Where a Kid Can be a Kid!
We used to beg and plead with my parents to take us to Chuck E. Cheese’s whenever we passed it even though we knew it was more of a special occasion type place. Sure the pizza and prizes sucked, but this place was magical! The games were classic and the indoor playground was awesome. Am I wrong to remember Chuck wearing a suit/tux? He’s certainly changed his appearance from a more realistic version of Mickey Mouse to a fun loving kid over the years. Today there are more than 500 locations in the US and other countries in the western hemisphere.
The idea of Chuck E. Cheese’s first came from the founder of Atari. The concept was to have video games and entertainment in a family, restaurant environment. Several break ups and mergers later, Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theater evolved into what is the Chuck E. Cheese’s we know today.
Up until the mid 90s a big draw to the restaurant was the animated characters that performed on a stage. I remember it was always a big deal when the curtains opened and these animatronics started jamming out. Of course, once you got older you couldn’t see the big deal because they were obviously fake.
The main staple you eat at Chuck E. Cheese’s is of course, pizza. I’m not sure if it’s improved any, but the quality was terrible. It was sort of like eating cardboard. Therefore, you did not go to eat pizza, you went for the entertainment. And if you got hungry… food was easily accessible.
Cups full of tokens were one of those things that made the pizza worth it.
Unfortunately the exchange rate for tokens never really seemed fair to me. For the amount of money I was putting in, I should have been able to get TONS of tokens, right? Wrong. Tokens would get used up fast and then my parent’s wouldn’t give me any more money because they felt like they had already given me enough.
Since I was on a token budget, I’d always go for the games that would give me tickets so I could trade them in. But of course you never had enough tickets to get the really cool stuff. If you were lucky you could get plastic rings, a pencil, and some fake bugs… for ten dollars worth of tokens?
Chuck E. Cheese’s has a very clever money scheme going. Kind of like Disney World, but worst. Apparently they are looking at switching from tokens to money cards and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made you buy the card on top of adding money to it!
Chuck E. Cheese’s had some classic games that I always looked forward to playing:
Having a birthday party there was like a dream come true for kids and a nightmare for parents. But at least there was cake, food and entertainment! I once worked with a lady who said the only thing that made Chuck E. Cheese bearable was the fact that they served beer and that she was lucky that her kids were older by the time they stopped serving it.
The best story I have about Chuck E. Cheese is from when my older cousin had her birthday there. As a kid she had pretty wild hair, so as she went in to blow out the candles, her hair caught on fire! Luckily nothing bad happened but it sure did make for a good family video. My cousins always said that after that she was traumatized by Chuck E. Cheese.
For more info and fun, check out the Chuck E. Cheese’s website. Do you have a memory to share? I’d like to end with this hilariously funny video of the Chuck E. Cheese band performing “Love in this Club” by Usher:
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