What do you do when all the grandkids come to visit you at your small apartment for a couple of days, the rain is pouring, and the “natives are getting restless?” We love to head for Chuck E. Cheese.
I’m not going to tell you it’s the cheapest grandkid date in town. McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A are cheaper, and they are high on my list as well!
Chuck E. Cheese, however, combines the climbing fun of a McDonald’s playland and the game-playing fun of an arcade. It even has a hint of the ride fun of Disneyland, all wrapped up into one great mouse-hugging time for grandma and grandkids. And if you compare the cost of a date there to one to the big D (Disneyland), it is quite cheap!
One of the best things about them is their focus on safety. Each person gets their hand stamped with a special matching stamp for their whole group. Now mind you, I still do count heads constantly. That’s just who I am. But I also can sit and nibble carrots from the fresh salad bar, while they have fun playing games and accumulating tickets to buy the extremely cheap, yet immensely satisfying little toys. Not only that, when they run out of tokens, they’ve got an awesome playland-style climbing gym that’s wonderfully free.
Some of my best tips for a fun time there:
- Go Monday – Friday between 10-12 in the morning. It’s usually fairly empty. Even if a day care group or a mom’s group comes, it’s still not that crowded. (When schools are out, that may change a bit. You could call in advance to see if there are a lot of events scheduled.)
- If you help with your grandkids’ home schooling program, it’s a great place to go to as a reward for a month of hard work and good behavior; learning something extra-difficult like all their times tables, or maybe even a get-together for the whole home school group to compare notes, plan for the year, and socialize while the kids play.
- Pick a table on the end in the center (I try to get the same one each time) and put something they will easily recognize as yours on it . I always tell them if they can’t find me and need me, go find our table and stand on the seat and wave til I spot them. We’ve only needed that twice but it worked great both times.
- Air Hockey is wonderful for almost all ages . And it really makes the 25 cent tokens last a long time. On the other hand, the games where they just put in a quarter to see if it lands somewhere they want EAT those quarters faster than you can say “Grandma, can I have more tokens!” I’ve started limiting those to just a couple, even if they do pay out in lots of tickets!
- Our Chuck E. Cheese has a fun car ride that takes a picture of them while they ride . Sometimes I stand behind them to get my pix with each of them. It makes a fun addition to the photo album.
- If all your little ones are younger, you’ll be happy to know that they have a semi-enclosed tot’s section as well. Mine includes tables so we can eat right there and keep a closer eye on them.
- One caveat – it is rarely quiet . If noise bothers you, go as close to opening as you can, when it will be about the quietest.
- If you have a grandkid who is scared of larger-than-life dressed up characters, like you often see at Disneyland, be forewarned. A giant mouse by the name of Chuck E. Cheese does wander around. While most of our grandkids will absolutely love him, it’s good to know in advance if you have a shy one.
- If you go to the Chuck E Cheese website , you can sign up to get free email with lots of great token and pizza deals. They also have a variety of token and pizza deals when you get there.
Whatever the age, Chuck E. Cheese is a fun place for the grandkids AND the grandparents . We always have a blast inside, even if it’s raining outside! And the pizza is yummy too!
For more articles about family fun, from more tips for traveling with grandkids to frugal shopping tips for grandkids , visit FamilyFriday at HomemakerBarbi .