The Next Level Pinball Shop & Museum in Hillsboro is Oregon’s giant arcade. The establishment has 238 pinball machines and more than 200 other games.
After receiving the award for Favorite Pinball Location at the annual TWIPY Pinball Awards hosted on Saturday, 25 March 2023, in Frisco, Texas, it can now add “greatest location to play pinball in the world” to its list of accolades.
The TWIPYS, which stand for “This Week in Pinball Awards,” are the people’s choice honors of the pinball industry. They are organized by “This Week in Pinball,” a prominent website for enthusiasts.
The previous year, in addition to bringing home the TWIPY for Best Pinball Location, Next Level also got home the award for Favorite Pinball Tournament.
The arcade’s popularity stems from its size and its one-of-a-kind payment system. The pinball and arcade games at Next Level are fully configured for free play, so players do not need to bring any money or swipe cards with them. The day pass allows visitors unlimited space for the price of $20.
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Near the Hillsboro airport and occupying a warehouse area of 10,000 square feet, Next Level opened its doors in 2017 with a selection of somewhat limited (but still sizable) games.
The collection of fun and memorabilia has expanded over the years to fill the entire 20,000-square-foot facility. There are plans to put on another 6,000 square feet next year to accommodate the collection’s expansion.
“We have a big 10-year plan,” said co-owner Jordan Carlson. “If you think of Disneyland, we’re trying to build Arcade-land. We’re eventually going to hold close to 1,200 arcades and pinballs.”
The games aren’t the only thing that sets Next Level apart from the competition. It’s the tens of thousands of pieces of pop culture artifacts that are spread out around the arcade, ranging from movie posters to life-size sculptures of superheroes.
The arcade and museum are the culmination of years of pop culture collecting by the Carlson family — first by Fred Carlson and then by his son and daughter-in-law, Jordan and Whitney Carlson. Fred Carlson started the collection, and then his son and daughter-in-law continued it.