Monday, March 12, 2012

Disneyland - Starcade

The crowded cosmic alley that the Space Mountain exit dumps you into, where you can get a photograph of you riding on the attraction or make a quick restroom run, also leads to what was once...

...the Starcade.

In the days before everyone had three gaming systems at home, an iPhone and an iPad, people would actually pay a quarter to play a single video game.
Oooh!  Tell us more, Uncle Mike.
It's true, children.
Why, you can still find some of these old-fashioned, coin-operated video game machines at places like your local miniature golf "family fun center," or the waiting areas of some restaurants, or in dimly-lit, smoke-filled bars that sell Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap and smell of decades of spilled pilsner.
In the mid-1980s, there was even a really goofy TV game show called "Starcade" in which contestants played video games for prizes.  Check it out...

I lived through the 80s.
I can safely say that somehow, I never knew of, nor did I ever see even a moment of, "Starcade" back then.
I only came across it in a search for Disneyland's "Starcade," which actually debuted at the Park in 1977 along with Space Mountain.
It had that late 70s vibe.
It had two stories of video and arcade games!
Air hockey?
How about 10 or more tables?
Asteroids?
Pacman?
Tron?
Even Star Wars made an appearance eventually.
Two stories of arcade!
Nowadays, the arcade is confined to the lower level, with two escalators to nowhere blocked off on the first floor.
An old X-wing fighter hangs from the ceiling above the dormant escalators.
No lines for the hottest machine.
No rows of quarters lined up to "reserve" a machine for the next game.
No groups of people milling around.
More merchandise location than arcade.
Even the Peoplemover no longer glides by the second level (or anywhere else in Tomorrowland for that matter!).
The bands cannot be heard from the Space Mountain stage either, since it was long ago covered over for such 3-D extravaganzas as "Magic Journeys," "Captain Eo" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!"
It isn't the lively and bright area it was in the late 70s and early 80s.
It looks like Today finally caught up with Tomorrowland.
Such is life, no?

For now, friends, a fond adieu!
And here's to a great big beautiful Tomorrow!

---Mike

6 comments:

Okie said...

I remember visiting Starcade in one of my early family trips to Disneyland back in 83 or 85. I pumped a few quarters into Galaga (still one of my all-time faves) and some other cabinets. We were only there a few minutes before my parents told us they didn't bring us all the way to Disneyland so we could play arcade games. :-)

On our later trip to Dland, I remember NOT playing in the Starcade, but still got a little arcade fix with a game of Ms. Pacman in the guest laundry room of our hotel.

These days, I'd much rather try my hand at the vintage items in the Penny Arcade on main street.

Tim Kulinski said...

Mike,

Nice post, I remember the Starcade very well. I used to haunt it while waiting for my girlfriend to get off of her shift.

I also had friends that got trained to work the R360 machine back in the 90's and from time to time would stop by to chat with them.

Oh how I miss the starcade, kids today have no idea what it was like and it is in pretty sad shape now.

thanks for posting man and "Move it up Skip!"

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Not that's it makes things better, but the X-wing fighter was moved into the Star Trader store right next to the Starcade. They didn't really clean it up or anything, they just moved it downstairs and its so cluttered up you can't even see the whole thing (or get a decent photo of it)... The whole area is sad, also there are even less machines now, all relegated to the back wall pretty much.

Ironically the late 70's change booth is still there, ghosts and all!

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