Arnolds Family Fun Center

Mondays at the Museum


So here is a very real scenario that some of you may have to address one day.  You've just spent your morning at the American Treasure Tour.  You had a lot of fun - it was interesting, your guide on the tram ride was informative, funny, and amazingly cute - but you still have some time to explore the region and you don't know what to do next.  Of course you're hungry, so you try out the Bistro at Arnold's, on the opposite side of the building from the Treasure Tour.  

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You COULD spend your afternoon at Arnold's Family Fun Center, which is an excellent option if you like to have, as the name implies, fun.  They have electric indoor go-karts, bowling, arcade games, a carousel, Skee-Ball, duckpin bowling, bumpe--you know what?  Describing it here, the very real question that comes up is why you would consider going someplace else besides Arnold's?  You're already here, since you had lunch at the Bistro.  Just get one of those plastic card thingy-mabobs from the check-in desk at Arnold's and go bonkers.  They have all kinds of games for people of all ages. They're open until 9:00 p.m., so you better call your family and tell them to meet you at Arnold's because you won't be home for dinner, either.

Bumper Cars

QUESTION:  Which one of the following men is considered the creator of the first bumper car?
A). Victor Levand
B). Max Stoehrer
C). Harold Stoehrer
D). Ray Lusse

What kid doesn't love a bumper car?  Okay, we can amend that question a little bit:  what kid at heart doesn't love a bumper car?  They are, of course, part of an American tradition found in amusement parks. You climb into a tiny car and sit very close to the ground.  If you're lucky, your car will have a ring of rubber around it to cushion the blow when you and everyone else in an enclosed area do everything you can to drive into one another at maximum speed (maximum speed generally reaching no higher than four or five miles per hour), trying to give friends and strangers a bit of a jolt before they give the same to you. There's no doubt these are not for everyone, but the people who enjoy them enjoy them a lot!

The American Treasure Tour has had the pleasure to display two bumper cars in our Toy Box for years. A recent acquisition has doubled our inventory of historic bumper cars, effectively inspiring the blog staff to dedicate a few days to telling the story of these strange but fascinating pieces of entertainment. Of course, we do need to let you know that the bumper cars on display here at the Treasure Tour are for looking and appreciating only. If we whet your appetite and make you hunger for immersion into bumper car driving, we encourage you to go to the other side of our building, to Arnold's Family Fun Center.  They have actual cars there you can ride and, of course, use to drive into your friends in a safe and happy environment! So climb on in and let's get ready for the ride.

ANSWER:  A), B), or C). This was kind of a trick question, since Levand and the Stoehrers are all given that honor by different people.  Ray Lusse is considered the man who perfected the technology, and in fact was sued by the Stoehrers for his designs.

Nickel Arcades

QUESTION:  Nickel arcades surely charge a nickel for game play. But is a nickel arcade called that because the entire building in which the arcade is housed is made out of pure nickel?
A)  Yes, absolutely!
B)  No, that's crazy.
C)  All of the above
D)  Thomas Jefferson

Yesterday's blog was devoted to the Buffalo Nickel Nickel Arcade. We imagine hundreds - if not thousands - of our loyal readers are curious to know what exactly a nickel arcade is, and if such a thing actually exists. The short answer is that of course they exist; however, they are now few and far between. Originally, they were called penny arcades because it cost a penny to play a game. That began around 1905, when store owners brought together slot machines, fortune tellers, shooter games, and anything else people were willing to drop their hard-earned pennies into for entertainment. Inflation impacted the industry and soon enough everything cost a nickel. Within a few short decades, games cost a quarter, then a dollar.  If you're lucky to find an arcade today, like Arnold's Family Fun Center in Oaks, Pennsylvania, for example, you don't need to worry about inserting money into the games at all - you use a plastic card, like a credit card, to play!

Admittedly, nickel arcades have become fairly scarce these days. If you google 'nickel arcade,' you'll find a few of them in Texas, California, and a few other spots around the country. Some of them charge an admission to enter the facility, but all games once inside cost a nickel to play, and can be a lot of fun. One of the most spectacular examples of an old-fashioned penny arcade is the Musee Mechanique on Pier 45 in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area. Their games can be quite historic, but they are often surprisingly fun to this day. We at the American Treasure Tour like to think of them as a delightful alternative to us on the west coast (but they don't take you around their collection on a tram, so there's that).

ANSWER:  B)  No, that's crazy. Nickel is expensive, which is why American nickels are made using 75% copper and only 25% nickel.