When Was The Last Time You Saw One of These in Grand Junction Colorado?
How many of these have you found in your couch or lying around the house? If you lived in Grand Junction, Colorado in the 1980s, you probably had dozens of these hiding all over the place.
These "tokens" used to be worth their weight in gold. All you needed was a handful of these, and you were set. What were they for? Do you recognize it?
Grand Junction, Colorado's Place for the 80s and 90s Fun
Yep, that's an authentic Aladdin's Castle token. They were the rough equivalent of .25 cents. Then again, if my memory is at all accurate, you used to get five for a dollar. Everyone, as in everyone in Grand Junction used to have these in their pockets, on their dresser, or in the car ashtray. They were everywhere.
My dad passed away two years ago at the age of 75. While going through some of his things, I found his 25-Year Pin from the railroad and his dad's watch and pocket knife.. Right next to those items I found this. What was my dad doing with an old Aladdin's Castle token? After all the years he spent yelling at me, telling me to get my head out of my a** and stop wasting money at the arcade, I sincerely hope he wasn't slinking around the place, too
Not Just a Grand Junction Colorado Phenomenon
Are you familiar with Aladdin's Castle? It wasn't just a local thing. According to thefullwiki.org:
The shopping-mall arcade chain that became Aladdin’s Castle began as American Amusements, Incorporated, in the early 1970s. It was purchased and renamed Aladdin’s Castle by Bally Manufacturing Corporation in 1974. Over the next several years, the number of store locations grew from 20 in 1974, to 221 in 1980, to 360 when the chain was spun off in 1989.
Video Games of the 1980s
In the early 1980's you pretty much had four ways to go about playing a video game. You could:
- Play "Pong" on your living room TV
- If you were one of the fortunate few, you had your very own Atari
- Play "Yars' Revenge" on the demo machine at the LaBelle's store west of the mall until such time as the clerks got sick of looking at you and threw you out
- Visit Aladdin's Castle at Mesa Mall
In Grand Junction, you could find Aladdin's Castle in the "Cafe Court" portion of the Mesa Mall. When it first opened you would find games like Asteroids, Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, and various pinball machines. As time went by, and as video games became more elaborate, you'd find machines such as Star Wars and Dragon's Lair. Looking back, the average wait time to get to play Dragon's Lair was probably an hour or more.
How to 'Play the Game' In Grand Junction Colorado
Here's what we used to do: You go to a machine and exchange your quarters or dollars for these gold "Aladdin's Castle" tokens. If there's a machine you really like, Dargon's Lair, for example, you place your tokens in a row at the top of the machine. Showing the tokens was something of a pitiful primal "chest-thumping" display warning everyone the machine was yours until such time as you run out of tokens.
Check out that hairdo at 3:56. Right on!
Eventually, I got old, discovered girls, or more likely, got a job and discovered the value of a dollar, and stopped going to Aladdin's Castle. Blowing through quarters was easy back when it was mom and dad's money. When I reached the point where I had to start earning it for myself.... forget it. That stuff (money) is too hard to come by.
Looking back to the mid-1980s, a time when Mesa Mall was jumping, I would be willing to bet that square foot for square foot, Aladdin's Castle probably generated more revenue than any other business in the mall.
What Happened to Aladdin's Castle?
Okay, so what became of Aladdin's Castle? Thefullwiki.org states:
Namco Limited purchased Aladdin's Castle, Inc, in 1993, merging it with Namco Operations to create Namco Cybertainment (NCI), becoming the largest arcade operator in the world.
The Aladdin's Castle at Mesa Mall eventually packed up and moved on down the road. I don't get to the mall often, but I think nowadays the old Aladdin's Castle location is a store that sells bras or something like that.
If you're old enough to remember Aladdin's Castle, please take a look around your home. I found this one in a fire-safe next to a handful of valuable keepsakes.