The Daily Ping

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August 17th, 2001

Fascination

I haven’t been able to spend any of my summer days at the Wildwood shore in the last several years, and I got to thinking today about how much I miss my days there. One of the fondest memories comes from trips to the boardwalk with my grandmother, where we’d play a casino-type game called Fascination alongside many blue-haired women in the hope of winning points towards prizes.

The game was pretty basic: you sat at the end of a table and rolled a racquetball-type ball over a small bump. The ball would bounce around a bit over top of 24 holes. When the ball dropped into a hole, the corresponding light on the wall at the end of the table would light. The wall was a 5×5 grid, with the center light always lit as a freebee. The ball would then return and you’d continue rolling. In a normal game, the goal was connecting five lights vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The first person in the casino to do so would be the winner and get points towards a prize. There were bonus points for certain rows or columns based on difficulty. There were some variations of the game, one being “Cover-all,” where the winner was the first to light up each spot on the board.

I had a major urge to play this game today while at work. Does anyone remember this particular boardwalk favorite? -ram

Posted in Childhood Memories

esther September 6, 2006, 9:13 am

They have Fascination at Seaside, OR. Open all summer. Open weekends in the winter. This game is addicting. We love it…and we are a young couple

Zooch September 13, 2006, 12:18 am

Hampton Beach, NH upstairs in the Casino. Game is called Roll-A-Bingo there.

Dominick November 5, 2006, 12:14 am

What do you win Money?? Fascination rocks Best one in the world is in Wildwood, NJ Olympic Casino

steve November 16, 2006, 6:18 pm

“Mr.Fascination,” the feature-length documentary about Randy Senna and his 2006 season on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ, will be coming out in 2007!!! This movie is destined to be a classic.

Stay Tuned!!!

For more info visit http://www.gopicturesnyc.com

ted kraus November 30, 2006, 6:45 pm

Hi
I owned the Fascination in Long Beach LI from 1965-1970
Anyone “outhere” that use to work there, please send me an e-mail
ted

Dave Walls November 30, 2006, 9:35 pm

I’m curious as to what happened with the “legal action” in 2003. Did anything ever come of that?

(At least I didn’t say I was “fascinated” with the legal action…wait….doh!)

randy senna December 3, 2006, 12:04 am

what happened with the “legal action” in 2003….? Sad to say, it is still in the courts as of December 2006. I am surprised that this sight is again accepting postings… hopefully certain people will be more responsible with their actions; although I already see one on the edge… Ryan, please keep track of postings, and verify those doing the posting on your sight…

charlie Malings December 29, 2006, 3:51 am

Add me to the Fascination Fanatics, as a teenager in Rockaway in the 60’s, I worked at Lenny’s Fascination on B35th St Boardwalk. Many wild and crazy nights with Mad Mel and his methshakes just rapping away while we played coverall into the wee hours of the morning..I want a couple of tables in my house!!

butter February 8, 2007, 8:34 pm

good times summer of 89

Jim March 3, 2007, 7:15 pm

Randy of “Flippers Fascination” and I share the same interest in pinball and arcade games and that is how we first met a few years back. He has always treated my family and I as VIPs whenever we come down to play. He makes the game interesting with his antics. It is in my opinion one of the best deals on the Wildwood boardwalk. Randy works hard at making this simple game exciting. I will be there this summer trying to get the “red line rolling” Can’t wait to see the movie starring the Master of Ceromonies, Randy Senna!

JOHN May 12, 2007, 2:48 pm

I lived in Rockawat Beach and went to ST. Camillus Catholic school on Beach 100th Street in the 1970’s and we used to go across the street to “Pinky’s Fascination”.We would spend hours there, i remeber there was also a light that ran around the top of all the tables very quickly and if happened to land on yours when you won (and it never did) the you hit the jackpot, which I dont remember what that would have been.Of coures Playland was just across the street asw ell, and we would hit that when we had money. Good memories.

Mr. Fascination (Randy Senna) May 30, 2007, 2:18 am

John remembers well !

The running light was called the “travelight”, as it would travel from table top, to table top. Pinky’s used a fast moving travelight that would run across the tables, and then not appear for a long time; this was why it was so hard to actually win with the travelight.

Mathematically, if the travelight was always on one table or another, without disappearing, the odds would calculate as 1 in however many tables were within the system, (usually 40 or 50).

Some Fascinations would offer a large or “jackpot” prize for winning a certain line with the travelight. The operators would select a hard line for this bonus award, which would make the odds of achieving that line with the travelight very difficult.

In theory, if there are 12 ways to win, and all lines win the same amount of times in average, then the odds of actually winning the big prize offering would be 12 times the number of tables in the Fascination. Based on 50 tables, 50 times 12 would be 600, making the odds of hitting the jackpot 600 to one.

If the average game runs one minute, and there are 60 games an hour, then the actual odds would calculate of winning the special line with the travelight, one time in TEN hours.

Adding in the factor that the selected line for the travelight special, does NOT win as often percentage wise as the regular lines; days could pass without the winner actually winning with the travelight bonus.

That is why John does not recall anyone ever winning the “jackpot”!

Pinky’s also operated a Fascination on Broadway in New York City; all are long ago memories now.

Today, when most operators run travelight specials, they try to make the award modest and achievable. At Flipper’s Fascination in Wildwood, we have engineered FIVE travelights on the game system. When we run travelight bonuses, there are actually FIVE running lights, (each a different color), and on each table. By having FIVE travelights, the odds of winning with a travelight becomes mathematically achievable within a short period of time.

As the games designer and operator, I favor the use of bonus features with an easy hit frequency. Players enjoy hitting the bonuses, and intelligent people today are not easily fooled by large bonus which are extremely hard to win.

Fascination is a fun game to play, and should not be played for the greed of winning a “jackpot” prize which will disappoint the average player who will never hit the travelight like John.

It is very pleasing to hear that John still remembers the Fascination game so vividly, and yes, even the elusive travelight jackpot !!

I hope you get the chance to relive some of your memories by visiting Flipper’s Fascination in Wildwood, New Jersey; it is not that big of a drive from New York John!

Check out the national magazine, American Heritage, May 2007. It is published by the Forbes group. and should be available at newsstands.

The online link does not have the photos, but the text is clear: http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/2007/2/2007_2_52.shtml

Mr. Fascination
Randy Senna

Ed September 16, 2007, 5:41 pm

We used to go to Olympic Casino’s Fascination. Our entire family of seven loves the game. This year we could not take the rude comments of the man running the show and started going to Flippers. We usually spent upwards of $100 a night at the fascination and casino between the seven of us. Randy at flippers is much friendlier and much more fun to play.

We play for love of the game not the prizes. We come down every weekend, and spend most of the summer here in Wildwood. The last time I walked into Olympic I asked for tokens and was greeted with a smart ass remark about the fact that they would be closing.I guess they don’t want our money and that’s fine.

If you have never played fascination, it’s a lot of fun. If you want to listen to complaints and whining go to olympic. If you want to just sit down and have a goofy fun time, visit flippers. Try them both and decide for yourself.

I’m thinking about building a table of my own just to have some fun at home during the winter months.

Howard H May 6, 2008, 2:41 am

I was born and raised in Coney Island and lived in Coney Island Houses and now living in Florida, every day I can remember going to Eddie’s Fascination everyday with my parents it was like a second home to me. I remember when it was 5 cents a game then went to 10 cents a game, I don’t know what ever happened to all the pit girls or guys that walked from table to table to that collected the money for each game. The owner was Pete r Agripides he also bought across the street Williams cotton candy shop and Pete’s food stand right next door. He is still alive and is working both businesses. This has brought back memories and if anyone knows where there is a Fascination please let me know so I can go visit

Linda May 11, 2008, 1:42 am

Memorial day is almost here. Just can’t wait to get down to see Randy and play the games. My grandson loves playing also. He loves trying for the bloue line to see the bubbles. Flipper is the best.

Sal June 12, 2008, 4:02 am

What ever happened to the Mr. Fascination documentary?

Also – Randy: I am eagerly waiting to play that massive collection of pinballs you have. One summer in Wildwood you allowed access for a daily fee. That was totally amazing!

Graeme McRae January 2, 2009, 8:13 am

I worked for Marty Shapiro in the summer of 1975, the year Jaws came out. I was one of the boys who worked at the Fascination at 2406 Boardwalk in North Wildwood. His partner had another Fascination in Wildwood, about half a mile away. He had an old beat up car that barely moved, and we used it to drive to the supermarket which was a mile or two from the beach. One day I left the window open, causing the entire car to fill up with water from one of the frequent New Jersey thunderstorms. Marty was not pleased. I wonder how he’s doing?

Howard H January 27, 2009, 3:03 pm

Does anyone know if there are any Fascinations that are still open, and where is it located.

Thanks

Kathleen July 27, 2009, 8:52 am

Yes both Wildwood locations are open. Love both palors for different reasons.

Olympic Casino Fascination at 2406 Boardwalk in North Wildwood

Flipper’s Fascination
Boardwalk at Pacific Ave.
Wildwood, New Jersey 08260

Philip August 15, 2009, 11:54 pm

Indiana Beach has an operating parlor of about 40 tables. They are the original wooden ones that have been there for MANY years. My wife’s grandmother used to go there when she was a kid and play. To this day, our ENTIRE family of about 40 still go up and stay for a week. Fascination is a big part of the trip. I’m sad to say that it is $0.50 a game and the prizes are super cheesy, but that adds to the fun, I guess. If you “Wikipedia” fascination, you’ll see Indiana Beach’s parlor along with our favorite Korean that runs the tables. To quote her, at the end of each game we hear, “We have a rucky winna on table 23…give that rucky winner 1 coupon, and if evrybody ready, we have anudder game”. I love her to death! LONG LIVE FASCINATION!

Jeff January 2, 2010, 12:39 am

Randy, I used to love playing Fascination at Pinky’s place in Times Square back in the 70’s. I think that they closed in 1981 or thereabouts.

One thing about your calculations. If there are 50 tables, each with the same chances of winning, then the odds are 50-1 and not 600-1.

In your example, each table has 12 ways to win. So there are a total of 12 ways to win per table x 50 tables = 600 chances. If you are sitting at any table, you have 12 out of those 600 chances to win, or 600/12 = 50. Each table has a 1 in 50 chance to win.

You bring back wonderful memories of some of the better things about Times Square back in the day. I miss Fascination in Times Square. Maybe I will make it to Wildwood now that you mentioned it and have a ball.

Thanks.

Mary August 5, 2010, 10:56 pm

We just came from Seaside, OR and played a lot at the 40 table parlor there. I can’t believe there are so few of these places left….it is addicting!! The parlor was almost always full and still a great deal at 25 cents a game. They also play “Blackout” with two balls at 75 cents a game. You do win coupons to cash in for prizes, but who really cares about the prizes, just playing the game is fun. We’re both fortysomething and found ourselves coming back to play again and again.

Randy Senna December 1, 2010, 9:35 pm

Hey Fascination lovers…

Just released is the book on Fascination, titled;
“Fascination”
The lifetime Boardwalk Adventure

Ask for it at vook stores. or try Amazon.com

Here is Amazon’s link to the book !
http://www.amazon.com/s/qid=1290003480/ref=sr_nr_seeall_1?ie=UTF8&keywords=boardwalk%20randy%20senna&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aboardwalk%20randy%20senna%2Ci%3Astripbooks

Dominic January 6, 2011, 10:27 pm

Olympic Fascination played on real wood tables the only fascination parlor stil in business in wildwood.

Ryan January 7, 2011, 11:13 am

Um… I’d suspect that Randy would disagree with that statement.

Ryan January 7, 2011, 11:15 am

(Also, I hope we don’t have to re-enact “Dumb Ass Mode.” Let’s keep the personal attacks off of the site.)

randy aka Mr. Fascination July 28, 2011, 12:00 am

Hi gang,

Did you see me on the Hoarders Televison Show???

If you missed it, it will air again ! I was told this Saturday, July 30, at 9 pm… A & E check your listings !!!

I am also told that the Feature Documentry… Mr. Fascination and the Wonderful World of Randy, will be released in the coming months…

See the trailer on line….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6a9GsypJeE

I miss Flipper’s Fascination…. It will return !!

Ryan July 28, 2011, 2:04 am

Sure did, Randy! I’m a regular viewer of the show. I sat down to watch this week and said, “Hey, wait… I know that guy!”

Jack February 25, 2013, 6:15 pm

I still Enjoy Fascination …mostly for teh great people Ive met along the way. Ive always found Randy to be a bit too much carnival barker for my taste but I admire his committment! Guys like him keep memories alive single handedly! Last I heard Dominic (previous poster and caller at 2400 boardwalk fascination) was very ill. Hope he recovers as he is a nice guy!! I know Marty Shapiro from Gateway 2600 and he flat out creeps me out. HE was involved with 2400 Boardwalk before operating the gateway 2600 which I dont really like at all. I miss Walter at Olympic fascination (and his wife) who were great folks! Believe they still own the building. Love the frog bog they also operate.

Randy May 2, 2013, 10:34 am

Hi folks,

Well, as some of you might know, last summer I added some Fascination at the Hoarder’s Retro Arcade at the Boardwalk Mall.

I used the Fascination tables I had in storage that were last used at Hershey Park nearly 30 years ago.

I updated them to do a few neat tricks of course.

Flipper’s Fascination and the Flipper’s Fascination tables are still hiding at the original location behind the wall at the store there now.

It is still something that will reappear in the future; only circumstances will decide.

Meanwhile, I was selected to be on another Reality TV show just this past March.

American Pickers wanted to have their Hosts, Mike and Frank, come down and explore Randyland and the Retro Arcade.

I had much reservation about doing the show, because I really can’t see Mike and Frank from American Pickers actually paying enough money to buy any of the treasures I am entrusted with.

After all, their goal is to try to get people to sell things for less then their value so that they can turn around and resell them making profit.

To me, the entire premise is Mike and Frank searching for suckers, more so then searching for history.

Therefore, I couldn’t see myself actually selling them anything, but I felt in doing the show it would allow more people to see some of the treasures that I have saved from Amusement Park history over my lifetime.

As the years pass, I see the need to get everything in the massive collection set up in some kind of foundation so they can live on for generations long after I am not around anymore.

But it will require a huge building in excess of 100,000 Square Feet to do this… and it should be part of some large “corporate” resort, so that it can be an attraction drawing visitors to the Resort, and subsidized by the resort under an entertainment/attraction budget.

Disney would be perfect, however, who knows?

However, the American Pickers show had several issues in their Appearance Release Contract that I simply could not agree too.

This went back and forth with their Producers and the Production Company for a while, and it all came down to 1 word in the contact that they could not remove without Network approval….

The word? “Incidentally”

They had a clause preventing anyone from ever being allowed to talk about the experience of dealing with American Pickers on the Show, and I could never agree to surrender my liberties of freedom of speech.

I agreed to not speak about it until the show airs, so as not to leak out secrets or surprise, just as I agreed to on Hoarders, but they wanted it forever.

Finally, the night before the 8 am shoot, they had their RV bus, with their film crew and entourage, outside of Wildwood ready to ride in the next morning, and I was still on the phone with the Producers and their Lawyer…

They agreed to allow me the right to talk after the show aired, however, only “incidentally”. so if someone asked me if I did the show, I could say yes….

That is all; no detail.

They said that it would take 2 weeks to even hear from the network to remove the word “incidentally”, so the end result was, that I had to refuse to do the show.

Not exactly as it appears on TV with Mike and Frank just driving around and knocking on doors now is it?

This went on for more then a month, with advance visits from the Location Scout and their Appraiser…

And lots of emails, and phone calls….

And contracts…..

Ah, the reality of Reality TV.

Always remember, TV can never really be complete reality unless it is unedited raw footage of something happening.

This whole thing ended up in my witting another great book !

It is called, “So You Want to be on Reality TV ?”, and it tells the whole story !

And since I was told that I was the ONLY one who refused to sign the contract in five seasons of shows, it would appear that I was the only one who could tell this story, because I did not sign away my rights to talk about it !!!

And I included ALL their emails, contracts, revised contracts, and conversations in the book !!!!

If you want to experience what it is like to be selected to be on Reality TV; get the book !

It is a big, 8 x 10 size, 300 plus pager, and Amazon has it.

Here is a link:
http://www.amazon.com/So-You-Want-Reality-TV/dp/1484029941/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365911929&sr=1-3&keywords=randy+senna

This summer, when you stop in to play Fascination at the Retro arcade at the Boardwalk Mall, I should have copies available, but I do not have any yet.

Hope to see you there !

Randy Senna aka Mr. Fascination

Randy Senna September 22, 2014, 10:48 pm

Yesterday, September 20, 2014, was one of the rarest days in the history of my being in the amusement business….
My Retro Arcade and Fascination operations were open almost all day and night, and I was no where to be found.
In all my near 40 years of Boardwalk operations, I have always been at my operation from opening until closing, each and everyday we were ever open.
The only exceptions to this have been the times that I was with my mother or father during their last years requiring hospital attention.
Yesterday was another sad day of loss for me.
I opened my Retro Arcade and Fascination at 10 am, and them immediately ran to spend the entire day witnessing the end of Olympic Fascination and Fun Center.
Those who have played at Flipper’s Fascination over the many years of operation, might have known of certain issues where I, as the operator of Flipper’s Fascination, was less then a welcome addition to the Wildwood Boardwalk as viewed through the eyes of my friends at Olympic Fascination, but I want everyone to know that at no time were the owners of Olympic Fascination ever considered anything but a friend in my eyes.
These were, and still are, people who I looked up to from the time that I was a child playing Fascination in their store, as I was dreaming of one day owning my own Fascination operation.
And it was only because of my great skills as a Fascination operator, that I was perceived as a threat threw the eyes of Olympic Fascination, and as such, a very un-welcome person as an individual, and as a place to play Fascination.
When I was forced to close Flipper’s Fascination when my dad became ill, there were persons working at Olympic Fascination who seemed to celebrate in victory, and I heard the tales of announcements which were made proclaiming that Olympic Fascination was now the ONLY Fascination on the Wildwood Boardwalk, and the Only Fascination in the State of New Jersey….
However, after two years where Flipper’s Fascination went into hibernation, I added Lucky’s Fascination at my Retro Arcade, and once again Olympic Fascination was not alone in the World of Fascination on the Boardwalk in Wildwood.
Only three short years later, Olympic Fascination and Fun Center closed it’s doors for the final time.
There was a big wall to wall, everything must be sold auction which took place yesterday, and this is why I could not be found at my Retro Arcade, as I had to attend.
Lucky’s Fascination at my Retro Arcade was closed out of respect in memorial, during this period as the all day and night auction took place.
In my usual tradition and quest of preservation, I tried to purchase some items at the auction, to be someday displayed as tribute to Olympic, in my Amusements Museum.
A tribute not only to the place which created memories for countless people over generations of tradition from 1968 until 2014, but a tribute to the owners and operators who spent their lives in such pursuit.
In highlight of the few things I was able to save for future museum operation, are the Grey Hound Race Game, which in itself, was the very start of the owners of Olympic, as Walter’s, (the owner), father had invented the Grey Hound Race Game, and had manufactured them for sales to Amusement Parks across the country.
This particular Grey Hound Race Game, was in operation just north of Olympic Fascination for many years, and was the last one actually manufactured, as told to me by Walter himself.
A few roll-down poker machines, video poker machines, and some signs, were preserved as well as many other little treasures along the way…
And a table of 4, from the Olympic Fascination game itself !
The rest of the Fascination Game was auctioned off, as Walter, and Marty, (the original owners), and Steve and Jarred, (the current owners), watched.
There were at least two dozen others plus myself there for this, the finally climax of the 13 hour day of auctioning, and as the bidding started, I watch Walter as if he were the only one in the room standing.
Walter made no bid to purchase the Fascination Tables, as the opening bid was announced.
I crossed the room and spoke directly to Walter, and I said, “are you going to let this get sold?”
Walter indicated that he was indeed going to allow this to happen, stating that he could always build a new one, and I quickly encouraged Walter to bid, as it is only a matter of money, and he should not lets this happen.
Finally Walter said he would give it one shot, and he sparked up to make a bid !
He was out bid, and then was given quite a while to bid again….
The crowd watch in silence.
Walter did not bid again, and Olympic Fascination came to an end with the final words from the auctioneer, “sold”.
Marty went to speak to the buyer, and to find out where he was from….
Ocean City Maryland Marty later told Walter and his wife, as I stood there with them just outside the Fascination doors.
With tears in my eyes because of the end of the era, I looked into Walter’s eyes and said, I am more upset about this then you, and Walter replied, no, he is very upset only he won’t show it…. and Walter walked away with his wife.
Walter did purchase the High Striker and Frog Bog at the front of the complex, and I assume that as the owner of the real estate, that he will operate at least these two games next season.
After all of this drama, and 13 plus hours of grueling havoc of the auction process, I returned to my Retro Arcade to find people waiting for my return so they could play Fascination.
I turn the Fascination machines on, and we began to ring the bells.
The balls started rolling, and I ran around as the only one working the game until nearly 1:30 am.
It was very gratifying to see the people so happy playing the Fascination Game again, after witnessing such a farewell at Olympic.
However, unlike when I was forced to close Flipper’s Fascination a few years prior, I had no pleasure knowing that people were rolling the balls and lighting the lights, and I was ringing the bell at the last remaining fascination Game on the Wildwood Boardwalk, and in the entire State of New Jersey.
Time is not our friend; we must preserve these things for future generations, or there will be none left at all.
This has been my quest with the preservation efforts of creating the Amusements Museum.
A tribute to not only the wonderful places which once were, but to the wonderful people who owned and operated them, spending their entire life in so doing.

Randy Senna April 9, 2015, 10:43 am

For anyone who used to play at Olympic Fascination Casino, on the Boardwalk in North Wildwood, and still has Fascination Game Tokens, ( the ones which were purchased to play the Fascination Game ), I am honoring them at my Fascination at the Retro Arcade in the Boardwalk Mall; 3800 Boardwalk, Wildwood.

The Mall is not open until May, however, Fascination, and the Retro Arcade, are open each weekend from Palm Sunday until November… use the Ocean Ave street entrance not the Boardwalk when the Mall itself is closed.

Prize redemption coupons for Olympic Fascination and Casino were all handled through the Arcade Point Redemption System, and I am told that those who have outstanding Prize Redemption Points can have them honored by bring them to the Arcade in Avalon, NJ, which is owned by one of the former owners of the now closed Olympic Fun Center.

The owner is Jared, and he and is wife are very nice people.

Even though they lost so much at Olympic, and were forced to close their business, they still want to do what they can for those with Prize Redemption Points.

They do not operate a Fascination anymore, which is why I am honoring all Fascination Game Play tokens in my location.

For those who love to play the Fascination Game, I hope to serve you and provide a fun time playing Fascination where the game still lives on.

Personally, I have ben a Fascination Player for over 40 years, and I played at Olympic as a child.

I loved the Fascination Game so much that in high school I had 4 Fascination tables at home which I would play with my friends.

I operated my own Fascination Game on the Boardwalk from age 18 until my present age of 54.

As many of the great Fascination Games closed down over the years, I made extreme efforts to purchase and preserve the Fascination Tables, and today I have 8 complete Fascination Game systems in my preserved collection.

I was able to obtain the Fascination Tables and Game Systems from Olympic when they closed down in September, and I have them safely stored away for some future use yet to be seen.

Fascination is not really gone my friends…. it still lives on, and will be around somewhere for many years to come.

For now, we say goodbye to Olympic Fascination on 24 th Street in North Wildwood, and we shall all meet at Lucky’s Fascination just 14 blocks down the Boardwalk at the Boardwalk Mall in the Retro Arcade where you will find all kinds of pinball ball machines and old-time arcade and classic video games from decades gone by.

Corner of Garfield Ave… 3800 Boardwalk and also 3800 Ocean Ave with the direct street entrance right into Fascination.

Can you hear the balls rolling now??

See you their….

Randy

Ryan July 30, 2015, 2:34 pm

Thank you, Randy, for continuing to come back here to comment.

I hope to bump into you later this summer when I’ll be down in Wildwood for a day or two.

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