Showbiz Pizza Place. (aka. Chuck E. Cheese)
September 4, 2002 5:09 PM   Subscribe

Showbiz Pizza Place. (aka. Chuck E. Cheese) is every American child's right of passage. I, personally, am still haunted by nightmares of the animatronic terror that was The Rockafire Explosion. I can still hear their soulless robotic chanting. No mention however in the employee handbook about having to clean the 'accidents' in the ball-pit. (I only did it once after a large soda.)
posted by Stan Chin (25 comments total)
Courtesy of the no-longer-on-hiatus relaunched!

Okay, I was fibbing. I accidently peed twice in the ball pit. To the poor souls who cleaned that everyday, I'm so sorry. Anybody else have memories of this place? Take their kids there now?
posted by Stan Chin at 5:12 PM on September 4, 2002

Oh, also, my favorite ride was the little chair that went in a vertical circle. I rode that for hours. The ball pit was also the scene of plenty of dirty fights between friends over stealing my fucking He-Man figure. Applied with the correct amount of force, using one of the plastic balls as a 'playful' bludgeoning device was many a 5-year old's personal brand of justice. Mothers always seemed blissfully unaware of these tactics.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:23 PM on September 4, 2002

Every day? There was a good post on being a Chuck E Cheese employee over on (ugh) SomethingAwful's forums a while back. The employees might clean that ball pit out every six months from the sound of it.
posted by Ryvar at 5:26 PM on September 4, 2002

I'm more fascinated by the human habitrails they've got unlike the rusted metal pipes we played on back in the day
posted by dangerman at 5:34 PM on September 4, 2002

The stage is filled with animatronic Teddy Ruxpin wannabes who play instruments and sing songs. Chuck E. Cheese, an oversized rat, is the star. Can you think of any other food service establishment that promotes having an oversized rat as its main attraction? Ritalin pizza is not available, though it should be.

Other than that: Best. Restaurant. Ever.
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:38 PM on September 4, 2002

Well, my favorite thing used to be the ball pit...
posted by ALongDecember at 6:37 PM on September 4, 2002

Mine too, until the time somebody jumped off the side into the pit and landed on my head.
posted by emmling at 6:46 PM on September 4, 2002

I never really respected the Chuck E. Cheese band until I tried to rewrite popular songs to be about pizza. Try it, it's tough.
posted by Hildago at 6:56 PM on September 4, 2002

Didn't the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do it all the time though? At least Michaelangelo, being a party dude, wrote some revolutionary air guitar riffs about the pie. Perhaps you need some mutagen, Hildago.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:03 PM on September 4, 2002

Ritalin Pizza.

Is it just me or would that be a kickass indie-band name?
posted by jonmc at 7:16 PM on September 4, 2002


"Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Chuck E. Cheese was founded in 1977 by Nolan Bushnell, the same guy who invented Pong and Atari, in San Jose, CA. Ritalin Pizza is not available, though it should be."
posted by G_Ask at 7:20 PM on September 4, 2002

that's bizarre. my last name is bushnell and i haven't seen any of the cash associated with any of those inventions. my fondest memory of the cheese is of my seventh bday party. Chuck came out to sing happy birthday to me and I started crying hysterically. Then everyone made fun of me. memories...
posted by euphrosyne at 8:18 PM on September 4, 2002

I went to a newly-opened Chuck E. Cheese for my birthday last year. Yes, I was turning 23. Yes, I took a group of friends with me.

Unfortunately, there were fewer video games than I remember, most of which had been replaced by infernal ticket-spitting games requiring more skill than anybody is capable of. Another thing I remember which seems to be missing from the Chuck E. Cheese of today is the dank. (The dank, Moe, the dank!) I remember playing many games of Road Blasters in a dark corner of the arcade, and I seem to remember the separate pizza-eating area being darker than it was when I went last year.

Unfortunately, nowadays, there's only a robotic Chuck E. Cheese, and all the other animals have been replaced by video screens. Sad, really.

There were no accidents in the ball pit this time around, but the "hamster-tube" kiddie HabitrailTM smelled like poop.
posted by manero at 8:52 PM on September 4, 2002

Chuck E. Cheese, nothing. Give me Pizza and Pipes or give me death! Long live the mighty Wurlitzer/cardboard pizza combination!
posted by majick at 9:15 PM on September 4, 2002

There's one around here that has the whole animatronic band and a stage! My family and I went there to give my little brother and daughter something fun to do. While we were eating in the dining area a fair distance away from a large birthday group, a side door opened, and out came the mouse himself, six feet tall! The children cheered, and his support (a handful of staff members who limply clapped along) guided them in enthusiastic monotone as they sang about having spirit or something.

My 2 year old daughter is NOT fond of large stuffed animals--animatronic or otherwise--I've discovered (she prefers to strum my guitar, sing, crap in cat bowls, that sort of thing). These kids, though, they just ATE IT UP. They swarmed him, got hugs, parents took pictures. Soon enough, Chuck was heading back through the doors, to where-ever it is furry humanoids go.

I'm going to take a wild guess and cite shift change, as well as lack of communication: fifteen minutes later, an entirely different staff trouped back out to the same birthday group. Those large double doors opened, and out came the mouse himself!

...More than half a foot shorter. The birthday children did not swarm, nor did they want hugs, they in fact stared at Chuck as if he were an alien. Some parents took pictures. My tactless younger brother said (a bit too loud), "Do they really think those kids are that stupid?" My mother accidentally spewed Mountain Dew on my daughter, firing off a bad habit of spitting that lingers still.

I love the 'Biz.
posted by precocious at 9:19 PM on September 4, 2002

Sure, the Cheez is fun. But if you're in the bay area check out Jungle Fun and Adventure. Haven't been to the San Jose one, but the Concord one is a blast, the habitrail is bigger than Cheezeys, and better yet parents are allowed to follow the kids. It's fun (and exhausting) to follow a 4 year old through 3 stories of habitrail.
posted by ehintz at 9:40 PM on September 4, 2002

Aiee. Make that Jungle Fun and Adventure.
posted by ehintz at 9:44 PM on September 4, 2002

I have to agree with manero...the dank is gone. I remember one kid punching in a muppet's face (a bear in a stump, I think) and it would pop out a bit later, until someone punched it in again. That and MarbleMadness and Paperboy....ball pits were for the babies. I had tickets to earn.
posted by hellinskira at 11:52 PM on September 4, 2002

Shit, I've reread and skimmed over this post for the last 5 hours, and I've just noticed I wrote "right of passage" instead of "rite of passage."

I blame it on listening to MP3s of the animatronic hell daemons singing the White Album.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:10 AM on September 5, 2002

A schoolmate of mine had a birthday party in the Toronto branch about 16 years ago... My only memory of the experience is the sealed, padded room in which children pillow fought. Under strobe lighting. Genius.
posted by dmt at 4:15 AM on September 5, 2002

Chuck E Cheese was a favorite hangout for my high school friends and I. Just some seriously nice nostalgia.

And Mitzi Mozzerella. What a piece of ass.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:55 AM on September 5, 2002

"You're the birthday, you're the birthday, you're the birthday, boy or girl!"
posted by mikrophon at 7:27 AM on September 5, 2002

WHAT?? you mean the Showbiz in Hollywood, Fla was not the only one?? and now they are in bed with Chuck E. Cheese?

Where the hell have I been?

I remember one GREAT time at showbiz... a group that I was with (I can't remember what it was now though), when I was 8 or 9 renting out the entire place for a night, we had full run of the entire place from 9pm till 8am or so, the poor souls that worked that shift spent the entire night opening up the games to hit the coin counter for free games for us all night! Something about falling asleep in the Star Wars game :-)

posted by niteHawk at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2002

I remember visiting once when I was a kid. The one near us had push-button-credit arcade games, and you just paid by the hour. I remember playing Kangaroo for an hour straight, until I had punched monkeys more than monkeys realy should be punched. That is in no way a euphemism for masturbation.

Ah, memories.
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:51 AM on September 5, 2002

And Mitzi Mozzerella. What a piece of ass.

I think it was the cheerleader outfit that did it.

Honestly though, she was the one that REALLY scared the ever-living-bejesus-hoozies out of me. I'm not sure if it was the sexual confusion over the concept of a nubile, feminine, robotic bear... but something about her/it left me scarred for life. I blame her for why I never asked out cheerleaders in high school.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2002

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