball. While you may come from the nostalgia of it all, you will learn something about the industry when you are here, and it is well worth the exploration.
The location is packed with pinballs to explore. They span nearly a full 100 years of production, as some of them date back to the 1930s. Others are very modern games that you may not know are still produced today. The museum first opened its doors in 2015, but it has about 60 playable pinball machines on display.
Tours and Info
The Roanoke Pinball Museum is located on Market Square SE. It is located across from Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and near Table 50. It is super easy to get to right off Campbell Ave SW.
For those who are visiting for the first time, plan a few things in advance. First, they are not open on Mondays. From Tuesday through Saturday, the location is open from 11 to 8, and they are open from 1 to 6 on Sundays. The location is on the second floor of the Center in the Square. This location is a group of museums that are located in the downtown area of the city.
There is admission to pay to get in. For most people, it was $13.50 when we visited in 2022. For those who are under 10, the price was $10. Those under the age of 2 are free. If you are going to be in the area for a while, you may want to become a Pinball Patron, which allows you to help to support the organization. You pay a bit more per month and have the ability to visit as often as you want. They also give you free swag each money and, over time, even your own pinball machine at the location. There are some great opportunities here. Be sure to check out this offer if you plan to visit the area on a regular basis.
You can buy tickets to the museum online. I recommend doing this because they can be busy, and it can take some time away from exploring the museum to wait in line.
Also, if you or your kids love the location, you can also set up a birthday party or a special event at the location. This is great – we did not know this was an option, but while visiting, we saw a group of tweens enjoying pinball machines and a party.
As you visit the location, you will find one pinball machine after another. We highly recommend taking the time to work through several of them and try them out. It is quite interesting to see the evolution of the pinball machine over time. For those who are older, you may even find some of your favorite pinball machines from when you were younger.
There are a lot of fantastic options out there, like the 300 from 1975, Eight Ball from 1977, and the Skill Score that dates back to 1932. There are tons here – even dozens, to check out.
When you come in to play and buy a ticket to do so, you can play many of the pinball machines as often as you want. You will learn about the science behind the way the pinball machines work – there are some that are taken apart so you can see the inner workings of them. You can see how much has changed but also how much remains the same in these machines that have been around for nearly 100 years.
You will also learn more about the art of the process, such as the way they are marketed, the colors used in the design, and why they have the designs they do. It is quite interesting to see the various features that are on these pinball machines as they advanced throughout time.
For those who really want to learn a great deal about pinball machines, the team is happy to talk to you. They can discuss the design process with you, the use of backglasses, and why play fields are selected. We learned so much about not just the older versions of the pinball machines but also the new generation of them and how they continue to be so popular.
It takes a couple of hours to really have some fun with the location, though you can get through all the educational components within an hour. We took our time and played a few different games to try it all out.
- Unlimited play included with admission!