Let’s head back to the 80s… clearly a simpler time for us Gen Xers where a day spent well was at the arcade on a Saturday afternoon. Mine was called “Aladdin’s Castle” in Sheboygan, WI at Memorial Mall. The adrenaline you would feel as your parents dropped you off, walking down the mall, getting closer to the sounds of your enemies being defeated. The smell of teenage angst as you strolled among each game, deciding on who was worthy of your quarter that day, and whose high score were you about to annihilate. Before gaming consoles really took off, this was our place to hang, to play, to fall in love, and to let off some good ole steam of the week. Nothing would make me happier than to have a baggie full of quarters, a ride to the Mall, and the freedom to play as long as I wanted. Then life happened….things change, you raise a family, go to work, pay your bills, and that small, tiny amount of freedom that Arcade brought you seems to just sit on a dusty shelf in your memory.Then I found Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, Illinois….and I was a teenager again. On the outside, you wouldn’t know the treasure that this city block holds. And when I say city block, I mean a CITY BLOCK. They have over 700 games between the Arcade and Pinball Machines – the largest arcade in the Country! Who knew the gem I had found? I called to make sure they were open (Covid) and I was pleasantly surprised that they had just reopened! Open 11am- 2 am, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. What makes this place unique is that the machines don’t run on quarters, just a one time fee at the door of $20 for the Arcade, $15 for Pinball, and $30 for both and you can play all day, as long as you want! I found this detrimental to my ALIENS game, as I played it to completion for over an hour. On side note, its gamer etiquette to give someone else a turn when someone is waiting. There was literally no one near me the entire time I played it.After paying, he explained to us how to reset the machine to start it again once your turn had expired. Basically, hit the red button below for continued game play. I didn’t run to a game at first, I just wanted to walk the rows. Yes, the nerd I am, I closed my eyes, mask on, and just listened to my teenage years flood back. Pac-Man, Gauntlet, Tapper, Pole Position, Paper Boy, Pengo and Dig Dug…. All of them like old friends who I was having my own special little reunion with. My smile just kept on growing…room after room of memories. It’s exactly how I felt when I walked into the 80’s Café in Colorado, you just never wanted to leave. That nostalgia feeling is something pretty powerful, and maybe it’s because I am middle-age now, but it’s like a drug I can’t get enough of.I was there on a Sunday, July 5th, 2020, and I felt it was pretty quiet. Now, they had just reopened that week, so the word may have not gotten out yet. Masks are encouraged here, and they ask you don’t play a game right next to someone, staying social distancing aware. Now I can tell you that when you are REALLY into your game, you aren’t looking at who is around you, so try to keep it in mind as best you can. In the old days, I remember all of my friends gathered around me at the machine, not an inch of space to be found. Not now, and honestly, who needs the pressure? Back then I remember playing Pitfall and thinking “Stop crowding me and I might just be able to get past this stupid level!”What I discovered revisiting my childhood from a place of adulthood now, is that wow, technology had definitely changed how we game, but how much those joysticks truly sucked. I don’t know how many times I would just need to turn quickly or jump in sucession and that thing would be so slow to react that half the time I would just give up on the game and go play something else. We have been spoiled by gaming systems, and although perfect for the introvert at home and now, a pandemic, the community feel of the Arcade was something really special. I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, and I thank Jesus every day that I was blessed to have a childhood without IPhones and the Internet.I played for about 3 hours time, taking a break to buy a soda and just walk around for awhile. There are small snacks you can purchase, along with water or soda, but you won’t find alcohol here or any meal type food. So if you’d like to make it an all day thing, you can leave and come back the same day – Culvers is just down the street for a quick lunch outside (no dine in right now). I found the $20 worth it for the three hours I played, and I didn’t find my mask to be bothersome at all while playing. It is air conditioned in there, and there are stools for you to sit and play if you choose not to stand. My favorite game wound up being “ALIENS” because I felt “Why not prepare myself for the next 2020 thing?” and also an old favorite “Pengo” that I played nonstop at my familys campground we owned.I played about 15 games of the 700, there were so many choices my head was going to explode. I enjoyed playing “Frogger” and making sure I put George Costanza’s initials in the high scores. I loved the attention to detail with the Arcade on giving props to all the Gamers out there- he has World Records and High Scores on top of most of the games, along with a “Hall of Fame” of Gamers who made their mark on the Arcade. I WILL be back again this summer to enjoy another day of play, thanks for the nostalgia…we all need a dose of it now and then. Check out more of my travels through Illinois HERE– enjoy!
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Going from “What If? to “Why Not” is my life motto and I work hard at living that every day. I share everything from moving to Florida to live near Disney World to road trips across the States. I love the cool, quirky, and crazy stuff that I can find on my Adventures, and every dollar you donate helps support my efforts and hard work. Thank you to ALL who support me!