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« Inspiration Sans Cheese | Main | A Rockin' Good Tooth Brushin' Time »

May 17, 2005


Jim Wilde


As a father of three, I know your pain! Things do and well get better. Anyway, check out Dave & Buster's.


There used to be a place called DISCOVERY ZONE in my city but it is now gone. There is still a place called CELEBRATION STATION - and it appears to do well. These are BOTH still "kid intense" places -- the marketers KNOW that the kids will drag the adults there AND they know that many adults will drag their kids there and turn them loose (and put int he ear plugs). Don't know of a place that is both kid fun and adult fun.


It's amazing that yesterday I was thinking of this very thing. I'm mother with a six month old, and yesterday was dreaming of her future career, college, grade schools, and yes, her parties as well. (I figure I should just do my job and plan out her future, the earlier the better, right!.) Where would she like have her parties? Where would I like to take her for a party?

That lead me to wonder about McDonalds. My mother held parties for me at the famous and very popular family hang out with the cool multi-colored balls and friendly red-headed buddy. Adults seemed to enjoy it as much as we did, maybe that is why we were repeat customers. Now I wouldn't think of going to McDonalds let alone bring my child, for a party or anyone else's party. It seems to me that McDonalds is no longer interested in me or my family. So where else to go but Chuck E Cheese.

Bill Seitz

There is no ChuckECheese in Manhattan.

(Instead you end up at Chelsea Piers for bowling. It's the law.)

Andy Havens

Katherine: normally I love your stuff, but I gotta say you're off the mark on this one. I, too, loathe Charles E Fromage, as we call him in my house. Code is needed, because if his name is spoken aloud in the presence of the smalls, the pilgrimage to the House of Rat must be made. But there are 3 things you're missing in your analysis.

1. You aren't the customer. Your kids are. If you liked it more, they'd probably like it less. The experience you describe is available. It's called "Starbucks." And it's where grownups get to live most of the time. When I was a kid, I dragged my folks to a bunch of lame places I'm sure they loathed. But I also had to go to church (of which I now am glad), camping (same), relatives (ditto), car shows (still hate), boat shows (more hating), RV shows (most hateful), about a million picnics and social events that I can't remember what the heck they were for, etc., weddings, their friends' kids' mitzvahs, etc. The kids like it. I think the fact that we hate it is part of the attraction.

2. If you shop for party time at Chuck's the same as you do other shopping -- i.e., with some smarts -- you'll do lots better. I now take a half-day off and do the party at Cheese's House as a late-lunch on a Tuesday afternoon from 2pm - 4:30ish. Almost deserted. If you ask nice, they'll turn down the music and (sometimes) turn off the animademonics. If, however, you go on Saturday at noon... You get what you deserve.

3. Preparation: a) Over the counter pharmaceuticals. Find a good antihistamine. Triple the recommended dosage. b) iPod. You can't hear a damn thing anyway; plug in, crank up, and tune out. I recommend AC/DC or Pink Floyd. Highly surreal. c) Dress the chillun in very, very distinct clothing. Bright orange top with flourescent green stripes, brite white sweat pants and sneaks that flash.

Lastly, and this is bonus faux wisdom, just lean back and grok the whole she-bang-a-bang. It is what it is. In a few years, the kids will be wanting a Vespa and beers. Watch them OD on bad pizza, Cokes and ball pits. Check out how much cuter yours is compared to all the other bizzaro-kids. Whack-a-mole or two yourself.

I hate the place. Hate, hate, hate. But my son loves it to death. And there aren't that many places he goes ape over. If they changed it, my fear is that we'd lose something he's clearly 100% into. And that ain't good marketing.

Harry Joiner

Actually, there is a more upscale version of Chuck E. Cheese. It's called Startime. You can read about it at the link to my name at the end of this post.


They already do, it's called Dave and Busters.


While I do agree with the comment that CEC markets to kids, not parents, I will also add another alternative:


"No way! Jillian's is for adults!" you might think if your experience with this adult-oriented indoor entertainment zone is in a large city or university town.

But in my town (Green Bay, Wis., population 100K or so), the downtown Jillian's very quickly became the accepted alternative to CEC, mainly because parents here take their kids everywhere with them, and any business that wants to do well must welcome them.

It was a real change in atmosphere for the corporate-trained franchise manager, who learned pretty quickly that promoting kids' parties in the dead hours of late morning through early evening brought in unexpected revenue.

The place has since closed for other reasons, and I know a lot of parents miss it. So do we. My 10-year-old still misses it and preferred it to CEC. Costs were about the same but a lot less wear and tear on the parental nerves.

Funny you should raise this comment, because my son's school is doing a fund-raiser there next week, and a friend and I are debating whether to bite the bullet and go or just write a check to cover whatever the school would have earned from our dinner checks.


A place we have in the Smokies called The Factory is better than any CEC, D&B or Jillian's. They are very affordable and they have more things to do than any of the other places. Once you've gone to the Factory, you will not even compare what family entertainment places should be like.

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