Local pinball arcade expanding after six months

After opening the Wizard's World in December, local businessman Mike Burgess has announced plans to double the Huntertown pinball arcade's size. Huntertown. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)

Mike Burgess fulfilled a boyhood dream by opening Wizard’s World at 14613 Lima Rd., on Dec. 15, but even he was surprised by the business’s early success. Now Burgess is doubling the pinball arcade, moving into the space next door formerly held at the current site of Next Level Health and Fitness.

The current location holds 33 pinball machines and has hosted six local and regional tournaments. He’d like to include nearly 60 machines in time for a second section opening in May.

“Business has been four times what I expected,” Burgess said. “This has been pretty well received and will definitely pay for the expansion. I was looking for more space, but you know when you start you don’t want to overdo it. By the time we expand, that will be six months and a good start.”

The Huntertown arcade is open from 4:30-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 4:30-10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from 1-9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Plans are to expand hours once school is out for the summer.

The arcade is hosting its monthly knockout tournament on Monday which will include 20-to-35 players ranging in age from 11 to 70.

Burgess said the store has eight or nine of the current top 10 machines in national rankings. Larry Schmitt serves as the league and tournament director and Paul Meredith as general manager. Matt Ogden of Ogdog’s Pinball Pleasures in Kendallville serves as the technical director, making sure the machines are refurbished and working well.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Burgess said. “We could double the number of machines, but that might be a little too crowded. This will allow us to become the largest pinball arcade in the Midwest. I get many people who played pinball as a kid who bring their own kids in to introduce them to it. We love it.

“Once they find us, they keep coming back,” he said. “I get a tremendous amount of thank yous for doing this which probably means more than anything. I wanted to share pinball, and I’m pretty happy about the way things have gone. I basically just wanted to cover costs, but on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays it’s pretty packed.”