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Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Party Review 2023

Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Party Review 2023

Recently my wife and I attended a kids birthday party for a friend. Their son was turning 5 years old, and they wanted to give him a good time. A handful of places might cross your mind when you start thinking about planning and birthdays for kids under 5, but one is a standout right? Chuck E. Cheese. It’s a place that almost everyone has experienced at some point, and naturally, our friends decided to have their party there.

Note: This Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Party review will be helpful for anyone out there considering the venue for an upcoming kids party.

I hadn’t been to a Chuck E. Cheese in 20 years..

You read that right… when I heard that we were going to Chuck E. Cheese for this birthday party I had to dig deep to remember what kind of place it was. To my amazement I hadn’t forgotten everything, I could still recall my love for the big rat and his establishment. I think the last time I went was probably for one of my own birthday parties back in the late 90’s. I’ll tell you what popped into my mind… the memories of a 7- or 8-year-old.

  • Chuck E. Cheese himself in his mascot-like glory, wearing a purple jersey?
  • A colorful ball pit, all your primary colors on that color wheel
  • Cafeteria tables lined up in front of a performance stage
  • An animatronic robot band that played songs and moved around
  • A huge indoor play place or gym with tubes and slides
  • Big pizza slices I couldn’t get enough of

I just had glimpses though, a few things that stuck with me over the years. I couldn’t piece together the whole picture. I wasn’t sure how big the indoor play structures were back then, how they served the food, or how the service really worked inside, and it’d been 20 years…how could it possibly be the same? Really, I had no idea what to expect. This isn’t something that stressed me out or anything, but I was curious what Chuck E. Cheese was in 2023.

I knew it’d still be a fun place for kid parties, but would it still be affordable? Would it be as fun as I remember it being for my son? Would he be able to play inside the big tubes and climb things as a young toddler? There were a lot of questions I knew I’d get answers to here pretty quick.

I was a bit worried that there would be too many bigger kids running around that’d be just trampling our baby the whole time.

What was it like when we got there?

From the parking lot it was pretty much the same, their logo with Chuck E. Cheese’s picture had changed a little bit, but otherwise it looked pretty close to what I remembered.

Once we walked in the doors though, that is a whole different story. I could not recognize the place on the inside. It was basically one big open floor with something like a 1,500 sq ft arcade space.

It was clear the setup was for smaller kids because most of the machines were very low to the ground and everything was scaled down so young kids could easily reach and play on their own. It was good for me as a parent because at my height I could see the entire room and the arcade machines were low enough to the ground to see around, they had situated it so that it would always be easy to spot your kids wherever they were inside.

When we walked in, we received game cards to use inside, basically our friends had paid for one of their party packages so all of the guests were supposed to get a couple hours of free gameplay on all of the game machines. The cards were attached to stretchy bracelets I think to help kids keep up with them as they ran around from machine to machine, definitely a thoughtful touch because those cards would have been getting lost left and right if they were loose.

Thinking back, I didn’t remember much of an arcade being at Chuck E. Cheese as a kid and they had almost 100% removed the physical play structures they had back in the 90’s. This Chuck E. Cheese had just one play structure and I estimate it was just about 10 ft long x 4 ft wide x 12 ft tall, it was really small but kind of a cool thing to climb, take a look:

Chuck E. Cheese Play Structure 2023

I was kind of disappointed about that change, and decided to dig in a little bit to see what I wasn’t remembering.  

I learned that back in 1999, Chuck E. Cheese play structures had multi-level climbing areas, slides, tunnels, and interactive elements. They were designed to mimic a jungle or adventure theme, with vibrant colors, padded surfaces, and fun obstacles for children to navigate through. The structures allowed kids to climb, crawl, slide, and engage in imaginative play.

The jungle gym-type play areas were typically divided into different sections, catering to different age groups and ensuring that children of all ages could find activities suited to their abilities. The larger play areas offered a mix of challenging obstacles and playful elements, while smaller play areas were designed specifically for younger children, often with smaller slides and interactive panels.

Chuck E. Cheese phased out jungle-gym structures through the 2010s and has since been prioritizing modernized arcade games, virtual reality, and augmented reality experiences. Supposedly, this lines up with preferences of kids and families these days.

The pandemic strikes again

I’ll admit it makes sense; people are more concerned with health these days and all kinds of kids running around inside tubes and tunnels playing with the same wheels and drooling into the same ball pits…that’s not something many parents are going to be excited about after COVID19. Thinking about it now, I’ll bet Chuck E. Cheese took some serious losses over the course of the pandemic and had to make big changes to keep their doors open (where it was possible).

Chuck E. Cheese Ball Pit 1999

Ball Pit I remember trudging though in the 90s

Chuck E. Cheese Ball Retrieval 2023

Ball retrieval machine my son will remember (we managed to snag 2 of these)

You won’t find ball pits at all in Chuck E. Cheese anymore; they’re challenging to maintain and keep clean, making them susceptible to the accumulation of germs. They were phased out a while back, much to the delight of those who discourage fun (kidding).

It’s much easier for Chuck E. Cheese staff to consistently sanitize arcade machines than a large multi-level gym structure with little cubby holes and hidden nooks all throughout.

Touching all the same arcade buttons and controls as other kids doesn’t sound particularly sanitary to me either but thinking with my dad cap on, it does sound like it’d be easier to keep clean than the old ball pits and slides, and that gives me a little bit more peace of mind – I don’t want to wake up the next day to a fever baby.

At the new Chuck E. Cheese, my son had a great time playing with the toddler-size arcade machines and I worked with him from station to station. We played air hockey, the claw machine, whack-a-gator, and sprayed some ducklings with water. Here’s a couple shots from the party –

Chuck E. Cheese Toddler Air Hockey 2023

Davis kept stealing my slider and didn’t care much for the puck, but we had a good time.

Chuck E. Cheese Arcade Machine 2023

Were there other noticeable changes?

Yea, the play area wasn’t the only thing that looked different to me.

Chuck E. Cheese himself, was not the rat I remember. No, he had gone on a diet clearly and he looked more like a mouse. His face had been transformed. Apparently, Chuck E. Cheese had gone through a whole rebrand, he needed to change his image. He wasn’t “with it” anymore, not really a new thing for Charles though.

Chuck E. Cheese Mascot Timeline Graphic

Forget the Spider-Verse we’re in the Chuck E. Cheese-Verse, the mascot suit’s are much much different than they were in the early years. The new mascot cartoon and costume have a really friendly and inviting look to them, I think they did good on this rendition. In person the big Chuck E. Cheese helmet looks good too, not all ratty and ragged like 1999 Chuck.

The other big change I noticed inside was the cafeteria or seating space and the performance stage. When I was a kid they had a literal stage with curtains, I remember sneaking up and peaking behind the curtains to see what was back there and discovering their “performers”. Their famous robot band, back then I think they would run the show on a timer and the on-stage machines would go wild with their Chuck E. Cheese songs. Admittedly, they were pretty weird – I remember them being ragged and definitely creepy when I was peaking at them behind the curtains between performances.

When we visited recently, they didn’t have a stage or curtains like the old days, what they did have was a big screen on the wall and on the ground. The seating area was similar to when I was a kid, long cafeteria-esque tables where kids and their friends can all sit down and eat. The tables led right up to the big video screen.

Chuck E. Cheese Parties Dining Area 2023

What they did was play various kids-bop kind of music videos, current pop-songs reworked for kids, and then other puppet/muppet kind of character videos from the Chuck E. Cheese universe I presumed.

What did they do for the birthday boy?

The robot band was no more, and when it came time to give kids the birthday treatment and experience, they had some staff and the big mouse come out. They did some things on the big interactive video floor mat and sang songs for the birthday boy and friends/family.

Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Song 2023

The kids seemed to be into it and it was high energy, I give the employees there credit as they did a good job getting the kids fired up and engaged.

Chuck E. Cheese phased out the robotic performers through the 2010s too and they’ve actually replaced them with live performers at some locations from what I’ve heard. We didn’t see any kind of live performance or band when we visited but they may still have those experiences at other locations.

How much will a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party set you back?

The cost of a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese can vary based on some factors such as the package selected, the number of children attending, additional add-ons, and the location.

Typically, the pricing starts at a base rate for a certain number of guests, and additional charges apply for extra guests. You will want to contact your local Chuck E. Cheese or visit their website to get accurate pricing.

They offer three party packages

  1. Classic Party Package: This package typically includes a reserved table or party area, a dedicated host, pizza, beverages, game tokens for each child, a Chuck E. Cheese appearance, and a special birthday shout-out during the show.
  2. Super Party Package: In addition to the features of the Classic Party Package, the Super Party Package may include additional game tokens, goody bags for each child, and access to the Ticket Blaster experience, where kids can grab as many tickets as possible.
  3. Mega Super Party Package: This premium package may include all the offerings of the Super Party Package, along with more game tokens, goody bags, and an upgraded birthday cake. It may also provide access to exclusive attractions or experiences, such as unlimited playtime in the Play Pass areas or access to premium games and rides.

To give you an idea on the price tag to host a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese with the Mega Super Party Package, you’re looking at a price of $289.90 for 10 kids and 15 adults. That basically gives all the kids unlimited arcade gameplay for the extent of the party.

Keep in mind that the above price is from my local Chuck E. Cheese and it’ll almost certainly be different depending on where you live.

Don’t forget about the food

I remembered the pizza being delicious from when I was a kid and the slices being big too. Visiting now in 2023 as an adult, I’d say my memory was half right. The pizza did taste delicious as ever…but the slices, those were small. Be prepared to eat several slices of pizza to fill up if you’re going to eat there as an adult, the good news is you’ll be motivated because they’re good.

Chuck E. Cheese has changed

Chuck E. Cheese has worked to modernize and provide an engaging, and diverse range of services and experiences through the pandemic and come out of it with more simple and lean facilities.

  • Services for kids’ parties have expanded, offering different party packages to accommodate various budgets and preferences.
  • The play area is now an arcade, there’s much more emphasis on interactive experiences, such as virtual reality games, augmented reality attractions, and modernized arcade games.
  • Animatronic characters have been updated or replaced with video and live performers in some cases.
  • Digital integration is present, with the introduction of smartphone apps for game play and ticket redemption.
  • Safety measures have been updated, including improved security systems and protocols to ensure the well-being of guests.
  • Chuck E. Cheese has also started more environmentally friendly practices, such as energy-efficient lighting and recycling.
  • The brand has expanded its offerings to cater to a wider audience, including menu options for adults and additional entertainment options like bowling and laser tag in some locations.
  • Online booking and reservation systems have been introduced, allowing for a more convenient experience when party planning.

Overall, I found the new Chuck E. Cheese experience was still good. I would have liked for them to have more activities that encouraged physical play and development of motor skills like they did back when I was young but I understand why the shift has taken place.

My son enjoyed running around and playing with the arcade machines even as a baby, I appreciated that they had small machines that he could reach and enjoy.

It is probably a lot more cost effective for them to launch new locations without robotic performers and large jungle-gym fortresses – I’m sure those things were big expenses and may have made it cost prohibitive for many potential franchisees.

Chuck E. Cheese did not blow my socks off though, I got some pretty basic arcade vibes at our local spot.

  • Lighting was pretty normal, lots of natural light and windows around.
  • The arcade looked quite small and that was really the main activity available for the kids.
  • The actual mascot made an appearance but didn’t do too much outside of singing the birthday song.


If you recently visited Chuck E. Cheese for the first time, I would greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts on the experience. Please feel free to leave a comment below! I hope my Chuck E. Cheese birthday party review proves helpful for you in your parting planning endeavors.

Posted by Alex Casey in Reviews, 0 comments