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Aladdin's Castle: what was it like?


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#26 Dauber OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:23 PM

Wow; this thread is over a year old and somehow I missed it.
 
What was Aladdin's Castle like? It depends. I've been to two in my life.
 
The one I remember more fondly was the Aladdin's Castle at Lincoln Mall in Matteson, IL. It was on the lower level, right by the entrance to Montgomery Ward. In its prime, the place was effing *huge*. Many speak of the time when there was a large room with bumper cars in the arcade, but I don't remember that; by the time I'd been going semi-regularly, that room was all cocktail tables. I remember playing Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong cocktails, in fact. I seem to remember the latest popular games were right up front, with the older classics kind of in the middle, between the section of new stuff and the cocktail table room. The joint was spotless, and it wreaked of the smell of burning ozone...a smell that many years later I happily experienced again at YesterCades in Red Bank, NJ. But yeah, there was a great selection of games of all kinds. First time I went there it was called LeMans Speedway, and it was all pinball machines. But shortly after that when Pac-Man came out, it was a video game mecca. Still had pinball machines a-plenty for pretty much the rest of its life, but man...the sounds of the video games...wow...
 
There was also a video jukebox up front...yep, pop a token in, and you could select a music video to watch on the big screen! (Well, maybe 19 inches, but with the sound piped through the whole arcade.)
 
Aladdin's Castle at Lincoln Mall is where I Was first exposed to most of the Pac-Man games. I definitely remember that arcade introducing me to Ms. Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, the Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man pinball machine, Baby Pac-Man, Pac-Man and Chomp-Chomp (dead serious, btw), and Pac-Land.
 
Where I lived at the time -- Bourbonnais, IL -- was (and still is) a crappy excuse for a town, and the nearest mall at the time was Lincoln Mall, about 30 miles north. (Bourbonnais now does have a mall, well...sort of -- it's in bordering neighbor Bradley.) We would all go to Lincoln Mall once a month. And of course the highlight was going to Aladdin's Castle with the dollar my dad would give me. That's only four tokens, so I had to choose my games very carefully. (I missed out on a LOT of great classics back then because I was VERY picky and wanted to play games that I knew would last me at least a few minutes!) Once I used up the dollar, that was *it*. No more, at least not from my dad. Once in a while I'd find a stray token on the floor, and my dad wouldn't stop me from using it, or maybe my brother (ten years my senior) would have an extra token or two he didn't plan to use up and he'd toss 'em my way, but other than that, the dollar was it for me: four games. (I didn't waste my tokens on anything that took more than one token...which at the time I think was only Dragon's Lair, which was up front with a second monitor on top.)
 
As the years went on, though, the arcade changed. The crash didn't really affect it too much at first -- the only real change I noticed is that the cocktail table room had become a room full of Neo-Geo cabs and a few redemption games -- but late in the '80s, and definitely the early-to-mid-'90s, things got bad. Last time I was there -- some time in 1997 -- the Aladdin's Castle had become nothing more than a nameless, unattended storefront game room with unfamiliar quarter-munching video games, and just one row. No longer was it the big honkin' palace it used to be.
 
The other Aladdin's Castle I knew of was at Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet, IL. My dad, after two years of unemployment, landed a job in Joliet, about 32 miles northwest (that place was heaven compared to where we used to live!) and so we moved there in 1986. Joliet had two malls at the time, so the trips to Lincoln Mall were nearly zero, although we did go once in a while. The Aladdin's Castle at the Louis Joliet Mall was a disappointment compared to the one at Lincoln Mall. Nothing fancy, just a room full of video games. No special sections. Basically, just a big dark space (maybe a third of the size of the Lincoln Mall Aladdin's Castle) where they just threw some video games. I didn't go there all that much. That Aladdin's Castle was definitely there as late as 1998; don't know if it's still there now.
 
So why was the Aladdin's Castle in Joliet much more lacklustre compared to the one in the Lincoln Mall? I don't know, because I had been to both places just days apart when the Lincoln Mall location was still great (even though it was post-crash)...the only thing I can think of was the Lincoln Mall location was actually *Bally's* Aladdin's Castle, while the Louis Joliet Mall's location didn't have the Bally's name anywhere to be found. Same logo and font, just without the Bally name attached.


#27 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:11 PM

It's definitely not rose-tinted nostalgia glasses. Arcades used to be truly amazing, but now they are deserts. Sorry but not spending $20 in ticket redemption machines to redeem a cheap dollar store quality toy. But I'd sink $20 into a Donkey Kong cab easily if I ever find one IRL. ;-)



#28 Cafeman OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Sep 28, 2016 5:29 AM

What's there to say? Aladdin Castles were huge fantastic arcades in the the 80s. We had Tilt arcades in the 90s, also pretty good until the end of that decade.

#29 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2016 4:11 AM

I don't believe there was any significant differences in arcades of yore. They were all selling a dream. They were all selling a trip into another world. A fantasy world of strange and weird environments populated with unique vehicles and creatures, set upon any terrain and backdrop imaginable.

 

That's a time that'll never come again.

 

However, today, I do judge arcades on how well they can go back in time and pull that environment forward. A surprisingly small number of arcades are capable of doing that.



#30 Hyperturtle OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 9, 2017 7:20 PM

I had a birthday party at one; it was in Springhill Mall in Illinois; I received a bright red Aladdin's Castle t-shirt and I think a group photo with a bunch of lovely looking 80s teenage and college aged girls that worked there at the time.  But I was too much into video games to appreciate the nuances of that.  I can think back fondly on it, though, as it was the most blonde and female interaction I can recall having recently.

 

And Keatah, to hear you speak of Down the Hatch in Roselle near the Ground Round...  -- do you remember the jack-in-the-box nearby that, or Tri-village?  That jack-in-the-box didn't last long.

 

Tri-Vllage on the otherhand, was a regular standby.  I believe they were in streamwood where across the street was hanover park.  Anyway, they were on the border of three townships--I forget what township #3 was (maybe Roselle or Schaumburg?  i was the guy that got them to finally add shredded cheese to their italian beefs.  I told them I wanted that and they were going to break out the goop and I said nooo use real cheese -- I'll pay extra!  And there was a minor argument and one of the owners came out and said that he'd never do it normally because it's not how its done, but if it makes me happy... Then the next time I was there, on the chalkboard was NEW ITEM ITALIAN BEEF WITH SHREDDED CHEESE.  Then they sold out 6 months or a year later and we got another walgreens in place of a family store.  go figure.  I guess it's better than another mdconalds.

 

Anyway Just Games was down the street in Hanover Park, either just off irving park or Wise road near what was a k-mart at the time).   Tri-village, down the hatch and ground round were by the Zayre's in the "tradewins" shopping/ strip mall.  The primary lure, if I remember correctly, was a $1.00 or $1.50 movie theatre.

 

I am not sure what the mall was called that had the Just Games, but there was a radio shack there and maybe a pet store... probably an asian food market and vcr tape rental place.  K-mart was the big draw for that strip mall.  That mall was right by where Irving Park and Wise Road forked into a Y; Family Video I think was on that island in the Y.



#31 Curious Sofa OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jan 9, 2017 10:14 PM

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I'm from Cedar Falls IA, and we had a few arcades around that I haunted continuously in the late 70's through the early 90's.  One was a little one at College Square Mall that only recently (?!) finally closed, a one-off locally run little joint.  I spent way too much time with Pac-Man, Mat Mania, Star Wars Arcade, and Gauntlet there.  Had my wallet stolen once, but thankfully it was found (but with my cash missing).  For the most part, it was a nice little arcade.  In the last few years like most they went to rides / redemption only.  But in the heyday, I remember they had a whiteboard where they would list the forthcoming machines, and they'd put up promo posters to get us all excited.

 

My friends and I made regular road trips the 90 minutes south down to Iowa City.  They mostly wanted to go down there for the comic shops, but I went for Aladdin's Castle in the Old Capitol Mall.  They had "exotic" games that I never saw anywhere in my hometown, like Road Runner with the Trackball, and Crossbow with that massive plastic and wood crossbow.  Eventually I went to Iowa City for school, and after managing the U of Iowa's Memorial Union arcade awhile (ran some tournaments to drum up business, planned to own my own arcade after graduating but it all fell through), I worked for that Aladdin's Castle at nights during school.  It was a Namco product then.  I wasn't very good at fixing machines (and even the manager who supposedly was fried himself pretty good a few times on stored charges in monitors), but I still did a good job there.  Because Virtua Fighter 3 wasn't doing well (to my & my friends surprise) and because the machines were something outrageous like $13k apiece, they made all the locations gut their VF3 machines, cutting and gutting them into NFL Blitz.  It was a horror show.  Fortunately for me, I managed to snag the cardboard Dural VF3 hanging sign before anyone knew what was going on (we were supposed to send them back to corporate for god knows what reason).  I still have mine today :)

 

Virtua_Fighter_3_Game.jpg

 



#32 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:08 AM

We didn't get our first mall in Joliet until 1976 (The long gone Jefferson Square Mall,) and they didn't have an Aladdin's castle.  In 1978, we got the Louis Joliet Mall, and I believe Aladdin's Castle was one of the first tennants.  I remember the arcade being terribly small, but it had pretty much all the famous, as well as some rare games back then.  I remember playing Firefox, Star Rider and I, Robot there.

Now the Lincoln Mall in Matteson, IL (mall having been closed for 2 years  almost to this day) had a HUGE Aladdin's castle - probably the largest arcade in the Chicago area at the time. The gaming floor was massive, and they had a room with bumper cars!  After a while, they removed the bumper cars, and replaced it with a bunch of arcade cocktail tables.  Man, that was an awesome arcade.


Edited by Inky, Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:11 AM.


#33 Dauber OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:10 AM

To add to what Inky said about Aladdin's Castle --- and to my lengthier post -- I'm wondering if perhaps Aladdin's Castle at Lincoln Mall was huge perhaps because just up the interstate was Wiliams and Midway Games, and so it'd be easy to move games back and forth to that particular location. In fact, I have a theory that the Lincoln Mall's Aladdin's Castle might have been testing grounds for Pac-Man And Chomp-Chomp, which would explain why I saw that game once and only once, at that arcade...



#34 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 10, 2017 11:28 AM

I had a birthday party at one; it was in Springhill Mall in Illinois; I received a bright red Aladdin's Castle t-shirt and I think a group photo with a bunch of lovely looking 80s teenage and college aged girls that worked there at the time.  But I was too much into video games to appreciate the nuances of that.  I can think back fondly on it, though, as it was the most blonde and female interaction I can recall having recently.

 

And Keatah, to hear you speak of Down the Hatch in Roselle near the Ground Round...  -- do you remember the jack-in-the-box nearby that, or Tri-village?  That jack-in-the-box didn't last long.

 

 

Seems Aladdin's Castle was the arcade choice among girls and women. Especially when the big-hair era overlapped Aladdin's prime-time.

 

I remember that Jack-In-The-Box. There was a sub-terranean Precision Video next door. But not at the same time. PV came a little later IIRC. Roselle Road and all of 58/72 were 2 lanes only.



#35 bradhig1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:22 AM

Went to one at Jamestown Mall in St. Louis Country.   The mall is now closed.



#36 20ohm20 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:33 PM

I've only been to one Aladdin's Castle in my life while I was on vacation with my family in Burlington, VT in 1983.  The only thing I remember is that it was the first and last time I saw a Wizard of Wor machine in an arcade.

 

Was there any Aladdin's Castles in Southern California during the 1980's?  The only arcades I remember in malls within 30 miles or so of where I lived at the time were all Time Outs or independently owned/operated.

 



#37 bradhig1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:52 PM

They used to have monitors on top of some of the machines so people could watch others play without looking over there shoulders.  Never understand how those monitors got the signal from the arcade machines 



#38 racerx OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:13 PM

They used to have monitors on top of some of the machines so people could watch others play without looking over there shoulders.  Never understand how those monitors got the signal from the arcade machines 

 

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#39 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:41 PM

I used to think Alladin's Castle had some secret portal hidden in the back somewhere I could step through and find the lamp in the cave from where the Genie from the Disney movie lives. I would have asked for an arcade in my bedroom. I just walk through my closet and on the other side, a fully stocked arcade on freeplay. Funny the imagination little kids can have. I did finally get the Nintendo I asked my parents for every year at Christmas... In 2002 when I was 21 years old! :lolblue:



#40 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:18 PM

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the caves of disneyland, the city below the park. And the backdoors in the malls.. Great stuff. But I never imagined portals in my bedroom or closet. At least nothing I immediately recall. Instead I made my room into what I wanted it to be. Beanbags, bedsheets, cardboard, extra furniture, spare wires and radios and parts and stuff from then contemporary stores like Olson Electronics, Lafayette Electronics, RadioShack and of course Heathkit.. That was my list of construction materials. Under-bed forts, half-height bookcases, hastily made-up control consoles and cubbyholes..

 

---

 

I was indeed happier when I didn't know about companies and how they worked. Knowing just the names was enough to put an ineffable flavor in my head . Arcade games seemed to magically show up on any arbitrary day and that was cool. My kiddie brain couldn't comprehend where they came from. I got to look inside some cabinets and instantly saw that the games had way more chips than the VCS or any other console. Bigger too. And that made the cabs so much smarter and faster and have better graphics and sound. The arcade with its games was all-powerful. A world outside of this one. A portal in and of itself I suppose.

 

But they were just games. Not real computers. When I got my Apple II with something like 100+ chips in it I was quickly confounded by why arcade games will still more vibrant. Then I learned about general purpose computers vs custom chips vs dedicated games and all that. Really heady times. And I wanted to simplify it all and have one machine handle everything! The rest became future history.

 

---

 

I was always dismayed when my teachers and parents didn't like me hanging around "those places" they were supposedly full of druggies and no-gooders. My whining and rambling about technology and electronics and programs didn't phase them one bit. And I always fought against the slacker and drop-out image. At least I didn't go breaking into storage lockers or sneaking into work at 10pm to steal computers and modems - like some non-arcade goers of the day I knew. That didn't paint a better picture either.



#41 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:27 PM

What I forgot to mention was I would get unusually upset when they took away a favorite game(s) of mine. I simply could not comprehend why they would do such a thing when it was the greatest game on Earth. The double nut-kicker was when it got replaced with some dumb fighting game that had no story, no challenge, just a buncha mindless slapping and pounding. Don't need a videogame for that, now, do we?



#42 schuwalker OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:20 AM

I had a birthday party at one; it was in Springhill Mall in Illinois; I received a bright red Aladdin's Castle t-shirt and I think a group photo with a bunch of lovely looking 80s teenage and college aged girls that worked there at the time.  But I was too much into video games to appreciate the nuances of that.  I can think back fondly on it, though, as it was the most blonde and female interaction I can recall having recently.

 

 

 

 

That particular arcade was other home for a while. :-D

 

I loved that arcade to death, It's still was one of the best "Castle" arcades I visited.

 

When I picked up a pin from a from a fella in the 'burbs; he used be employed at Bally/Midway in the early '80s. (I was trying to recall if he was in sales or something like that.)

 

Anyways, he mentioned that was the testing spot for testing new Bally Midways games. Which makes sense, since I remember encountering Discs of Tron (environmental), Pac-Land, Satan's Hollow, Journey and Professor Pac, Zwackery for the first time.

 

Man, he had some awesome "behind the scenes" stories. Wish I could find his contact info again.

 

Good memories!



#43 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jan 14, 2017 10:45 PM

There was a good local arcade near me where I grew up in Amherst NH.  My time in the arcades was from about 87 to 94, so I enjoyed a lot of the late 80's to early 90's great games.  They did have some pre-crash games, though.  It closed shortly after I went to college in Fall 94.

 

But I went to college at Plymouth State in NH from 94-98, about a 30 minute drive from Funspot.  Went there with friends about once a month.  It was smaller in those days but still filled with classic arcade games.

 

Pinball Wizard in Pelham NH is about a hour and half from me.  Went once about a year ago, and want to get back there again.

 

There's a Dave and Busters near me in Providence I go to about every three months for modern games.  They do have a lot of redemption games, but as long as I get actual GAME play out of it, I don't mind, and they have some good ones.

 

There's also, to my surprise, a small game room still functional at the Providence airport.  I only get to use it once a year when I fly, but they actually have a good mix of games.  This year it had three pinball games (including the newish Game of Thrones, which was quite fun), a shooting game, a driving game, and a multipurpose classic arcade cab, which is SO against the law I'm shocked it's still there!



#44 Centurion OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 3:47 AM

I have fond memories of Aladdin's Castle and LeMans. I loved how they were so dimly lit and how magic it looked with the glow of the machines. Tons of great games.

A friend had a birthday party one time and we all got a cup full of tokens. I felt like it was MY birthday! I had such a great time. Even got tickets and traded them in for cheap little HE-MAN figures and stuff. It must have been the late 80's, because during the mid 90's they started getting rid of the older machines and that's when arcades around here started going south, iirc.

I really miss good arcades... But, I did get to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas recently and had a wonderful time! Love that place.

Thanks for the memories

#45 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 4:00 AM

I have fond memories of Aladdin's Castle and LeMans. I loved how they were so dimly lit and how magic it looked with the glow of the machines. Tons of great games.

 

Yes that would be accurate. I do not like today's arcades because they cram way too many games into the building. There is little or no design aesthetic to the floor layout. Just cram every damned game in. Row after row. I might as well just scroll through a list on MAME or something.

 

AND they don't have the darkened mood lighting and decor. While not essential to playing games it is essential to socialization and the relaxing atmosphere of a whole different world.



#46 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:07 PM

I have fond memories of Aladdin's Castle and LeMans. I loved how they were so dimly lit and how magic it looked with the glow of the machines. Tons of great games.

A friend had a birthday party one time and we all got a cup full of tokens. I felt like it was MY birthday! I had such a great time. Even got tickets and traded them in for cheap little HE-MAN figures and stuff. It must have been the late 80's, because during the mid 90's they started getting rid of the older machines and that's when arcades around here started going south, iirc.

I really miss good arcades... But, I did get to visit the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas recently and had a wonderful time! Love that place.

Thanks for the memories

Dauber...  I wonder if the arcade at Lincoln Mall started as a LeMans, then reverted to Aladdin's Castle after the bumper cars were removed...


Edited by Inky, Fri Jan 27, 2017 1:08 PM.


#47 Dauber OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:12 PM

Dauber...  I wonder if the arcade at Lincoln Mall started as a LeMans, then reverted to Aladdin's Castle after the bumper cars were removed...


http://atariage.com/...like/?p=3602491

:)

#48 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:53 PM

I did not catch that.



#49 beteljuice OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:44 PM

The "Sears Arcade" I enjoyed back in the late 70s/early 80s was actually the Atari VCS demo kiosk that was in the sporting goods section of my local Sears store. My brother and I would race to that area after promising to meet our parents by the parking lot entrance in an hour's time. Depending on what day we were there, we either had a good half hour of uninterrupted fun playing the games, or we were under the watchful eyes of one of the clerks who would shoo us away after a few minutes.

The rest of our hour would be spent at the Aladdin's Castle in the mall that our Sears was connected to (the Pontiac Mall in Michigan, which later became the Summit Place Mall before falling into ruins). We learned very quickly the time honored tradition of placing your quarters/tokens on the marquee glass of a game you wanted to play in order to hold your place in line. My quarters were spent on Tempest, Major Havoc and Galaga.

#50 Zonie OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Mar 13, 2017 2:20 PM

I vaguely recall having an Aladdin's Castle here in AZ at Fiesta Mall in Mesa (or was it at Metrocenter in Phoenix), but they weren't my part of town. We had SuperFun at Paradise Valley Mall which was huge and a smaller one at Los Arcos Mall in S. Scottsdale (gone now) and then a little strip center arcade called Fun Factory III in N. Scottsdale. The biggest and the best was Video Roundup in Old Town Scottsdale. 200+ games. The biggest arcades here now are at the Sunsplash water park/golf place in Mesa AZ, and one at MetroCenter in Phoenix, and of course, those Dave and Busters' types of places that are not the same thing, and the retro games were hacked into these wooden 1800's looking cabinets.

The Big Superfun had a big star shaped opening to the place and the pinballs were on an upper level. It was the kind of place you could spend all saturday at while Mom was shopping.

The Sunsplash has a good selection of Pinball machines still, or did a couple of years ago...

 

Luckily I was able to bring my now 22 yr old son into some of these places when he was little.






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