– Laura Lundberg
Few people think of going to an arcade when making Friday night plans. These game havens were at the height of their popularity in the 1980’s, yet times changed, and as console games came to be popular among consumers, arcades rapidly began to disappear from cities. However, there are still a few arcades left today that flash and pop and are accompanied by 8-bit music and bad 80’s theme songs. One of these arcades is located in Portland, Oregon.
Nickel arcades used to be much more old fashioned than the arcade games of today, but at the Avalon Theater just east of downtown Portland, the nickel arcade has kept the old-school gaming scene alive since 1925. Avalon is one of the six nickel arcade locations owned by the company Electric Castle Wunderland and houses over one hundred games inside its building, including video games and classic arcade games. With choices like the Japanese drift racing game Initial D, two pinball machines, skee ball, air hockey tables, claw games and rapid fire coin redemption games, an arcade enthusiast could be easily overwhelmed with the amount of choices that Avalon provides.
While video games do not give the player any sort of monetary reward for playing them, there are plenty of redemption games for people who wish to win a prize out of their experience at Avalon. For only 5 nickels, the price for one time playing many of the redemption games, one can play Jumpin Jackpot and win up to 150 tickets. These tickets can be turned into candy, Silly Bandz, army men, necklaces, light up glasses, clocks, lava lamps, and a variety of other prizes.
Avalon is not only an arcade. It also doubles as a $1.50 movie theatre in the small auditoriums adjacent to the arcade. Like the Cinemark 12 theatre here in Eugene, the theater shows movies that have just left the big screen theatre and are one step away from becoming DVDs. With such movies as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Tron: Legacy, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader, Avalon is sure to show movies that those that frequent the arcade will enjoy seeing.
According to Gina Blake, a frequent customer, the Avalon Theatre and Arcade location was originally a mortuary, and from there became a brothel and an adult theatre before it turned into an arcade. With such an interesting history, one has to wonder what it could become be in the future. However, until the Electric Castle Wunderland sells the Avalon Theatre, it shall remain a place of the past, with nickels as the commodity and fun as the trade.