It’s ‘Game on’ at Marvin’s

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published August 20, 2014

FARMINGTON HILLS — Upon entering Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, it’s hard to decide which machine to try first.

You could have Zelda the Mysterious Fortune Teller look into her crystal ball, take a spin on the merry-go-round that seats three, or drop a quarter into the slot for a song from Old King Cole.

On the morning of Aug. 7, students in the Warren Woods Public Schools School Aged Child Care Summer Camp did just that and more. Visiting the museum, which doubles as an arcade, is a highlight for the campers every summer. There’s fun, laughter and the chance to win prizes.

This summer marked 9-year-old Lily Fulton’s first time to Marvin’s.

“I thought it was cool, all the games that you could play,” said Fulton, who attends Salk Elementary School in Fraser Public Schools. Her favorite game — amid the scent of fresh popcorn — was the Coaster Rider X-press simulator that took customers on a roller coaster adventure. “I love roller coaster rides.”

Marvin’s owner Marvin Yagoda has collected unique arcade games and memorabilia for decades. Not content with enjoying the vintage machines on his own, Yagoda decided to share them, hence the creation of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. He said it’s a place where everyone from age 1 to 91 have can fun. Some of the arcade games are from present day, while others go back in time and have some spookiness to them.

According to, the museum is listed in the “World Almanac” as one of the 100 most unusual museums in the United States. Yagoda said the facility provides a nostalgic feel for the older customers and gives younger people the opportunity to enjoy a few rides. 

“It’s really a wonderful, wonderful place. I have a nice following,” he said. “I thank my customers for letting me provide over 6 1/2  million minutes and still counting of laughter and joy into this messed-up world of ours.”

There is something distinctive in every nook and cranny. Crankenstein is entertaining, the Three Trials of Terror are frightening and the Butch Wimp will “cure your fear of ssssspiders.” Thrill mongers, too, can “choo-choo” on the Sante Fe Railroad.

While funseekers play each and every game, a poster-size photo of King Kong hugging the Empire State Building watches all the action from up above. Every now and then, the well-known horn sound when someone loses on “The Price Is Right” sounded through the arcade.

Like Fulton, 6-year-old Cayden Jones’ favorite game was the roller coaster simulator. Ten-year-old Hudson Mizgalski couldn’t get enough of the Harpoon Lagoon where the object of the game was to outsmart the toy shark lurking. Mizgalski said a lot of the machines are “odd or weird.”

“A couple of them were too creepy for me,” 7-year-old Rocco Maniaci said. “I do like the photo booth, but I didn’t feel like doing photos today. I got a ton of tickets, and I bought all this stuff.”

The WWPS camp is open to students every summer and is primarily to help parents who work outside the home. Staff plans a number of activities and field trips all summer. Games, group activities, making artwork and celebrating various holidays is how campers and staff members spend each day. Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township, American Pie in Warren, Fort Fraser in Fraser, the Dumars Fieldhouse in Shelby Township, and the Wolcott Mill and Farm in Ray Township are among the field trips the students enjoyed.

Visit Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum at 31005 Orchard Lake Road. Once inside, just follow the neon signs, but watch out for the mannequins with the missing torsos and heads.