PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the second consecutive year, Hillsboro’s Next Level Pinball Museum has beat out arcades in cities like Chicago, Houston and Sao Paulo for being the best place in the world to play pinball.
The Annual TWIPY Awards, organized by pinball news site This Week in Pinball, gives pinball enthusiasts a chance to celebrate the top pinball streamers, animations, artwork and more each year.
The latest installment of the people’s-choice-style awards show took place on Saturday, March 25. That’s when Next Level was crowned the winner of the “Favorite Pinball Location” award.
Pinball Palace in Brunswick, Ga., Old School Pinball Experience in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Logan Arcade in Chicago and District 82 in De Pere, Wis., rounded out the top five finalists.
According the TWIPYs results, Next Level earned 1,267 first-choice votes for the award, and 27% of the overall points. When the Hillsboro arcade won the award last year, that number was just 20%.
Even though this is Next Level’s second year as the reigning champs, Marketing Director Connor Stowe says the win is equally as exciting.
“At the end of the day, we’re a mom-and-pop shop,” Stowe said. “There’s only 12 of us that work here, including the owners… It’s the kind of place where we’re all so passionate about it. We all believe so much in how it brings people together. We just think toys and collectibles are a really cool way to communicate with people.”
According to the Pinball Map, the Portland area has about 266 locations with nearly 1000 pinball machines — and Stowe says this number tops every other city in the world.
And even though it’s outside of Portland, Next Level Pinball Museum is putting Hillsboro on the map not just for gamers, but for all pop culture fanatics. Stowe says the 20,0000-square-foot facility is one of the largest anywhere, with over 200 pinball machines and a large array of toys, collectibles, signed movie paraphernalia and more.
“It’s one of those things that once you’re in the community, you don’t realize it’s this huge community until you’re in it,” he said. “[People are] flying in from New York, Texas, Florida, just to come to Next Level for their vacation.”
Stowe added that the arcade plans to expand by 6000 square feet by 2024. If Next Level goes for a three-peat and wins the Favorite Pinball Location award once again next year, this expansion could be all the more reason for people to travel to one of the world’s best pinball spots.
Next Level Pinball Museum is typically closed from Monday to Wednesday, but has special hours for spring break. Find more information here.
The arcade is located at 1458 NE 25th Ave., in Hillsboro.