Time: 1-2 hours
Recurrence: Once or twice a year
There’s probably going to be some big hubbub about me referencing the actual establishment’s name, but I see it as free advertising for them. And with ALL the readers I have out there, I think they’re the winners in the end, really.
Chuck E. Cheese is another iconic kid destination that even single people or older couples understand is strictly a kids restaurant. There is no other way around it. It’s all fun and games, even when someone gets hurt. No….not really. But where else can you find that many games for kids and adults and still get some place to put your stuff down and eat?
A few comments on the food. It’s not that great. If you can, I would suggest eating ahead of time. The pizzas are an absolute miracle within a culture that has seemingly tried to improve this dish in so many ways. It’s actually found a way to made it worse, yet still charge a premium. That’s brand loyalty and recognition, my friends. If you want to have authentic Chuck E. Cheese pizza, you can make it at home. Take a tortilla and leave it out on the counter for 2 days. After it’s good and stale, take a ketchup packet and spread it evenly across the surface of your tortilla. To top it off, find the most off-brand mozzarella flavored gum-based product and make a fine coating upon your ketchup. Microwave for thirty second and viola: a $16 pizza. I’m not a huge eater, but I could eat two of these on my own. And the salad bar isn’t going to be much a smorgasbord either. If you like a lot of different colors in your salad, you’re not going to get it as most of the vegetables are just a slight hue off of white, from the lettuce to the tomatoes and the carrots. So, try and minimize the damage and the recurrent hunger pains and eat something to fill you up before you go. Oh, you’ll still get the pizza for your daughter, but she likes that stuff.
On to the games. I would chat with your daughter ahead of time as to the whole “ticket” scam. You play one game of skee ball and out come a few tickets. She then runs the tickets over to the Prize Table only to have you talk her through how many tickets she needs to get some of the prizes. In some cases, it’s going to take a few months worth of skee ball. A good route would be to talk through what she really wants to “win”, if there is anything at all. If there isn’t, AWESOME! But when she does want to win something, do some quick math with her to talk through how she is going to earn it. She might have to pony up some of her own money to get her to that stuffed Chuck E. Cheese. Work it out ahead of time, and that will save you all the tantrums in the world.
But play some of the actual video games with her too. Most likely, she’s going to need your help to pull some of them off. Sure, she could play on her own, but playing a Big Buck Hunter or motorcycle game with Dad helping out is so much fun to her. If she’s big enough, play a little air hockey and compete a bit. If she gets frustrated, don’t make it a big deal, just move on to the next game. And who gets too irritated playing air hockey? Remember, this isn’t college, so you don’t need to bring that intensity. Visually and verbally taunting your daughter after your win is probably poor tact, even in an establishment with as snooty of an air as Chuck E. Cheese. That was sarcasm.
Lastly, don’t forget the big mouse himself and his band of animatronic friends. Weird, yes, but not to a kid. When that teenager dressed up as Chuck E. comes out of those doors, just suspend the believe for a bit and let your daughter high five it up. Yes, that costume has not been washed since 1998 and is probably crawling with some form of bird lice, but she’s excited to see that character in uniform. Unless there is a birthday party taking up the whole area, sit down for a few minutes from the action to watch the robots in action. The music isn’t the best, but that’s another thing they haven’t changed since 1998.
When you’re done with the tokens, you’re done. That’s the best way to leave on a good note and with as little push back as possible. The whole thing is an absolute sensory overload with the lights, food, games, screaming kids, and music. Your daughter is probably going to be ready for break to. So when she says, “Dad, can we go?” GO. Leave on that high note that way she’ll want to come back with you. And if she wants to come back to THAT, it’s not about that place, it’s about YOU.
DID IT! with David B.
“Chuck E. Cheese is just one of those dates that just has to be done. But then, you’ve got to lose her while you’re in there! It was crazy. She doesn’t remember now; she was only three. I was scared to death.
We’re going down to see Micheal (her brother) for the first time because he was born in the hospital. So we went to Chuck E. Cheese for dinner, and I LOST HER. IN CHUCK E. CHEESE. For like, 15 to 20 minutes, I could not find her. It was not a good moment! I mean, it’s totally a fun idea, but not the way I did it.
It’s funny because we had a great time, but that’s all I can remember. Like I said, she doesn’t remember and her memories of Chuck E. Cheese are all of games and prizes. So I guess I didn’t screw up too bad.”
Thanks for reading and thanks for being a dad…