UPDATED 1/7/14 Part 2 that covers the Pinball Machines is now posted HERE
I was fortunate enough today to get an early look at the Arcade Expo in Banning California that will be held on January 16-18 2015. There is still time to get advance tickets and they plan to sell tickets at the door. There is a possibility that the could sell out before the show so if you plan on going I would suggest to buy advance tickets now to make sure that you are able to get in.
While the staff is still getting things set up it was great to get an idea of what the show is going to look like and the layout of it. While Banning is a bit of a drive from the Los Angeles area that will take you about an hour and a half to two hours depending where you live it is not that bad of a drive. Getting to the facility is really easy and is off the 10 freeway. The facility is huge and there is plenty of parking available. We were greeted by Erin (Events Specialist), Stephanie (Ticket Operations), Kenny Hardy (Show Director) and Natalie (Sales & Marketing Director) and were really excited to show the facility to us. I brought along my friend Glenn whom has over 35 years experience in arcade and pinball machine work who is my go to consultant for all things arcade related. Erin and Stephanie started the tour on the video game side and walked us around. I had seen pictures of the place in its early stage where it was just an empty space.
The staff whom are fixing the machines along with construction crew were still working on setting up the facility and the machines. I want to note that the all of the photos taken will show the machines in various states. Some are ready and some still need to be cleaned up or fixed. Rest assured that they will be finished in time for the expo’s opening in a couple of weeks. This is a really huge facility and it’s really impressive to see how far they have come considering that a lot of the staff is volunteering their time to make this show a reality. While there were some machines that were playable today for the press event and while I only played a few it was a really overwhelming experience just to see the sheer amount of games that they have.
The facility has plenty of restrooms and there will be seminar rooms, press and VIP rooms, a movie screening room, and a snack area with vending machines. The snack area will have billiards and fooseball tables. While there is no on site food beyond the vending machines there are lots of both fast food and restaurants within easy driving distance from the facility. If you are planning to go to the expo I would probably plan to bring some water or sodas and some snacks to keep you going during the day. In the video game side there is going to be venders that will have items for sale such as t-shirt, home consoles, games and other things. The spaces are sold out and there is a waiting list so make sure that you bring some extra cash in case you want to buy something.
There will be many events during the expo from seminars to films for movie nights that will be great things to do during the expo. One of the other great things that they are doing is a charity fund-raiser Flip For Water and Project Pinball. The Flip for Water helps get clean water in areas that do not have it. You will be able to register for the tournament at the expo.
There is also a kids room that will have some of the games and pinball that are kids sized and the expo is going to be family friendly in the whole area. There will be a special “Adult Room” that will have some of the racier games separate from the regular area.
Today we will look at the video game side of the expo and then on Wednesday cover the pinball side of the expo. Juan Sanchez from The Last Arcade on the Planet has been helping the expo get the video game side ready. Juan has done a really incredible job on getting the video games ready for the expo. There is a great variety of video games that will be playable at the expo. There are the games that everyone knows like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids, Star Wars but there are a lot of very rare and unusual games there also like Airball, Chiller, Three Stooges, Warp Warp, Baby Pac-Man, PinPong, and Blue Shark.
The photo below show the machines in various stages of readiness. A lot of them have not been fully cleaned yet. They will be ready for the expo. Also note that the full lighting for the room was not on so it was tough to get some good pictures of the games. The photos will give you a good idea of what machines will be at the expo. The good news is that the machines are in really good shape considering the age of some of them. Not all of the machines were on the floor yet and the video game room is also where the venders area is going to be.
Here are some photos of the general layout to the video game side. They have done a great job of having plenty of area to move around with the aisles nice and open so you should be able to move around easily.
Here are some pictures of some of the individual games. I tried to get picture of some of the more unusual games that you might not be familiar with. Rest assured that all of the more well-known games are there also. I have been to a lot of arcades over the years and there are machines at the expo that I have either never seen or have not seen in over at least 20+ years. So be prepared to spend all day at the expo playing games. With over 200 video games to choose from you will not be disappointed in the great selection. Trust me when I say that it was very difficult to want a lot of the machines plugged in today to get a head start.
That’s it for part one of the press preview day. Next up will be the pinball and the gun-room with vintage rifle games. I want to thanks all of the staff that was at the expo today that took time out of their many projects to show us around and answer our many questions.