By Louis Wyatt
HUNTERTOWN — One of the Fort Wayne area’s newest businesses is already proving to be equally popular among kids and nostalgic adults alike. Beyond that, it’s opened the door to a whole new world of competition for enthusiasts statewide.
Wizard’s World is the newest addition to the presently booming Lima Plank Mercantile in Huntertown, offering around 30 pinball machines — some brand new and some older than 40 — to scratch your inner child’s arcade itch.
Mike Burgess owns the new Huntertown arcade, and Matt Ogden of Kendallville’s Ogdog Pinball Pleasures serves as technical director.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid,” Burgess said, fondly recalling the first time he played pinball at at a Laundromat when he was 5 or 6 years old.
Burgess bought some machines in the 90s, and collecting has been his pleasure ever since. The arcade was his way of bringing his collection to the public.
The venture isn’t all about leisure, though, as Wizard’s World plays host to International Flipper Pinball Association knockout tournaments the third Monday of each month.
Monday, Dec. 18 was the arcade’s inaugural tournament, with competitors being paired up with random players and continuing rounds until one player without three losses was left.
Burgess said while players of all skill levels were represented, the goal for some was to qualify for the Indiana State Pinball Championship. Monday’s tournament and another held in Lafayette on Tuesday were the last chances to qualify before the end of the year, so it came as no surprise that the Wizard’s World tourney attracted some illustrious competition — including current state champion Tommy Skinner and Matt Peace, whom Burgess is convinced will be the next champion.
“He’s given me the champion’s curse,” Peace said jokingly.
Also in attendance Monday was Dan St. John, owner of Lafayette’s Main Street Amusements and host of Tuesday’s tournament. Burgess competed there as well.
Burgess’s next goal is to work on boosting his state rank. At the start of the Dec. 18 inaugural tourney, he ranked 26 in Indiana.
In the meantime, he will continue to host tournaments at the new Huntertown arcade.
The arcade’s next tournament will be Jan. 15 at 8 p.m.
There is a $5 entry fee to play in tournaments, and the money collected is paid out to the top four finishers. Coin drop is still required on all games.
Wizard’s World can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FWAPinball. The business is located at 14613 Lima Road.