Crazy and Curious California Attractions

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Though it's said that Zoltar got his start with the Tom Hanks movie, BIG, Zoltar has been around longer than the 1980s movie. His name pops up in comic books quite often. Before there was Zoltar fortune teller machine, however, there was Zoltan. You had to pick up the receiver of an attached phone to listen to him give out advice.

Fortune teller machines have been in existence for a century or more--one of the oldest such machines (left photo above) was dusted off in a Montana restaurant.  GYPSY actually speaks your fortune from a hidden record player. When you drop a nickel in the slot, her eyes would flash, teeth would chatter and her voice eerily floated from a tube extending out of the eight-foot-tall box. David Copperfield offered $2 million for her, though the State of Montana Heritage Commission declined, saying she's too valuable--she may be the only remaining talking teller from 100 years ago.  Whether you buy into the fortune teller predictions or not, be sure to take a look at Zoltar the next time you're in his vicinity. He speaks every 30 seconds to a minute, inviting passers by to put some money in the slot and give him a try.  ]

Find a California Fortune Teller Machine:

Zoltar at the Bay Arcade - Balboa Island Fun Zone, Newport Beach, CA
Coin operated Zoltar speaks, moves, lips, hands and dispenses information and a card that ejects from a slot. Cost is $1 as of this publication.

Esmeralda in the Penny Arcade - Disneyland, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 48.676 W 117 55.144
Esmeralda greets you at the entrance of the Penny Arcade on Main Street.
 
Green Alien ~ Alien Beef Jerky - Baker, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 35 16.120 W 116 04.231
This Alien Fortune Teller is one of two such machines at the Alien Beef Jerky store in Baker.
 
Zoltar at Barstow Station
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 34 53.479 W 116 59.941
Consult with Zoltar in Barstow Station at 1611 E Main Street in Barstow, California.
 
Esmeralda - Knott's Berry Farm - Buena Park, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 50.749 W 118 00.008
Esmeralda is located inside the Casa Arcade in Knott's Berry Farm Amusement Park.
 
Zoltar - Buena Park, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 50.716 W 118 00.103
Zoltar, the Fortune Telling Gypsy, is located in front of the Toppers gift shop at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

Pappy - Buena Park, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 50.603 W 118 00.026
Pappy, the Old West Fortune Teller, is located in front of the Calico Ghost Town Toy Junction shop at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
 
Merlin ~ Crescent City, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
N 41 45.133 W 124 11.293
Merlin is located in the gift shop of Ocean World at 304 US Highway 101 South in Crescent City, California.

Zoltar ~ Eureka, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 40 48.262 W 124 10.008
Consult with Zoltar in front of Eureka Books at 426 2nd Street in Eureka, California.
 
Rock Star Fortune Teller ~ Monterey, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 36 36.983 W 121 54.008
This Rock Star Fortune Teller is located next to the Candyland exit into the inner hallway of the strip mall inside the old cannery building at 700 Cannery Row in Monterey, California.
 
The Old Pirate ~ Monterey, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 36 36.128 W 121 53.623
The Old Pirate will tell your fortune at the Candyland candy store in the Alvarado Mall in Monterey, California.
 
Zelda's Fortunes ~ San Jose, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 37 19.118 W 121 57.075
Zelda will tell your fortune at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.
 
Zoltar Speaks ~ Old Town San Diego
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
N 32 45.127 W 117 11.625
11S E 481850 N 3623823
Consult with Zoltar in front of San Diego's Best gift shop at 2415 San Diego Avenue in San Diego, California, California.
 
Gypsy Queen - San Franciso, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 37 48.550 W 122 24.980
 This fortune teller machine is one of many on display in the Musee Mecanique located at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.
 
Houdini - San Francisco, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
N 37 48.582 W 122 24.621
An animated character on Pier 39.

Zoltar - San Francisco, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 37 48.486 W 122 24.954
This Zoltar is in San Francisco.
 
Love Tester - San Jose Flea Market - San Jose, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 37 22.149 W 121 52.609
This love tester is in the San Jose Flea Market.

Wise Woman ~ Santa Cruz, California
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
  N 36 57.824 W 122 01.194
 This Coin-operated Fortune Teller is located in the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Casino Arcade at 400 Beach Street in Santa Cruz, California.

Estrella's Prophecies - Looff Hippodrome - Santa Monica, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 34 00.608 W 118 29.750
This vintage coin-operated fortune telling machine is located inside the historic Looff Hippodrome and the famous Santa Monica Pier.
 
Zoltar - South Lake Tahoe, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 38 57.486 W 119 56.547
11S E 245034 N 4316245
A Zoltar machine in South Lake Tahoe.
 
Merlin - Venice Beach, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 59.263 W 118 28.459
Merlin is hanging out with Zoltar and the Big Kahuna on the Venice Beach boardwalk.
 
Big Kahuna - Venice Beach, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
 N 33 59.262 W 118 28.458
The Big Kahuna will read your fortune at the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

 Zoltar - Venice Beach, CA
in Coin-Operated Fortune Telling Machines
N 33 59.262 W 118 28.458
 The Mighty Zoltar makes an appearance on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Right next to the big shark at Maui and sons. There are two other fortune tellers nearby.
 

Common methods used for fortune telling in Europe and the Americas include astromancy, horary astrology, pendulum reading, spirit board reading, tasseography (reading tea leaves in a cup), cartomancy (fortune telling with cards), tarot reading, crystallomancy (reading of a crystal sphere), and chiromancy (palmistry, reading of the palms). The last three have traditional associations in the popular mind with the Roma and Sinti people (often called "gypsies").

Another form of fortune-telling, sometimes called "reading" or "spiritual consultation", does not rely on specific devices or methods, but rather the practitioner gives the client advice and predictions which are said to have come from spirits or in visions. Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting information about a person's life. The scope of fortune-telling is in principle identical with the practice of divination. The difference is that divination is the term used for predictions considered part of a religious ritual, invoking deities or spirits, while the term fortune-telling implies a less serious or formal setting, even one of popular culture, where belief in occult workings behind the prediction is less prominent than the concept of suggestion, spiritual or practical advisory or affirmation.

Historically, fortune-telling grows out of folkloristic reception of Renaissance magic, specifically associated with Gypsies.

There is opposition against fortune-telling in Christianity and Judaism based on biblical prohibitions against divination. This sometimes causes discord in the Jewish community due to their views on mysticism.
 
Zoltan Fortune Teller Arcade Machine
Built By: They were a project done by Robert B. Bourque and Robert Cottle, a lifelong friend of Bourques. Mr. Cottle provided the deep voice you hear on the machines. Bob Cottle at one time played the part of Captain Bob on a Boston children's TV show.  Year Built: 1967 to the early 1970's, in Massachusetts. Number Made: Approximately 50-60 were made. Designer: Robert B. Bourque and Robert Cottle
Country of Construction: USA. Special Features include a talking machine that required you to listen to your fortune by way of a telephone receiver it does not give out fortune cards.  Bourque passed away on March 22, 2003 at age 82, and Captain Bob Cottle passed away on Sunday April 25, 1999 in the San Mateo County General Hospital in California following a stroke. He was 78.


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