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I don’t want to alarm you about my summer but I’ve already been to Chuck E. Cheese twice and it’s only mid July. For some reason, that is hard to pinpoint, all of my children really like Chuck E. Cheese. And I’m so glad they spell it Chuck E. Cheese which is so much more sophisticated than Chucky Cheese.


When you enter a Chuck E. Cheese, you will immediately notice that it is very loud and there is a lot of free range parenting going on. There are kids just wandering around everywhere (including my own).

But not to worry because there is an employee stationed at the door who won’t let you leave unless the invisible stamp on your arm matches the invisible stamp on your children’s arms. This employee is always vigilantly standing guard unless of course he’s reading a very important text from his girlfriend. But most of the time, he’s at your service!

Now parents are only needed for two things at this establishment.

1. To buy the tokens.

2. Track down employees to fix the broken machines.

Buying the tokens is reasonably simple. You take your hard earned cash, stuff it in the machines and out pops tokens that allows your children to play games and win tickets. These tickets can then be redeemed for total crap like plastic rings, candy and stickers.

I can’t remember how much everything costs but about 40,000 tickets will buy you a miniature box of Nerds. Roughly.

As far as I’m concerned, the creators of this Chuck E. Cheese chain are brilliant. In some brainstorming session, one guy said, “How about if we make parents buy $30 worth of tokens and 30 minutes later, their kids will trade all their tickets in for a plastic plane that is broken before they get to the car.”

“Who would do that?” another person in the meeting asked.

“Desperate parents. That’s who.”

Everyone in the meeting nods. And with that Chuck E. Cheese was born!

Besides buying tokens, the other job of the parent is to find employees to fix the broken machines. Because there is always a machine that isn’t properly spitting out tickets or isn’t working at all.

It can be very hard to find one of these magical machine fixing employees which is why I try to keep them in eyesight at all times. And if that means I lose track of my 2 year old for a minute and he ends up in the back kitchen so be it. At least I can get those machines fixed on the double.

I know it’s time to leave Chuck E. Cheese when I feel my head spinning and one of my children has inexplicably lost her shoes. So I gather my kids and as we walk out the door, I realize that I just spent $20 on 4 Fun Dips and 5 Tootsie rolls.

But at least I have a photo keepsake that lasts forever.


10 Responses to the parent survival guide to chuck e. cheese

  • Paul says:

    Kelcey, I don’t know how to break this to you but the founder of Chuck E. Cheese was Nolan Bushnell – the co-founder of Atari and the inventor of Pong ,and many of the other original electronic games. Once he had changed the world, he got bored and decided to found a chain of gaming restaurants for kids. What your kids are addicted to, is the same genius that our generation found so fascinating.

    • Stina says:

      Pretty close! The place was actually founded to get outsiders to test drive the new games (and pay for the privilege). Isn’t that cool???

  • Kristen says:

    the whole attendant at the door with the hand stamp thing is a joke! My husband and I came seperately and he carried in our baby and there was no one at the door and he had never Been there before so didn’t know about hand stamp thing. So when we went to leave they said you can’t leave unless you prove he is yours!
    I really wish it was games to play without tickets. Just have fun playing the games without worrying how many tickets you get.

  • BestOfSeven says:

    After they outgrow CEC, they’ll move on to Dave and Busters where the tickets are more expensive but at least they have a bar!

  • Tricia says:

    Last time I was there, 15 years ago, my kids came out of the tunnels, after climbing over some else’s poop. We left.

  • Lanie says:

    I have been there once – with an old boyfriend and his younger sister. When I left Chuck E. Cheese that day I promised myself not to ever go back. So, next time you go can my kids go with you too?

  • Judy P says:

    Hubby and I always say you need to spend a day a Chuck E. Cheese before you decide to have children. My nephew insisted on having his birthday party there every year. When he was 16 I told him I wasn’t coming to his 17th if it was at Chuck E.’s so he had it at Hooters, which actually wasn’t that much different. Less tokens.

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kelcey kintner