In 1968, Wonderland Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri, was taken to court by the United States of America. The case was brought by the Tax Division of the Department of Justice. These images formed part of the case.
Kansas City’s Wonderland rakes in as the coppers and servicemen have fun.
The 1,500 penny arcades in cities and towns all over the U.S. are enjoying a pleasant boom. It results mainly from the present of itinerant servicemen who have time to spend between trains or on short leaves. A good example of the trend is Wonderland arcade in Kansas City, where soldiers, sailors and marines make up 60% of the crowd. Main attraction of the arcade is that they go there to kill two or three hours for less than the price of a movie, and if they don’t like one divertissement, they can try another for a penny.
Entering Wonderland, the visitor encounters a confusion of sounds – juke boxes, shots from the rifle range, bells ringing on myriad machines. The whole atmosphere is on of carnival. Soldiers are inevitably drawn to the shooting galleries, where they try their skill endlessly until their girls drag them away to the fortune to the fortune-telling machines which have romantic implications.
Also popular are the penny peep shows which employ provocative facades (“Have a look in the Sultan’s Harem”) and turn out to be mild tableaux featuring wax figurines and a corny sort of humor. Wonderland stays fastidiously away from striptease sequences and girlie postcards found in other arcades. It continues on its highly successful way, however, by offering a wide range of attractions from punching bags to Kiss-O-Meter. Several of the machines are arcade antiques of early Coney Island Vintage. None is new for there will be no more penny-arcade novelties manufactured until the war is over.
– Life Magazine, 1944
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