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Chuck E. Cheese: I Smell A Rat

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 "I've seen Hell and it goes by the name of Chuck E. Cheese."

Momlogic's Andrea: Within two minutes of visiting Chuck E. Cheese for the first time there were tears. Not my toddler's. Mine. 

Never in my life have I been in such a crowded filthy, loud, urine-soaked and dangerous den of iniquity -- not since riding a New York subway at rush hour.

At the moment that pimply teen door attendant stamped our hands I was calculating how to convince my toddler that we should get out of there. But it was too late. I watched in terror as my daughter ran toward a multi-colored climbing structure.

Within a second she was gone.

What I didn't realize was that the tubes connected to a labyrinth of other tubes that ran the entire ceiling of this heinous pizza parlor. The only way out, a slide at the far end. There are a few tiny little windows on the side of the tubes but they're so streaked with pizza grease you can't see though them. What's worse the opening of the maze is too small to allow an adult to go in.

I started to panic.

What if she never came down? What if she was up there crying because she can't figure out how to get out of the rat maze? Were there kids living up there - ala Lord of the Flies, faces streaked with tomato sauce as war paint starting their own civilization?

I waited, trying to figure out the best way to tell my husband I'd lost our daughter. Or if she ever did ever come out how would ever find enough Purel to decontaminate her.

I could feel the tears coming so instead of completely losing it I decided to check out the surroundings before I made that call to Missing Persons. Here's a sampling of what I saw:

  • A little girl sitting a motorized car, expressionless as the roadster bounced up and down - her parents nowhere in sight.

  • Six boys, hanging from the "Clock Chair." A single seat "ride" that moves clockwise around the face of a clock. The weight of the mini hooligans almost toppling over the metal contraption onto some unsuspecting toddlers.

  • Two moms, both looking nearly suicidal, silently drinking beer in a booth strewn with half-eaten pizzas.

  •  Hopped up on sugar, a small boy screaming as his mom desperately tried to explain she was out of tokens.

What didn't I see? Attendants looking after the pandemonium. Nope, the place looked like the lunatics had taken over the asylum. And I was half hoping someone would put me in a straight jacket.

Finally when 10 long minutes had passed, I convinced an older kid to go up, find my daughter and lure her out with a piece of cheese. Just at that moment my little girl gleefully slid down the slide. Happy and laughing hysterically she ran back to the entrance of the maze and scrambled back up. I realized at that moment she was already addicted to Chuck E. Crack. Is there detox for such a thing?

Did I just get a bad taste of Chuck E. Cheese or is it truly hell on earth? 

next: All the Most Fashionable Reptiles Wear Polly Pocket
44 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 26, 2008, 3:13 PM

This is hilarious. It’s true. It is gross.

Lori Long September 26, 2008, 3:24 PM

As long as I stick pretty close to my kids, I don’t have a problem. The pizza stinks but the kids have a good time and usually pass out early the evenings we go there.

They could definitely use more staff to monitor things there, that’s for sure.

Tammy September 26, 2008, 3:24 PM

Yes, it’s not a spectacular place but I don’t think by taking a child there it makes you “a terrible parent”. I need to find a new parent site, in the last 24 hours I have seen three articles that claim a parent is horrible, terrible or something to that effect. It just doesn’t seem to have logic on this site, just a bunch of people telling what is awful and what’s “wrong”.

KarenSamuels September 26, 2008, 3:42 PM

It really is not a good place for kids. anywhere they serve booze with kids around has got to be bad. Why not just bring them to a bar and throw some toys on the ground they’d be just as entertained and it’d probably be cleaner.

foxymama September 26, 2008, 4:12 PM

hell - grab some purell and have some fun. neat games, food isn’t horrible and it is contained at least…those pimply teenagers haven’t lost a kid yet, right? not that I’ve heard of. give the rat a break.

shanna September 26, 2008, 4:20 PM

I share your loathing for this frightening franchise. Thankfully, my kids also feared the giant rat so much that they outright boycott all birthday party invitations from Chuck E Cheese. I am eternally grateful for that!

Beckie September 26, 2008, 4:33 PM

Our CEC is pretty new, so it’s still relatively clean. I make it a point to ONLY go during weekday mornings or early afternoons, when it’s pretty empty. Where I live, it is routinely 100+ degrees on summer days, and way to hot to play outside, so CEC is a air conditioned alternative, with so-so pizza and fun for both my kids.

Anonymous September 26, 2008, 4:43 PM

I completely share your horror and disgust at what happens inside those doors. It is a vile and repulsive place frequented by the dregs of society. Here’s how I get out of taking my child to places like Chuck E. Cheese - I tell him they are VERY dirty and that he will get very sick and have to go to the doctor if he goes inside. It works really well and I suggest you try it next time that giant rodent convinces your child he/she wants to go in.

Kathy Sena September 26, 2008, 4:45 PM

Well, all the other stuff aside, it’s the worst pizza ever. And the last time I was there, the teenager making the pizza had a yucky-looking bandage on his hand. Did he wear a plastic glove over it? No… I thought the bandage might fall off into the sauce. Nice.

Anonymous September 26, 2008, 4:53 PM

The CEC that we have where I live is a very clean place to go to. Both of my kids were scare of CEC but they love the games. I just wish they gave better prizes. When you spend 40 bucks in tokens and walk out w/ toosie rolls and plastic bugs, I think its a rip off.

Lindy September 26, 2008, 5:25 PM

Haven’t been to a CEC since the DD was little (the 90s). Do they still have the ball pits? I heard alot of places were getting rid of them because they were unsanitary. The Mc Donalds by us used to have one in the play area but now it’s gone. I remember the windows in the tubes were always were very dirty and looked like they were never cleaned. If you have a weekend b-day party there and don’t buy their b-day package (w/the cake) they rudely try to rush you out of there even when you spend money on THEIR pizza, soda, and game tokens.

cat September 26, 2008, 5:58 PM

I guess it just depends on what city you go to. The ones I took my daughter to were clean, and well kept. Sure the kids are running around, and its loud. because they are having fun. I always sat at the table and kept the tokens with me. I only gave her 3 at a time. That way she always had to come back to me to get 3 more. I never let her go to the bathroom by herself either. We loved it…and it worked out well..

Anonymous September 26, 2008, 6:33 PM

mine used to be very clean up until a year a go when because (I think) of remodeling..And now I know why my parents took me there ,to expensive

Heather G in MN September 26, 2008, 6:36 PM

Most Chuck E Cheeses are NASTY…Lakeland, FL, we walked in, EVERY TABLE (not kidding) that wasn’t occupied had old pizza (congealed cheese, eew!,) on it, old enough you could tell it had been there for HOURS. Feet sticking to the floor. Brandon, FL, not quite as bad, friendly teen staff, attentive manager. Now, I’ve been to one in MN that was spottless and genuinely tolerable. I guess it’s true…location, location, location.

a. September 26, 2008, 7:40 PM

I LOVED Chuck E. Cheese when I was a kid—but I can’t imagine the horror of what my mom must have felt taking me there.

me September 26, 2008, 8:54 PM

the one where I live is relatively clean. Most likely because all the games and rides are so often out of order or just plain eat your tokens that they don’t get a whole lot of use!

Anonymous September 26, 2008, 10:09 PM

I think the only thing going for that place is that you CAN drink while entertaining the kids. Who doesn’t need that?

Melissa September 27, 2008, 9:15 AM

The CEC where we live is very clean. My kids have a wonderful time. It is very relaxing. I do stay with my kids though. I don’t leave it to attendants. You never should!!!

ashley September 27, 2008, 9:33 AM

The first time we went to a party there my son was probably 3 and he got up in the maze and was just smiling at me through the dirty windows. He was up there like 20 minutes and we had to go have some kid drag him out. I HATE THAT PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JoLynn September 27, 2008, 5:25 PM

I share in the disgust that some of you feel for Chuck E. Cheese. I’m glad someone has finally mentioned this, as I’ve always wondered if I’m the only mom around who loathes the big Cheese. Ours is filled with greasy rides, and unoperable games that leave kids crying for their tickets. I often wonder, after watching BOTH parents chug down pitchers of beer, who is driving the kids home! I dread driving past Chuck E. Cheese, because the kids beg me to visit, but my response is always the same, “Not today, they’re closed!”

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