It finally happened. Our first visit to Chuck E. Cheese (aka CEC).
I have been avoiding that restaurant. The biggest fear was sensory overload for B. Screeching kids zipping around the arcade area, totally unsupervised? The blaring music, pulsating lights and a cacophony of beeps, bings and zaps? Winning tickets that really don’t count up to any awesome prizes when you drag yourself up to the ticket counter, weary from the experience? Or hearing about all the adult fights?
Oh yeah. Fabulous.
But I got an e-mail from the mom of one of B’s former classmates who really wanted us to go. And I had to face my fear of the CEC.
Don’t get me wrong – I have been to a Chuck E. Cheese. I think I was 10. And one of THE best birthday parties was when my parents gave me a birthday party at Showbiz Pizza, a whole 1 1/2 hour trip away. (Note: Showbiz Pizza is now affliated with the CEC but back then they were different). Back then, there were mechanically controlled puppet band shows which were the coolest.
Things change, as I come to find out.
Most things are the same – you know the games and the tickets for crappy stuff. But there’s no more band – there’s just CEC on the stage. By the way, CEC has undergone a makeover of sorts – now it’s the singer from Bowling for Soup that will be the voice.
All the “birthday celebrations” are queued up digitally and play out on one of the multiple TV screens. It seemed a bit drab to me – not exactly what I remembered from the good ole days.
B, on the other hand, found Mecca.
He loved the games. He loved the rides. He found that Skeeball was awesome. Thank goodness these parties come with tokens because we went through one set in quick succession. (Luckily, the mom gave us another set).
While other moms let their kids to explore on their own (and CEC does “brand” you know as a security measure, not a bad idea) I was very nervous about that. Especially as I discovered that B wanted to play every game. No matter if someone else was playing it – and especially if it wasn’t one of his friends. I had to play referee quite a bit so that B didn’t bogart someone’s play time.
Regardless, he had such a grand time. So awesome that he barely ate a slice of pizza and a cupcake before wanting to go back out. It didn’t help that his other buddies from the old class were there too – a reunion of sorts. Even his teacher from last year stopped by for a bit – it was nice to catch up with her.
Of course, this doesn’t mean he’s going to have a birthday party there. Not right now. Not by a long shot.