We went from living in a Dave and Buster’s town to living in a Chuck E. Cheese town…
Loss for Sid and I; win for Sloan and Beau. Right? Well, I don’t equate my level of happiness with access to arcade games and skee-ball so please don’t feel too bad for me.
It is mildly amusing though that Myrtle Beach had the monopoly on the ultimate adult arcade experience and Spokane seemingly has the upper hand with children as it boasts multiple Chuck E. Cheese fun centers.
Just before the libraries re-opened, Chucky decided it was time to invite all the kids and their parents back. It was another one of those small victory moments when you could sense the tide turning with respect to the Coronavirus.
By the time Chuck E. Cheese re-opened, Sloan was chomping at the bit to go. We had driven by the two Spokane locations so many times and she had watched countless Chuck E. Cheese-related YouTube videos that she couldn’t wait to get inside and meet the Mouse himself.
As a little boy growing up in Spokane there was nothing more rewarding than when my parents would take me to Chuck E. Cheese. There used to be a location in the Shadle Park Shopping Center and in my day that was ground zero for where “a kid could be a kid.” There was no cooler place to have a birthday party or spend a day of spring break than at Chuck E. Cheese.
So, yes, I was a little nostalgic when I took Sloan to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time. But once we walked through the doors that nostalgia turned to mild panic as I tried to navigate the changes that have taken place over the years (or decades).
You no longer get a stamp to ensure that you leave with the people you came with. Instead, you just take a selfie. To play games, it is no longer as simple as feeding the token machine dollar bills. Rather, you select between different packages at the front counter. Once you choose your package, don’t expect to receive any of the coveted Chuck E. Cheese tokens you could no longer get at the token machine—like with most arcades, everything is now placed on a play card.
But after the shock wore off and I could quickly evaluate the changes made since 1999, it was obvious that they were made to improve the experience. I don’t think it is even more obvious than with the packages. You can still select a package that let’s you pay per game OR you can choose one based on time. The latter is what I have done with Sloan both times we have gone.
I pay $13 for a 30-minute pass. During that half hour, Sloan can play all the games as many times as she wants. It doesn’t matter if it is a ride, a redemption game, or the latest arcade game, she has access to it all courtesy of the $13 paid upfront. You can pay for longer time periods but the half hour option has worked out perfectly for us both visits. Not only does it satisfy Sloan’s energy level as we zip around the facility playing as many games as possible but it also satisfies my wallet.
Other changes I have noticed since “back in the day” include kiosks that will take your picture, ice cream vending machines set up on the play floor, and Blue Moon beer on tap. Dang, Chuck E. Cheese really has evolved, huh?
In a day and age where entertainment options are still limited for toddlers in these waning days of the pandemic, Chuck E. Cheese has proven to be a great place to expel some energy. Don’t Blink.