General Question

jca's avatar

Why is Chuck E. Cheese so popular and yet it's so disgusting?

Asked by jca (35970points) April 30th, 2012

I have been to about four different Chuck E. Cheese places. Kids love them, but they’re dirty, noisy, crowded, understaffed, it’s impossible to find a place to sit, and the food is awful and overpriced. The birthday parties have zero creativity – they line the tables up and have several parties going on simultaneously, and the kids eat the awful food and then they’re released to play on the dirty, grimy games.

Why are they so popular?

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31 Answers

josie's avatar

They appeal to the lowest commen denominator. Just like most politicians.

digitalimpression's avatar

Because it has nothing to do with the food.

sferik's avatar

Kids don’t care about any of the supposed problems you mentioned.

* Dirty? No problem. Kids love playing in filth.
* Noisy? The kids are the ones making the noise! That’s the sound of them having fun.
* Crowded? Kids don’t care. They’re small.
* Understaffed? Kids don’t care.
* Bad food? Kids don’t have refined taste. They love pizza and hot dogs.
* Overpriced? Kids don’t pay.

Chuck E. Cheese is not designed to appeal to adults, it’s designed to be fun for kids. I loved Chuck E. Cheese as a kid because it had a ball pool and there was nowhere else that had a ball poll and nothing is more fun than a ball pool.

Coloma's avatar

Because they are the perfect party warehouse, makes it easy on the parents, and the kids love crappy pizza and games. lol
It’s a goldmine, and gold mines are dirty but they yield a lot of gold. haha

bkcunningham's avatar

I’ve been to two different Chuck E. Cheeses in my life. One was at North Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a yearly trip for many years. It was very clean and nice. We went to a Chuck E. Cheese in Northern Virginia with my husband’s sister and her children and another child they brought. They were visiting us in Arlington, Va., and we thought it would be nice time for them. They were excited and looking forward to the experience until we had to step over a homeless person passed out on the sidewalk at the door to Chuck E. Cheese.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have never been to Chuck E Cheese, so I can’t comment, but let me ask a related question. What accounts for the popularity of McDonald’s? What they call hamburgers barely come under the heading of food. Have you ever examined one of them minus the sauce – flat, greasy and flavorless. It is not just kids who go to McDonald’s.

linguaphile's avatar

Chuck E. Cheese appeals to kids the same way light up, beep-beep toys do—action/reward… do an action, get a reward. Lots of music, lights, instant gratification, instant rewards, tickets whirring out of machines to be used for 10 cent toys, animatronics!! Pavlov and groupthink at its best!

I forgot to add… lack of discipline—kids can run wild and their parents give up herding the cats.

jca's avatar

@LostInParadise: McDonald’s is fine dining compared to Chuck E Cheese.

Fly's avatar

I get how kids are attracted by free reign to run around and play, prizes, junk food, and a mildly creepy mascot, but I personally never got sucked into the hype when I was little.

On a related note, I recently found out that Chuck E. Cheese bought Discovery Zone in the late 90s and, rather than keeping the Discovery Zones as they were, turned them all into Chuck E. Cheeses. This makes absolutely no sense to me, as I found Discovery Zone (essentially a giant playground) to be infinitely more fun than Chuck E. Cheese, even when I was a little kid!

linguaphile's avatar

@Fly SO that’s what happened to the Discovery Zones!! I’ve been wondering because they’d have been a perfect place for my daughter—she loves that kind of activity too, way more than Chuck E. Cheese.

blueiiznh's avatar

I liken it to the game arcades at the beach. Who needs it orderly when it’s all about tokens and coupons.
The food is a distraction.

Fly's avatar

@linguaphile You can thank Alex Trebek for that one! I was recently thinking that such a place should re-open, but I imagine that there are a lot of sanitation issues now.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve never be to one. I think I even found an excuse not to take my kids to one when invited for a birthday party. After reading what people say here, I am very glad I followed my instincts on this. I would have truly hated it worse than I even imagined.

linguaphile's avatar

@Fly This place is similar, but pricey. My daughter can stay in there for hours, hours and hours. Makes ‘pricey’ worth it :D

jca's avatar

@wundayatta: I can’t stand it and I don’t think my daughter enjoys it a whole lot, either. We only go if invited to a kid’s party. She’s not into the whole loud, crowded scene. When we’re there, she’ll want to ride the racing horse over and over, because she doesn’t enjoy arcade games that much. To me, being there is like torture.

Berserker's avatar

What, are you kidding? Last time I went was eons ago, for a birthday party. But it was awesome! They had arcade machines all over the place that I played at, plus this huge inflatable house thing where you jumped and bounced around in. Plus mascots and a laser show for when the girl’s birthday song came up. (granted it was the same show for every kid there celebrating their birthday, but still lol) Although I thought that franchise changed its name to ’‘Rucker’s’’.

@sferik Word up. ’‘sings’’ Chuck E Cheeeeese’s…where a kid can be a kid!

I do remember the food being really bad though. I think I had like not even two slices of pizza. :/

YARNLADY's avatar

Wow – we must really be lucky. Both of the Chuck E Cheeses I frequent are nothing like that. The food isn’t great, but the place is clean and the workers are helpful and friendly. Our whole family loves going there, and we are sorry our kids are almost too old for it.

SuperMouse's avatar

I think part of the appeal is the creepy mascot, those awful animated characters that sing and dance, and those ridiculous “rides”. Honestly though I think the ultimate draw is those tokens, tickets, and cheesy trinkets. The times I have been there that has seemed to be where the kids spent most of their time. Why not really, all a kid has to do collect about 12,000,000 tickets and they will get a one inch plastic turtle just like the one they pulled out the treasure box the last time the visited the dentist.

I have been to Chuck E. Cheese’s a couple times and consider myself incredibly fortunate that all three of my children had a deathly fear of the rat. Because of their horror I had a built in excuse to avoid the place. That is truly a gift.

bkcunningham's avatar

A deathly fear of the rat?

Trillian's avatar

Last time I went was four or five years ago at my son’s request. I think he was 15. He brought a couple of his friends. My youngest daughter was 9ish and kicked my ass at that game with the balls and bowling alley angled up at the end thing with concentric rings and holes. We also shot balls out of cannons and which knocked over pins and we shot squirt guns into clown’s mouths to fill up balloons, AND we played laser tag which ROCKED!
Meh, we didn’t care about the pizza, and they didn’t go into the ball pit but there was a ride that simulated a roller coaster; way fun. There were pinball machines for my raggedy old ass to play on while the kids rolled their eyes, coin-drops, bumpercars, first-person shooter games galore, and a counter full of cheap trash where they traded in their tickets for shit that got broken and thrown out almost immediately.
A GREAT time was had by all.
So there!

JLeslie's avatar

It makes perfect sense to me children like it. What is overwhelming for me is the feeling that germs are eveyrwhere. Any place with bunches of kids running around gives me that feeling though. I don’t see it as much different than any arcade or indoor playground. The pizza is sub par that’s for sure. We used to go to Dave and Busters, kind of the same, but better for adults I think.

Fly's avatar

@bkcunningham Behold, Chuck E. Cheese in all his glory.

@Trillian Dang, your Chuck E. Cheese sounds nice! Ours is very run down and filled with outdated arcade games. To put it into perspective, the most advanced technology there is the extremely creepy animatronic band.
P.S. It’s called Skeeball, and it is indeed extremely fun.

chyna's avatar

@Fly Why are none of the kids smiling in your link? They don’t seem to be having fun at Chuck E. Cheese.

Trillian's avatar

@Fly Yeah. Ours had the band too, but creepy, flea bitten, shabby, and stay the heck away were all phrases that sprang to mind thinking of them, so I stuck with the good aspects of the visit!

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Kids don’t care about dirty, noisy, crowded, and understaffed. Parents can overlook a lot for two hours when they can basically pretend they have no kids.

Sunnybunny's avatar

The great thing about Chuck E Cheese is that if you don’t like it or your kid doesn’t like it, you don’t have to go.

We took our kids for the first time last year. The location we went to was clean and adequately staffed and the pizza we had was better than we expected. We spent less money than we do when we all go to the movies, but instead of sitting and staring at a screen we were all playing games together. My husband thought he would hate it but he had just as much fun as the kids.

It never occurred to us to sit around and pretend we have no kids. And from what I remember it didn’t look like the other parents were pretending to be childless either.

As for the birthday parties I do agree that they suck. The way they have more than one party at a time and sing happy birthday to all the kids at once is so lame. They don’t even try to pretend to make it personal or special and I’d never have a kid’s party there. But for some fun as a family I’d totally go back. Even my super cool preteen daughter couldn’t keep up her bored act at Chuck E Cheese.

cheebdragon's avatar

The chuck-e-cheese down the street from my house is actually fairly nice, it’s never very crowded and we always have fun when we go. It really speaks volumes, because I can’t stand places like Disneyland, and there isn’t enough hand sanitizer in the world to convince me to let my kid go in one of those playground things at McDonalds or Burger King.

jca's avatar

There’s a brand new one about 10 minutes from my house, and I went there twice, thinking it would change my previously negative attitude about it. The first time was for a kid’s party, and it was lame just like any other Chuck E Cheese party. The second time was about two months ago, Groupon had a special where you get a ton of tokens plus pizza, salad bar and drinks for $25. Because it was winter at the time I figured we’d do it, and it would give us something to do.

The food was so gross, the salad bar was so bad, so lame. I was lucky enough to find a table that someone vacated, and I found a busboy to clean it. He comes with his bucket and rag and wipes. It was so loud because there was a speaker right overhead, where they have blaring music (in addition to the machines that all have beeps, whistles, honks, etc. coming out of them), and I asked the busboy if he could have the speaker turned off, and he said they couldn’t.

I’m sure the rides and games are not cleaned adequately. They look clean, because they were fairly new, but when you think about dozens or hundreds of kids each day playing, touching, eating, going to the bathroom and touching the games, it’s gross.

Unfortunately, my daughter is invited to a birthday party at one in a few weeks, so I’ll be going there again.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We call them Vegas for Kids. The one near us has more arrests per month than any of the other businesses on the very busy road it’s on. Apparently parents brawl, leave their kids with Chuck for hours, or choose to drink heavily prior to spending time with their kids.

We can’t do Chuck E Cheese even if we wanted to. We only took our son once or twice when he was much younger.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I took my kids there for birthday parties, because the kids got fed and entertained, and I didn’t have to have them tearing up my house. I thought it was great for just that reason. I didn’t have any issues with bad food or dirt, because I have often taken my kids to amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, circuses, even Disneyland, and they all have bad food and grime from other people.

meecepeece's avatar

I completely despise Chuck E.Cheese in this area.It is where all of the low class folks with no manners or values go.I was a serious child myself and wouldnt have thought to go then.I still dislike such places.Its like a germ and noise factory.Children annoy me and I have no use for them,nor do I have or want any.I went twice with friends who had a child.I think if you feel the need to pretned not to have kids for any timeperiod,then you should have thought better of having them in the first place.personally dont get why anyone would want one. I went to CEC and it was dirty,all surfaces sticky,children acting as if they were raised in the jungle.The games were broken because children are animals who cant take care of things,anymore.When I was little my arcade games lasted years&years. I couldnt bring myself to even taste the pizza or salads.All I could think about was nasty children sneezing on the salad items.I wore gloves because I always do.That saved me from germs I ended up playing the air hocky game over and over because I enjoy games.the noise made me want to act upon illegal violence however.I become “homicidal“whenever I hear a child do anything more than speak normally,or sit there.I knew I couldnt deal with CEC but went to be nice,spent most of my time hating everyone there.Wanting to punch parents and their offspring,to the level I finally had to leave.Its hell to put it nicely,I will never return.

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