I Love Cereal: TAG's Maniac's Mansion
“Let’s go,” my lady said to me, “tomorrow.” I was taken aback by the immediacy of her words. I had just been tagged for the third time in a week by people wanting to introduce me to TAG’s Maniac’s Mansion in Wichita Falls, TX. A post was making the rounds on Facebook regarding the establishment due to the uniqueness of the business which was right up my alley. An arcade, with a cereal bar instead of alcohol, that serves a variety of limited edition and rare cereals.
Per my last post, as well as years of documented love of cereals, my friends knew that I would be ecstatic to head there and they were right. But my lady knew it to the point of needing to head out the next day. Say less. We made accommodations and headed out for a 4-hour drive. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
Maniac’s Mansion operates usually after 5 or 6 PM until 10 or 11. The particular day we headed out, we made it close to 8:30 and from the moment I opened the door, I knew this place was special. The pictures that I had seen hadn’t shown the extensive nature of the arcade itself, mostly just a focus on the cereal (which was my main reason for going) so I was extremely happy when I got there and saw what seemed like nonstop clusters of arcade games arranged like a mall in the 90s. Instantly, I felt like I was transported to my childhood and just smiled. A sign directed us towards the bar to get started where we met the architect of Maniac’s Mansion, Marcus McGee. I feel like you can tell the nature of a small business by how the owner reacts to their customers and the business itself and let me tell you, Marcus couldn’t have been nicer, more pleasant, or accommodating.
He asked if it was our first time there and excitedly explained how everything operated. The main option is a free play + cereal wristband where you can play all of the games available (all but one is set to Free Play) and one bowl of any cereal with multiple milk options. What’s so cool is that he’ll give you a ‘shot’ of whatever cereal you want to try (a sample in a small cup) before you commit. You can also just play games without the cereal, but where’s the fun in that? We got our wristbands, tickets for cereal later, and started to explore the grounds. We also let him know about our 4-hour trek to stop by, so he decided to keep the place open for an extra hour, making the trip even more worthwhile.
Now aside from being a cereal connoisseur, I’m also a longtime Black geek; so to see another Black geek run a business of this nature that’s so in line with myself is a treat. Marcus let me know that everything in the business is his own personal collection that got too big to store at home and eventually turned into Maniac’s Mansion. And regardless of race, if you’re a geek of any stripe, this place is a feast for the senses. There’s a display case with some of the most coveted characters and figures including the Ninja Turtles, Aggretsuko, Mega Man, Bill & Ted (with John Wick in tow), Power Rangers, Star Wars, and many more. My eyes were wide open and darting from figure to figure while also taking in the seemingly hundreds of posters and limited edition prints from movies, comics, and other art that adorned the walls. Every inch of wall space is like a geek art gallery and this is before we get into the games!
The range of games available is unprecedented. There are standard arcade cabinets like The Simpsons, NBA Jam, and even the original Mario Bros., Dance Dance Revolution, shooters like Area 51, an import of the driving game Initial D, a physical Pong air hockey game, pinball games for Jurassic Park, Guardians of the Galaxy (the only one not on free play), and Last Action Hero, down to newer machines like the Mortal Kombat II and Street Fighter II 1Up cabinets, and the most interesting thing to me, almost EVERY home console ever! With the exception of the newer consoles, every version of Sega and Nintendo is represented, Xbox, and even the limited mini-systems like the NES, SNES, Genesis, and PS One. I can show you pictures but there are so, so, so many games and a ton I missed. We were there for 2 ½ hours and I don’t think I played 5% of the available games. It was quite literally a sensory and happiness overload trying to go from game to game, especially beating The Simpsons game due to unlimited plays. But eventually, it came time to try the cereal bar out and it made me love the place even more.
So not only are there your standard cereals available (Honeycomb, Trix, Reese’s Puffs, etc.), the main draw is the limited edition and hard-to-get cereals. I swear I saw every single Funko Pop cereal, Cotton Candy Crunch, and the two that interested me most: the new Space Jam and Ghostbusters cereals. I had been looking for these boxes for a couple of months locally and not only could I not find them, but when trying to find them online, all of them were selling for exorbitant prices. Maniac’s Mansion will let you buy the rare cereals while supplies last for $5 a box. Basically a steal. We left with a two-pack of Space Jam and 2 boxes of Ghostbusters (both extremely delicious by the way.) The Facebook and Instagram pages announce when they’ve got new cereals in stock to try or buy and they’ll even hold them for you. I know it’s a 4-hour drive, but I plan to come back at least a few times a year.
All in all, I have nothing negative to say about this place other than I wish it was closer to me. Marcus is a gracious host who talked shop with me, shared his love of all things I love, and created an environment that is the best in Black, geek, and local excellence. For all who can, please stop by and I hope you love it as much as I do. This is my newest happy place.