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SILVERBALL MUSEUM DELRAY BEACH

We have paid several visits to the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, New Jersey, dating back to the time before it moved to its current home on the boardwalk. So when we heard a second branch had opened in southern Florida on May 28th, we started planning our visit.

It took until October before we could jump on the Florida’s Turnpike and drive around two hours south from Orlando to Delray Beach on the east coast.

While the Asbury Park museum is highly visible with its seafront position, the Delray Beach location is in the city in an area with less footfall. Pinball fans will need to search out the Museum rather than simply stumbling across it.

The Silverball Museum in Delray Beach
The Silverball Museum in Delray Beach
The Museum's entrance
The Museum’s entrance

Walk through the entrance and the first thing you will encounter is the reception desk. It is here that entry to the Museum can be purchased, merchandise bought, and any questions you might have answered.

The reception desk
The reception desk

Entry to the museum is bought on a timed basis. At the time of writing, a 30-minute pass costs $7.50 (€6.73 / £6.00), while extending that to a full hour takes the price up to $10. $15 buys a half-day pass and $25 gets you all-day access. Kids aged four and under get in for free with a paying adult.

For locals there are several monthly payment pass options for $30, $50 or $100 which are also valid at the Asbury Park location.

Entry costs
Entry costs

If you need time to consider the options or just want to enjoy some refreshments then opposite the reception desk is a bar area.

The bar area
The bar area

The bar features stools reclaimed from the Howard Johnson cafe chain when they closed their locations. Behind the bar, the history of the chain is related on an illuminated sign.

The bar stools
The bar stools
The History of Howard Johnson
The History of Howard Johnson

The bar itself has a wider range of drinks, both on tap and in bottles in the two refrigerated display cases. They also have quite a wide range of food available in their menu.

Bottled beverages
Bottled beverages
Beers on tap
Beers on tap
Part of the food menu
Part of the food menu

But back to the Museum, and assuming you have purchased entry, you enter the collection to be met immediately by the older machines in the building – four woodrail games from Gottlieb and Williams.

The four pinballs at the front of the collection
The four pinballs at the front of the collection
Knock Out and Flipper from Gottlieb
Knock Out and Flipper from Gottlieb

As with most of the pinballs at the Museum, the woodrail games have information cards atop the backboxes as well as high score records in a number of categories.

Information and high score cards for each pinball
Information and high score cards for each pinball
Information and high score cards for each pinball
Information and high score cards for each pinball

The games on the main floor are then divided into six long rows. There is a strong leaning towards electromechanicals and early solid-state machines amongst the collection.

Gottlieb wedgehead games
Gottlieb wedgehead games
Electromechanical Bally four-players
Electromechanical Bally four-players
Gottlieb EM machines
Gottlieb EM machines
More Gottlieb EM machines
More Gottlieb EM machines

Many of the games have LEDs fitted which makes them appear much brighter than originally intended, but the warm white effect is more sympathetic to the original look than we have seen at some other locations. It also greatly helps the Museum’s techs since they don’t need to keep replacing burned-out lamps.

LED lighting in this Team One
LED lighting in this Team One
More electromechanical pinballs
More electromechanical pinballs
More wedgehead pinballs
More wedgehead pinballs

There are around a dozen dot-matrix games at the museum. At the time of our visit there was nothing there from the current decade, although since then two Jersey Jack Pinball titles – The Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit – have been added.

Three Stern/Data East DMD titles
Three Stern/Data East DMD titles
Terminator 2 gets a new flipper coil
Terminator 2 gets a new flipper coil
Early and modern flipper games
Early and modern flipper games

It’s not all pinball though. On the far side of the hall from the modern pinballs is a row on mostly non-pinball arcade games, including bowlers, shooters, pitch-and-bats and video games.

Bowling and pitch-and-bat games
Bowling and pitch-and-bat games
Shooters and pitch-and-bat games
Shooters and pitch-and-bat games

Meanwhile, at the back of the hall is a row of skee ball games.

Eight skee ball games
Eight skee ball games
Eight skee ball games
Eight skee ball games

Behind the skee ball lanes is another small room with a couple more electronic pinballs and the bottom of a staircase which leads to the mezzanine level.

This way to more games
This way to more games
Harley Davidson and Monday Night Football
Harley Davidson and Monday Night Football
Up the stairs to the mezzanine level
Up the stairs to the mezzanine level

At the back of the hall on the mezzanine level are four more pinballs and a bunch of video games.

More pinball
More pinball
More video games
More video games

From the mezzanine you also get a great view of the main floor.

Looking down onto the main floor
Looking down onto the main floor

On the mezzanine level at the front of the building is a second bar and yet more games.

The mezzanine level at the front of the building
The mezzanine level at the front of the building

At the front, a large shuffleboard greets visitors to the bar area along with some exhibition games from pinball’s earliest days.

A long shuffleboard game
A long shuffleboard game
Look, but don't touch these early games
Look, but don’t touch these early games
The upper bar area
The upper bar area

To the left of the bar is another row of pinballs with some interesting examples, such as both Bally Kiss backglasses and a New York pinball which is a version of Spirit of 76 designed just for the New York market.

More pinballs next to the upstairs bar
More pinballs next to the upstairs bar
The regular and German Kiss backglasses
The regular and German Kiss backglasses
New York, an EM Evel Knievel and a Nugent
New York, EM Evel Knievel and Nugent

Here’s a complete list of the pinball machines set up to play at the Silverball Museum:

Abra ca Dabra
Addams Family, The
Ali*
Army Navy
Atlantis
Big Bang Bar
Black Hole
Capt. Fantastic
Centigrade 37
Central Park
Charlie’s Angels
Corvette
Diamond Jack
Dimension
Diner
Dixieland
El Dorado
Elvis
Evel Knievel
Fire Queen
Fireball
Flipper
Free Fall
Gemini
Getaway, The: High Speed 2
Gorgar*
Gridiron
Guns N’ Roses
Harley Davidson
Hearts and Spades
Hit the Deck
Hokus Pokus
Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure
Indianapolis 500
Joker Poker
Jumping Jack
King Pin
King Pin
Kiss
Kiss
Knock Out
Lucky Hand
Magic Town
Majorettes
Mata Hari
Monday Night Football
Monster Bash
Neptune
New York
North Star
Nugent
Pinball Magic
Playboy
Pleasure Isle
Pop-A-Card
Pro Pool
Roadshow: Red & Ted’s
Rock Star
Roto Pool
Royal Flush
Sing Along
Slick Chick
Space Mission
Spacelab
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Strange World
Subway
Surfers
Team One
Terminator 2
Theatre of Magic
TKO
Tommy: The Who’s
Wizard!
World Cup Soccer
World Fair
World Poker Tour
World Series
Inside the Silverball Museum
Inside the Silverball Museum

There’s no doubt the collection is skewed heavily towards what could be called the golden age of pinball – the ’60s and ’70s when Gottlieb alone were producing a new machine every month and selling around 40,000 pinballs a year.

That’s quite understandable. Those machines still represent how pinball is remembered by a large majority of the population, and provide an easy introduction into the game for new players.

Sing Along continues to entertain all ages after nearly fifty years
Sing Along continues to entertain all ages after nearly fifty years

The challenge is easily understood but difficult to achieve, and in an environment where your stay is timed and restricted, playing a 30-minute game of The Lord of the Rings is liable not to give great value-for-money. In addition, these classic games continue to inspire features and mechanisms in games designed today.

The Silverball Museum's slogan is 'Play the Classics'
The Silverball Museum’s slogan is ‘Play the Classics’

The Silverball Museum in Delray Beach is a must-visit location for any pinball fan either visiting or living in Florida, and it’s well worth the trip for out-of-state and international visitors too.

The next time we’re in Florida we’ll be back, and making plans to stay locally so we can enjoy everything the Silverball Museum has to offer over several days.

You can find out more about the Silverball Museum at Delray Beach, opening hours, and upcoming events and promotions on their website at silverballmuseum.com.

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