Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chuck E. Cheese Please

Thanks to their incessant advertising on the various children's television networks, the eldest child, our dear Jacqueline has been requesting a trip to Chuck E. Cheese for about six months. Since we drive past it routinely, we get asked about it just as routinely. Today with the dreary cold weather, and the bleak frozen wasteland of a yard preventing any real time outside, I decided to bite the bullet and take the family for a trip out there to A) wear her down for her nap, and B) either curb the requests, or double them, not sure yet how that is going to work out yet.

I dutifully clipped coupons for a pizza deal, and 20% off some tokens, helped Alison get the kids ready, and off we were to the Bridgewater version of what I thought for certain would be adult hell on earth.

It was not quite hell on earth, not by a long shot. By some measures it might have even been pleasant. In my haste to make a decision for the day trip however, I did make one miscalculation. I never contemplated the sheer volume of birthday party kids that might be present at say 1 PM on a Saturday afternoon. It was pretty chaotic when we first arrived, any design on maybe skipping pizza for the second day in a row and settling on a healthy option from the menu went out the window when we saw the sheer volume of toddlers present in the play area. We just made the quickest decision possible, the pizza pack, bought some tokens and went on a search for a seat.

We found a table, unpacked and I took Jackie around for a pass of the game area. We played a few games including this age appropriate gem.

Around that time the parties got called in, so mercifully the floor cleared, and we played a few of the ticket dispensing games. I was a bit disappointed that there seemed to be a four or 5 ticket cap on each game. This prevents me from parking at the ski ball on future trips and clearing them out of tickets and prizes, a major dissapointment for sure. Jackie didn't quite get the grasp of ski-ball or some of the other ball tossing activities, but she had a great time. The pizza arrived and was better than expected, we played a few more games, let Jackie crawl through the rat habitat they had hung from the ceiling, and we escaped with our sanity and a pile of tokens, we bought way too many with the coupon we had, so we have just prepaid for three or four more trips to the place. Good thing it's close.

I will add that from the reviews on sites like yelp, this appears to be one of the better franchises. I would confirm this, but it's really my first experience in one of these places. It was clean, the staff was friendly and attentive, the games are cheap, the food was edible and better than expected. We shall return. Birthday parties, are probably not in the cards though. The Chucky Cheese character walking around had body language that reminded me of Will Ferrell's ill fated turn at ice capades in the movie Blades of Glory. Then when I expected a bad animatronic rat to be revealed behind the stage curtain they had set up in the party area, which was visible from the entire restaurant, and got precisely what I expected, it seemed a little worse than lame. Kids might not notice, but I don't think I could subject other adults to such things involuntarily.Whatever happened to the good old days of parties at roller rinks. Now that was entertainment.
Playing some kind of game or another, a limit of four tickets is the universal prize. This seems like some sort of everyone gets a trophy and is a precious snowflake type deal.

Can't really describe how thrilled she was to be there, it's a kid thing I guess.

Enjoying some pepperoni pizza

Helping Jackie steer the snowmobile, we won first place

Scurrying through the rat tunnels

This retrofit was a bit strange

She was moving to quick for the camera

Jackie had a great time and Catherine cooperated, what more could parents ask for?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dark Lord of Cuddles

The force is strong with this birthday gift from Uncle Joe and Aunt Lara.

Jackie soundly sleeping with a variety of Lucasfilm and Pixar properties