this is a great place if you like pinball! they have at least 30 machines, from old to new style, its a good place to take the kids on a rainy weekend, it has historical momentos on display, lots of things for kids to do, a free show, and very friendly staff to help you if you need it. i wish ther were more places like this around the areas of the eastbay!
I've been to Playland-Not-At-The-Beach as a visitor and a volunteer. It's a really fun, special hidden gym in the east bay.
My daughter had her birthday party at this venue. She and her classmates loved it. Not only was it fun for the entire class but also educational. The adults that attended the event were thrilled to see "Laughing Sally" and her sister. It brought back memories of how San Francisco used to be at Ocean Beach. The artifacts, pinballs, Dickens, San Francisco, Santa, etc villages were beautiful and amazing. The volunteer staff were hospitable and so were the Administrators. The place is quite a drive from where our circle of friends live but it's worth a drive to see it once just to know the history of Ocean Beach / Playland in San Francisco. Overall, Playland-Not-At-The-Beach exceeded my expectation.
As a vounteer, I have seen people enter the museum not expecting much and leaving hours later with huge smiles on their faces. I have watched guests rushing about the building on a treasure hunt and others spending a day playing the 25+ pinball machines. This place truly has something for everybody. The only unhappy people I have seen are those who didn't allow enough time to experience everything to their hearts desire.
I've visited 4 times, bringing family and friends with me each time. There is so much to see that it's easy to miss some of the fabulous areas. My mother just turned 88 and she declares Playland the best place she's ever visited. My children adore all the hand-on machines and get very competitive winning the giant panda bears. Magical Nathaniel has been performing there for 3 years, but they have other oustanding performers putting on shows every day the place is open. We look forward to rainy days so we have another excuse to visit Playland. They have a discount pass available, but they are so inexpensive that we would feel guilty trying to get a cheaper admission. Where else can I take my kids and mother for $10 for a full day's entertainment?
Educational and fun. Introduces people of all ages to special exhibits from an era where families enjoyed time together. Grandparents and parents bring their children or grandchildren to show them what they did for fun before X-Box etc. It is an amazing place all under one roof. For children a museum that teaches and is fun. I also learn from the visitors with their knowledge and experiences and I like the one-on-one contact with the visitors.
Although I had no idea how "Playland at the Beach" could translate to an indoor venue, just the name, "Playland-NOT-at-the-Beach, Museum of FUN" [Emphasis supplied], said it all. I was an East Coast person familiar with some amusement parks, but never the iconic Playland at the Beach. Through short films, authentic carnival games, and pinball machines spanning decades, as well as delightful miniature worlds presented with great attention to detail, I was taken back to a time I had only heard stories about. Any one of the gentlemen at Playland NATB can give you personal narratives of this bygone era, and will gladly offer as much information as you want to hear. Sharing the stories and the artifacts is what it's all about. When my son asked if he could volunteer, he was welcomed enthusiastically, and seems to learn something new about the business every time he volunteers. Giving young people this chance is fostering a real sense of responsibility, and frankly, I'm delighted that he takes pride in this endeavor which is a real change from the technological nature of our lives in this day and age.
I know it's cliche, but this really is a hidden gem. For little more than the price of a happy meal, I can have hours of fun there. In addition to an extensive pinball collection, there are also carnival arcade games, and museum displays of amusement and carnival history (including, of course, Playland by the Beach). The staff and volunteers are masters of old-fashioned fun! It's tight quarters inside, but they definitely make the most of every inch. But because of the layout and spacing, it doesn't really feel cramped or crowded...just fun! Upbeat music and live performers round things out. In addition to visits, they also offer parties. But not just children's parties during visiting hours. they also offer after-hours parties for children and adults. Having planned a party or two in my day, I think this is what really sets them apart from other venues...the versatility. I found this place through the Disney volunteer promo, and am so glad I did! Though I've not made any plan to use my Disney ticket, I have already planned two return visits here with friends/family and have set my sights on becoming a regular volunteer despite its distance from my house. There aren't enough places to have plain, old fun. So helping ensure this one continues is a priority.
I'm so pleased that Playland-Not-At-The-Beach is in my neighborhood. Reminders of 1960's visits to Playland-at-the-Beach, of course, which gave my sister and I great joy in the reminiscing, but also it was delightful seeing families of all ages there, together. My husband marvelled at the historic, detailed circus dioramas. The story-telling was engaging, we 3 had a delightful 3 hours there, and we're so glad these wonderful items have such a good home. You should go, too, and bring the whole family!
Playland-Not-At-The Beach is the perfect blend of old-fashioned fun (retro pinball machines, carnival games, magic shows), circus and carnival art and memorabilia which preserve a by-gone era and industry, and historical artifacts from a 100-year old San Francisco institution. The volunteers are so knowledgeable and friendly, and the space itself is cozy and welcoming. We had a private party there for about 40 and it was a memorable time. Full use of the kitchen made it very easy to provide food and drinks, the jukebox has great songs from different eras, and the movie theater provides a chance to see live footage of the original Playland, Sutro Baths and Fleishacher Pool. Many other surprises await you! I've been there many times and always feel I've recaptured a part of the past.