Wunderland Nickel Arcade and Cinema (Portland Metro)
Too hot, too cold, too wet outside? Then head for your local Wunderland Nickel Arcade and Cinemas, where the temperature and the prices are just right.
This post is specifically reviewing the Milwaukie location, but there are several other Wunderlands throughout the Portland Metro area.
Located just off Highway 99 in Milwaukie, Oregon, this old theater is easy to find, has ample free street parking and caters to families. Once a three-plex, the largest auditorium was converted several years ago to a surprisingly roomy nickel arcade that feels like a mini Las Vegas for kids. There is a clear division (and separate admission fees) between the arcade and the two remaining auditoriums.
If you’re interested in a movie, you’ll have eight or nine second-run features from which to choose, most of them family friendly. The theaters are older and on the small side, but comfortable, clean and a great deal. Certain special engagement movies may be priced at $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for kids 12 and under (prices are lower at other locations, with different features) with a $5.50 matinee.
A small snack bar offers the usual suspects (think popcorn and Milk Duds, not the individual pizzas and caramel lattes of today’s mutli-plex). Here, too, the prices are reasonable, but my family is not fond of the popcorn. “Too greasy” has been their chief complaint.
For a separate admission price, you can whittle away the hours in the adjacent Wunderland Arcade, with seventy games from which to choose and a big-screen TV showing sports for the adults—although you’ll have to stand to watch it. On our visit, most of the adults found the games impossible to resist, so lack of seating didn’t appear to be a problem. There is a small sitting/eating area just outside the game room, but you’ll have to yield to birthday parties.
Admission to the arcade is $3.25 for ages 12+; $2.75 for kids aged 5-11 and seniors. The under fives are admitted for free. Once you’re in the arcade, the games require from one to eight nickels (according to a reader, back in 2017, they switched to cards instead of nickels). There are a few redemption games offering tokens that allow you to choose from a variety of prizes at the front counter.
My family can effortlessly turn a trip to the Milwaukie Cinema into a full-day adventure by making side trips to the great play structures (great even for the tween/teen crowd) at Portland Waldorf School and visiting the Ledding Library, both of which are only blocks from the theater.
If you’re not familiar with the Ledding Library, it earns bragging rights to one of the best children’s sections in town and happily offers library cards to Multnomah County residents. Be sure to visit the nutria and waterfowl on the pond behind the library or to take in one of the library’s lively music or puppet show programs.
On a nice day, you can bring your own food to picnic or try out one of the family friendly restaurants in the area. Cha Cha Cha is just footsteps from the theater.
Milwaukie Cinema and Wunderland is located at 11011 SE Main St. in Milwaukie. Hours are noon to 11 PM Sunday—Thursday, noon to midnight on Friday and 11 AM to midnight on Saturday. Wunderland has a number of additional locations throughout the Portland Metro area: Gresham, SE Portland, Beaverton and Salem.
Wendy Warren lives in Portland with her adventure-loving family. She writes romance novels for Harlequin and Entangled Indulgence.
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