Monday, August 25, 2008

Why I hate Chuck E Cheese

I remember being a child and getting super excited about the Chuck E Cheese birthday party. My mom was not one for taking my brother and I to visit that party loving mouse "just cuz" so being invited to a posh party such as that was a rare treat.  Back then it was Mc Donald's or Chuck E Cheese if your parents were going to spoil you with more than a cake and a couple friends in the backyard. The mouse ruled the birthday party circuit. There was the ball pit. A large urine and feces covered wonderland of color and hours of fun. The giant play area with tunnels and slides that didn't burn your butt as you slid down them because they were made of that new fangled space age polymer we know as plastic and they were indoors! Lets not forget the skeeball. A Chuck E Cheese trademark where a child tested their bowling skills (or ability to cheat when nobody was looking by running up and throwing there ball directly into the 500pt hole) and won tickets to get all sorts of useless crap. Best of all there was sub par pizza served in a theater where our favorite Chuck E Cheese stars performed a bunch of animatronic hits. It was good fun for all.

Well either my memory is completely wrong or times have changed. Twice we have attempted Chuck E Cheese with our kids and twice we have been massively disappointed. The first time we took them to the one in Sacramento. What a frightening experience. Talk about ghetto fabulous. It must have been "Gangsta bring your illegitimate children day" because that is certainly what it looked like. The kids were excited so we got some tokens and checked out a few rides. There wasn't much to do besides a couple rides that kinda shook the kids and sorry excuse for toddler play area. No ball pit. No massively cool play structure. This just didn't seem like a good place to be. The topper for me was when the security guard inside the place walked past me and I saw he was carrying a gun! A gun! Inside Chuck E Cheese! We were so out of there.

The second time we attempted Chuck E Cheese was when we were in Southern California a couple weeks ago. I noticed there was a new restaurant near my mom's and I figured it would be safe and clean since it was in the heart of South Orange County. We still had a ton of unused tokens in our car so I figured it would a good way to entertain the kids for an hour or two. One thing I noticed at both Chuck E Cheese's is they now brand you to your child when you enter. They stamp you and your child with the same number that is only visible under a blacklight so someone can't come in and steal your child. I know it is a good idea but I found it incredibly depressing. What has the world come to? We have to barcode our kids so someone doesn't try to steal them out of a children's entertainment area? What a sad state of affairs.

After we got our secret stamp we checked things out. It was certainly alot cleaner at this C.E.C. And there wasn't a shady character to be seen.  I didn't see a security guard, let alone one carrying a gun. All good signs. So we let the kids loose. Ben, being Ben, immediately went for the balls. We decided to put our first token into skeeball. So we drop one in and......nothing. Okay- maybe the token got stuck. I drop another in. Still nothing. Son of a! We got an employee and had them refund our money and get the sucker started.

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Finally, skeeball heaven. Ben was happy to throw the balls in whatever lane he felt like and we were happy to let him since they mostly just came right back to him. Mari even gave a couple throws. Do I dare say we were going to have fun at C.E.C?

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Well I guess we kinda had fun. In a disappointed, laughing at how horrible the place was, sort of way. We had so many tokens eaten by the machines while were there. The employee told us they checked the machines every morning to make sure they worked but we dropped more tokens into those machines and had absolutely nothing happen then was even close to acceptable. It was so annoying. It got to the point where I didn't bother asking for an employee to come get my token back for me and get the machine running because one less token meant we were one step closer to getting the heck out of there. Once again,  there was no ball pit! There was a play structure but super cool is not how I would describe it. It was mediocre at best. And even more upsetting- no animatronic characters whatsoever! How  is that acceptable from C.E.C? It isn't. It was enough to convince me to never come back.

Here are some highlight photos of our time at C.E.C.

Ben looking absolutely thrilled with the rides. Evidentially the E in Chuck E Cheese  stands for entertainment.  I think Ben begs to differ.

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Mari did get some enjoyment from pounding things with the mallet but I think the biggest thrill came from pretending to drive the cars in the video game without a token in it.  Once again proving the best things in life really are free.

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I will say the mini air hockey was pretty cool

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but overall I would say this picture Paul took pretty much sums up our opinions of the place.

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We ended up giving away the last of our tokens because we just had enough. It was draining to be in that place. The kids didn't even seem to care that we were leaving.

Maybe I am missing something. Maybe we just picked the two worst C.E.C.'s in the country to visit. I dare the mouse to prove me wrong. Until then we stand our ground in declaring the place overwhelmingly lame and a token stealing rip off. Anyone else have similar experiences or are we just special?

15 comments:

The Romero-Schroeder said...

OMG, that sure sounded LAME!!!! i do love the pictures!

Terri said...

Our CEC is HORRIBLE!! I haven't been in over a year and will NOT EVER go back! Much like your experience, most of the games didn't work and the staff was less than helpful! As far as the ball pit. I THINK (don't quote me) most places got rid of them for suffication reasons.

Jenn H said...

I haven't been in a CEC in 4.5 years and it was ok, it was Nathaniel's 1st bday party so he didn't get much out of it :) The pizza was delicious, not! Why is it their pizza always tastes like bland sauce served on cardboard? The games did work, no play structure though or ball pit.

Mashel said...

I totally agree with you, our Chuck E Cheese's here in Washington is lame too. It is huge, and it is the same one that I went to as a kid, but now they have taken out all of the animatronic charactors and replaced them with giant video screens. And yes they took out the ball pits, I think in most of them. Something to do with hyperdurmic needles and old diapers being found at the bottoms! Lovely huh? The best part for us, is a week after we atended a birthday party there for a friend from Hunter's school, it was on the news that a 5 year old boy was molested in the bathroom!!! At the very one we had been to a week before! I won't be going back there!

CC said...

I can't stand c.e.c either! At least it didn't look horribly crowded! I have been to c.e.c 2x and both times I hated it and couldn't wait to leave! My friend Jen went there and she couldn't believe how these kids they didn't even know kept hounding them for tickets and money! So, i would say... all c.e.cs are lame!

Debbie Moore said...

ok - after reading this and the comments, I don't think we will ever be going to C.E.C with our kids, thanks for the heads up.

BoufMom9 said...

LMAO! I hate CEC! I have only been a few times, but agree... it's highpriced and yet, not much to really do that is fun besides play video games. UGH!

Jessica said...

I think the last time I was in one was in college, and I was slightly inebriated...and it was the Sacramento one, and it was ghetto then, too...(probably didn't help having drunk college kids wandering around...) The ball pits in CEC were removed due to "safety" reasons, and cause kids were stealing so many balls it was a drain on their resources...

Shannon said...

Ugh! I agree, hate C.E.C.! I've only been once since I was a kid...I took Luke when he was 18 months old, and I never want to go back. Dirty, germy place! He got sick the day after we went. He keeps bugging me to go every time we pass one (he's seen the tv commercials and thinks it looks like fun, and obviously doesn't remember going there before). I'm hoping to keep avoiding it though!

Beki said...

Chuck E. Sucks.. we have a place called John' Incredible Pizza in Mo Val and my kids who are 10 & 12 love it.. they have a little roller coaster in there along with bumper cars and a mini bowling alley.. when you come down again thats where we will have to go!

Alf said...

We are lucky I suppose, our CEC is pretty new and clean, yeah CEC is a tad expensive but I think all adults know that going in. If not they should research it.

I posted a letter I sent to the CEO of the company, he has been in charge for about 15 years now. I doubt if I will get a response but we will see.

CEC Entertainment
Incorporated

Attention Michael H. Magusiak

4441 West Airport Freeway
Irving, Texas 75062



Dear Mr. Magusiak,



I regret to inform you that my family and I will no longer patronize your location at 4992 State Highway 190 in Garland Texas.

Today we attended a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s my family have hosted four parties at that establishment for our two children.



Today my son and I ran across a game that I feel is not fair.

Please allow me to explain the issue to you. My son and I were playing the drawbridge game; the idea is to shoot a token from a green gun into a small slot. We hit the 20 ticket slot three times in about seven tokens. We only received about 20 tickets total. Often times the machine would not dispense one ticket for a miss that fell into the circle. I thought the machine was broke. I found a game attendant and asked for help, before helping me she saw a friend went over and hugged him. She was a female her name escapes me. She came over and checked the game and said its fine…. I asked to speak with the manager and a young man named Tony came to help me, I explained to him what the issue was. He stated “oh you have to shoot 10 then 20 then 50 in order to get the tickets.” In Tony’s defense he did ask me how many tokens I lost, I told him this was not about the tokens I had a whole pocket full of them, it was about being fair and the principal of the matter. When he would not oblige my request for the forty missing tickets I asked for the address to the corporate headquarters. He gave me a business card for the store with Bryan Schwieterman the general manager’s name on it.



I would like for you to answer two questions for me, how is a six year old supposed to figure that game out? Most kids that age know their letters and can read a bit, but when they are visiting your establishment that is the furthest thing from their minds. If I am not mistaking your target audience at least for birthday parties is four thru eight year olds. I understand you do not make most of the games that are installed in your restaurants. Perhaps someone there should look at not tricking people with the games. It is not in the best interest of your company to do that. This is about the principal of the matter not the tickets or the tokens.



Second question is it worth loosing a patron over 40 tickets? Last time we turned in tickets we were short about 200 and purchased a 3000 ticket item took about 7 months of visits and a lot of saving to get my son a special Mega Bloks set from your establishment. I paid for the difference to get the big one for him.



I am not happy at how this issue was handled at the restaurant. The issue could have been diffused with a simple sincere apology and the missing tickets, the only person that did apologize was the door man that let us out. I left upset vowing to never return. This is first time in about 30 visits to your store that we have had an issue.



A side note, in front of the salad bar there was a spill of some sort and the floor was very slippery it was not wet. I suppose it may have been olive oil or something like it, there was a pylon out but it stayed very slippery from the time we arrived at 10:15 until about 12:15. It was being attended to when my family and I were leaving. I slipped in the same spot twice while getting my wife’s salad, I did not fall nor did anyone that I saw.

burnttoastzombies said...

Ok first off i would just like to say that they did not have a ball pit because 1: kids pee in it , 2: some cases of nails are found in ball pit. Security Gards are used because employees get harassment from guests. There was probably no robots there because kids climb all over them. and the "branding" you called it, which is actully called kid check, really its both for making sure your kid does not leave because parents these days dont pay a bit of attention to their own kids and to make sure people dont steal your kids. Really? your pretty much saying its depressing having that security, would you rather have none of that and having your son running out into the parking lot and get hit by a car, because thats what happened to a three year old years ago, the reason kid check existed. obviously i do/have worked at one and they do teach you all of this at training.

Gene said...

I hate chuck e cheese with a passion. i will never visit them again. i will donate both kidneys before i goto that place again.

Anonymous said...

This is a warning for all parents. I held my daughters 4th birthday party here and she contracted MRSA. For those not in the know this is a virulent staph infection. Staph skin infections, including MRSA, generally start as small red bumps that resemble pimples, boils or spider bites. These can quickly turn into deep, painful abscesses that require surgical draining. Sometimes the bacteria remain confined to the skin. But they can also burrow deep into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.h there is no cure and it is resistant to antibiotics. The worst part is that when I contacted their corporate office they told me very rudely that they carried no liability in this issue and refused to respond to my questions as a nurse as to how they intend to isolate and control the bacteria so that this does not occur again. Given the life of staph and the fact that they have yet to inform the public or take appropriate precautions, you should assume that all of their games and equiptment are contaminated and can result in MRSA.

Anonymous said...

I hate chuck e cheese because this game is a ripp off which is pop it 4 gold