Chuck E. Cheese – where adults can't learn to play nice

Shaggy December 10, 2008 7

At the very first arcade that I worked at, they had a large area of redemption games and of course a redemption desk. For the most part things went smoothly there but on occasion we’d get the ‘pleasure’ of watching an adult throw a larger tantrum than any spoiled child we ever saw there. While the situation never broke out into an open fight,  it would make for a crappy work shift to see some spoiled adults act like complete jerks over some stupid redemption trinkets that they would forget about before the end of the day, either because some other kid got to a prize before their child did or something else along those lines.

That doesn’t compare to this news that was published in the Wall Street Journal of all places, about a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Wisconsin where the calls to the police outnumber any other eating establishment in the area. Police cechave already broken up 12 fights there since January 2007, with the largest fight involving 40 people during a child’s birthday party. While CEC calls the fights atypical occurances, the WSJ article discusses a few other locations where fights appear to be a regular occurance and this is causing pressure on CEC’s in certain cities to change their policies regarding a few things, in particular the serving of adult beverages.

Now this surprised me! It’s been a  long time since I’ve been to a CEC but I had no idea that they started serving beer and wine in an effort to make things “more comfortable for adults”. Seeing how CEC is billed primarily as a place for kids, I can’t imagine why they ever thought that this was a good idea. The WSJ article talks about how emotions run pretty high at these sort of places where people take their kids to celebrate birthdays and naturally parents want to make sure that everything is perfect for their child but when you have several parents expecting to make the same thing happen for their child, there are going to be conflicts. Throwing in a little booze isn’t going to help soften the impact and I wouldn’t think that they would want to create a place that turns into a bar where you can take your kids. Now only 70% of CEC’s serve alcohol and from the article CEC says that they are working to deter these types of incidents since they know that it’s not good for business. We’ll have to wait and see how it works out and I do hope that they can work it out for the best, I’d hate to hear about some child being seriously hurt in one of these altercations.

[WSJ article on Chuck E. Cheese’s Trouble] [ Thanks to Jared Reas of Escapist Magazine for pointing this out [Discuss on the Forum]


  1. sweet16store December 10, 2008 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    We just got a CEC in our town. The line of people waiting to get in just about surrounds the building. It’s crazy!I had no idea that some served alcohal. How are these children getting home, by a drunk driver? Makes no sense.

  2. HeavyElectricity December 10, 2008 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Interesting. When I go to London, I frequently head into the bars in Funland and Namco Station, but I’ve never seen any problems at either location. Britain doesn’t exactly have a sane drinking culture either. Is there a chance that the problems aren’t too heavily related to alcohol?

  3. Editor December 11, 2008 at 12:08 am - Reply

    The issue seems to be more the tension of the family (single family) group at parks and entertainment venues in the US and UK – we dont see the same problems in AU or JP… yet.

    Just reported on two staff at a UK park that got beaten up by to teenagers that were asked to leave… yes alcohol again!

    To all that work in public sector jobs (dealing with people) the economic conditions means a lot of ‘angry’ people are out there, please be extra careful when dealing with them.

  4. Jet December 11, 2008 at 9:00 am - Reply

    At the Fun Expo a few years back, one of the “best practices” that was presented in one of the sessions was to have an open bar in your family fun center. Several FEC owners stated that their revenues had jumped dramatically after starting to serve alcohol. I can only guess this was partly due to the high markups of alcohol coupled with inebriated parents not being fully aware of how much money they give their kids to spend.

  5. Molloy December 11, 2008 at 10:02 am - Reply

    The bowling alleys in the US all serve alcohol as well don’t they? That’s a fairly similar environment.

    Where I’m living in Cork Ireland the bowling alley is something of an anomaly. It’s open 24/7 and is pretty much the only place in the country you can get a sneaky drink after the clubs close. I think they have some sort of club/membership system.

  6. Editor December 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hospitality and Amusement are a big issue internationally – the Ireland get round Molloy is the ‘membership fee’ aspect of serving after hors, some even wanted that loo-hole to get round the smoking ban!

    Regarding booze in entertainment – debarkation is essential, and a better idea of the levels to serve rather than the quick buck!

  7. Shaggy December 11, 2008 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I didn’t mean to say it’s all alcohol related – I think the mixture of CECs atmosphere and target audience (which is different than a bowling alley and typical FEC) combined with that don’t make for a good mix. At least the article does seem to imply that the police have seen tensions escalate when people are a little loose. It could also be the area where it’s located since obviously a few CEC’s out of a few hundred shouldn’t set the stage for the whole company but it certainly is a strange story.

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