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Monday, Jan 21, 2019
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Amusement museum brings back old pastimes

— For Iris Calloway, the shuttering of a Treasure Island arcade about a decade ago meant her go-to pastime would be out of reach.

“Pinball is my favorite thing in the whole world,” she said.

The Palm Harbor resident, who said her favorite game was Duke Nukem Forever, now has a new spot to partake in pinball that’s even closer to home.

On Friday, Replay Amusement Museum opened to the public at 119 Tarpon Ave.

Dozens of pinball machines — including, the owners say, the world’s largest — and classic, stand-up video games line its brick interior walls — in total more than 100 old-school arcade games.

“This is wonderful,” Calloway said.

Replay isn’t an arcade in the traditional sense. It’s not a spot where parents drop off their kids on a rainy day, nor can unaccompanied minors pump quarters into machines for hours on end. Instead, the target audience is a nostalgia crowd, anyone who fondly remembers playing pinball or Street Fighter II or tabletop Pac-Man or any other electronic game that was a fixture at some point during the last part of the 20th Century.

Paying a flat $13 admission fee gets you a full day of access to all of the games, as well as a couple of refurbished vinyl-spinning juke boxes that play the likes of the Marvelettes and Bill Haley & His Comets.

Brian Cheaney, 36, and his wife, Becky, are co-owners. The Palm Harbor residents aim to preserve the machines as cultural relics. “We’re collectors at heart, and this is the embodiment of our collection,” he said. “These were in our house, they were at our work.”

There’s also the aim of introducing younger generations, many of whom start playing video games on their parents’ smartphones as toddlers, to the world of old-school video gaming. For example, they rigged the game Minecraft — which is wildly popular with children and ’tweens — so that it can be played just as one plays Donkey Kong or Mega Man.

“We are a museum, we want to preserve these and show these to all ages, but we’re not an arcade in the truest sense of the word,” Cheaney said.

St. Petersburg resident Dave Hall, 62, was among the first to show up Friday. The retiree said he bought a three-day pass and plans to make the drive two more times this weekend.

“Even though it’s a 45-minute drive, I’m a pinball nut,” he said. “I was absolutely thrilled to find out about this place this week.”

He said his favorites are the Addams Family and the Twilight Zone, which were both among the rows of pinball machines.

“I’m elated. I would still be into it, but the fact that they’re in here is good,” Hall said.

Gerard Pascarello, 28, of Oldsmar, said he took the day off from his job as a security manager at a large chain retailer to scope out the selection of games.

“I haven’t been to an arcade in years,” he said. “It’s nice to have something to go back to from my childhood.”

The museum’s grand opening continues from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

[email protected]

(727) 215-7999

Twitter: @kbradshawTBO

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