Friends, a couple of weeks back, one of the friends of the Diary of An Arcade Employee Facebook page was kind enough to send me a link to this snapshot of life back in 1981 at the Omni International Complex in Atlanta, Georgia. The video which is a little over nine minutes of B-roll footage for a local news station gives a welcome look back at the complex, in addition to families enjoying an indoor skating rink as well as an arcade that appears to have been called Electronic America. Considering that I work at the Arkadia Retroarcade during the week and with the aforementioned podcast, it is the video games and pinball table footage that I enjoy the most. You can see everything from Cinematronic’s Star Castle, Midway Games’ Space Zap and Galaxian, to a few choice Atari games like Basketball, Asteroids, and even their enormous Hercules pinball table.
As I understand it, the Omni International Complex opened back in 1976, featuring the ice skating rink in addition to a smattering of restaurants and some shops as well as a high-end hotel for visitors to enjoy. Although perhaps the most impressive element when the Omni opened it’s doors to the public has to be that it was the home of an indoor theme park – The World of Sid and Marty Krofft!
The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was a short-lived dream from the two iconic television show creators, from reading about it online it seems that it remained in operation for less than a year. However it sounds like it was a magical park nonetheless with characters and settings inspired by H.R. Pufnstuff, Lidsville, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. And as you will hear from this interview with the Krofft brothers, it sort of sounds like the odds were stacked against them from the beginning, with technical issues as well as the location of the theme park.
Getting a chance to see the Omni International Complex in 1981 is definitely a treat, especially with the amount of classic titles in the footage focusing on the arcade. But the sad truth is the reason for the B-roll footage appears to be in conjunction with the horrifying Atlanta child murders at that time. Which I assume is why you see so many Police officers strolling the Omni International Complex, not to mention the folks in the arcade being questioned about having a valid ID.