Chuck E. Cheese is supposed to be a wonderland for kids, but according to the people who work there and places like it, "wonderland" isn't the way they'd describe it. Parents fighting, kids attacking the customers and managers that don't seem to care, it's far more "nightmare" than "wonderland," that's for sure.
In these unbelievable stories, behind the Rock-a-Fire curtain, so to speak, current and former employees admit just how horrible it can be. Especially for the poor sap in the Rat...er MOUSE costume. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"I worked as a 'showgirl' and occasionally had to wear the chuck suit. One day, we were short-staffed and I didn't have another staff member to walk me around. I got jumped on by several kids but one rowdy one punched me in the face and it cut the skin that connects my lip to my gums. It has never healed. I was bleeding bad in the Chuck suit and ran back to the closet to change out of it.
I think I pushed the kid, too, but I can't remember it hurt so bad. I quit that day."
"I was a Chuck E. Cheese 'Star Cast' Member for awhile. Fifteen minutes before I was going to leave on break, a child peed inside of the crawl tubes. There was a general manager onsite who told me if I didn't clean it up, I shouldn't bother coming back. Needless to say, I crawled up through alternating plastic floors to find out that it was not only wee, but also poo.
Since it was Chuck E. Cheese, we did not use normal cleaning products, that would have made the clean up easy. We had a non-toxic sanitizer and a pink cloth that was porous.
After spraying the poo multiple times to sanitize it, I went in to scoop it up. This was when I realized I made a terrible mistake... the poo was flowing through holes in the wipe. It was like one of those toys with the Play Doh hair. Once the job was finished, they gave me five minutes to eat lunch in the break closet."
"I worked at Chuck E. Cheese for two years. I absolutely loved it. The common thing I got was, 'How do you deal with all those bratty kids?' The answer is simple: the kids are NOT the problem. It's the adults.
So, I started during the end of the summer. When the fourth quarter came around, our busiest time of year, I volunteered to cover a friend's shift. It was my first weekend in the quarter as a birthday party host. We are at full capacity with a wait. It's freaking PACKED.
At cake time, the hosts will do a song and dance. During this delightful performance, I see a rather large woman punch another woman in the face. All of a sudden, the entire balcony is involved in this fight. Someone jumps on top of the balcony ledge and does a freaking wrestling move on someone else (all adults). Of course, there are kids around though, because it's freaking cake time! Some of the people on the floor next to the balcony are getting hit, but most everyone was able to walk away. Unfortunately, a little baby newborn ended up getting hit with something.
We only had one manager on duty and he called the cops quickly. It ended up taking several cops to break it up. Everyone's meals were comped. And ever since that incident eight years ago, Chuck E. Cheese hired county sheriffs to stand around as security from Thursday to Sunday every week."
"I was the horror story in this case. I worked at Chuck E. Cheeses, and one day, I was asked to go 'wake up Chuck' for a birthday party (this meant I had to go put on the suit and take some pictures and dance).
So I go to put on the suit and I come out to the party and the kids are so excited to see me. I did my little dance and the groups of kids wanted a picture with Chuck. I had a cold and I wasn't really feeling well, and the inside of that Chuck suit is hot. So, I passed out mid-picture and dropped to the floor. When I came to, ALL the kids were crying hysterically and yelling, 'Chuck E.'s dead!'
My coworker dragged me by my shoulders into the back room. I ruined three birthday parties that day."
"Worked at Chuck E. Cheese in Mississippi during high school as a game tech and the guy who cleans up after crappy customers.
The first week on the job working without someone watching me, I had to physically get in-between a young guy and an elderly lady while they were fighting. The lady stole three tickets from dude's daughter and threw them in her face when I told her to return them. I'm a small guy and my GM thought it was hilarious when I told him. Definitely not something I was expecting to do.
I had an overweight woman cuss me when I told her she was too large to ride a kid's ride. That one was funnier than anything!
People would always try to leave their kids while they shopped. Other people getting angry when we had to go on a wait and cussing me or the girl working at kid check.
I was taking a quick poo/check text messages/ mini break in the bathroom one day and the little kid runs into the bathroom and jiggled the stall door and I said, 'It's taken.' So he got down on his hands and knees, climbed under the door and into the stall with me. I'm like, 'Get outta here, kid!' And he just stared at me until his mom came and yelled for him to get out.
Now, the Chuck E. suit.
For the record, I was in it a lot and all the other employees said I was the best at it so I did nearly every party and show that came on when I was working. I never minded because it gave me a chance to be goofy until I had to get in it six times in a row a couple of times. The show comes on two times an hour plus whatever parties may be during that time.
I got groped on several occasions. Can't say anything or do anything because you have to stay in character.
A grown man grabbed my arm through the cracked door to the chuck e room and try to follow me in while tickling me. That was freaky because that room is pretty much sound proof. I slammed the door on his face.
There was a kid who sprint across the floor and punch me so hard that the mask got knocked sideways like in the movies. That stuff hurts so much because it rips the Velcro and inner helmet around your face.
During a busy hour, I did the show and got tackled by about 30 kids and, when the mask hit the floor, it jumped into my mouth and a sharp piece of plastic sliced the piece of flesh that connects my gums and lip completely in half. I bled all over the inside of the mask. Didn't even finish the dance, just ran back to the room."
"Not my story but my ex-girlfriend had a friend who worked at a Chuck-E-Cheese-like place in Illinois and had some pretty horrible stories.
Apparently, this place had a mini-roller coaster at one corner of the building. One of those small ones that just does a few ups and downs to make the youngest kids happy.
This friend of hers was supervising the line or the coaster itself. Some kid was riding it and somehow fell off and ended up getting run over by the machine and being shredded.
Basically, a 5 or 6 year old kid goes to CEC for a birthday party or something, but ends up being torn apart by a crappy mini-roller coaster."
"Worked there 20 years ago as a game technician. I'd get pulled out of my repair room to help understaffed areas, which I didn't really mind much. They asked me to be the rat one time. I'm 6-foot-7, so everything that was supposed to be baggy was comfortable, like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer goes to clown college.
So I walked out there, over 7' tall with the head on and wearing my own shoes since the suit ones were too small. Children started crying and running away. The poor kid who was there for his birthday pooped himself. So they immediately pulled me into the back room and got a guy from the kitchen to take over. They never asked me to do it again.
My second favorite story was the time the girl I was helping into the suit vomited in the head. So I took it from her and start carrying it outside to hose it off. Once again, the kids started crying. I guess I should have been aware that bringing the severed head of Chuck E. Cheese across the floor could cause some panic in our young customers."
"I worked in the kitchen as the crew leader, but we were such a close group of employees for whom nothing there was secret.
One time, an exotic dancer got hired for the show room and she told me that the manager used to sneak her and her dancer friends in after hours for private shows.
There was an assistant manager who got fired right before I was hired - he was known to take money out of the safe, buy a bunch of substances, flip it and then return the money to the safe later that night.
We had a gang fight. I was in the kitchen cleaning up and three guys violently spilled into the kitchen rolling around on the ground trading blows. We had an employee who was trying to leave the gang life behind and rivals had recognized his tattoos and decided to jump him. Luckily, the customer who started the fight didn't use the knife the cops found on him when they showed up.
Older kids would beat on the costumed characters all the time. I don't know what it is about those costumes that made little kids, the evil ones anyway, want to hit them. One time the girl that was in the Chuck suit came running into the kitchen crying after someone had slammed her on her back hard enough to leave a bruise.
Once, when working the ticket prize counter, a father threatened to 'break my freaking neck' because he thought I was rude to his son. Another time, I watched a man back-hand his 16-year-old daughter for an unknown reason. I did not speak their language, so I don't know what she did to get smacked. A game room employee almost got hit by a parent who was not happy about the employee stopping their delinquent child from running up and down the Skee-Ball lane.
Every day at that job was an adventure and we were always busy - weekends were usually booked solid with parties and insanely busy all day long. It was hard work, minimum wage, long hours and greasy uniforms but I made some lifelong friends and it was a great first job because it taught me how to work: There was no slacking off when we were busy, those pizza orders piled up very fast and you couldn't get behind. It was a great first job. Everyone should have to work foodservice at least once in their life.
And yes, the pizza sucked. That's what happens when you buy the cheapest ingredients possible."
"The one where I worked was apparently the best-run one in the area, so we got people coming in from up to two hours away. So we were always over capacity and under-staffed.
1) Kid pooped on the slide. Someone had to climb the slide to clean it while other kids up top kept trying to come down.
2) Don't let your kids run around barefoot. Every inch of the carpet has been covered in every bodily fluid known to man, and probably some unknown. Look at any kid wearing white socks. See how dirty they are? Those carpets are vacuumed every night, but only washed on Christmas Day (the only day we were closed).
3) I did 'kid-check' a lot because I was good at faking cheerfulness. There were three separate occasions where parents tried to beat me with their strollers (kids inside) for asking to see their stamps.
4) Holidays. The worst manager was on duty and he sent home everyone so we only had a skeleton crew. One kitchen, one game room attendant, one cashier, no kid check or showroom. He didn't stop people coming in when we hit capacity. It became as densely packed as a mosh pit. People were overflowing into the kitchen. Everyone was mad because we couldn't even get out to serve food. These three kids were camping the salad bar and just shoveling into the hard boiled eggs. They'd eat the entire pot immediately. I got stuck in the back prepping salad bar. I couldn't keep up with the egg demand. Entire stock (week's worth) was gone in an hour. Kids clogged the soda fountain drain and used token cups (fingers plugging the holes) to drink the overflowing swill. Don't know what happened after, because I was also sent home and booked every holiday off after that.
5) Just assume all your worst nightmares about the kitchen are true. The mozzarella sticks, wings and fries are straight to the oven from the freezer. They're the safest things to eat. We used to 'paint' finished pizzas with fake garlic butter. I think it was canola oil mixed with salt and MSG. Just a giant vat of that, with a big chunk sloshed all over the pizza.
6) I was never supposed to be in the Chuck E. costume, I'm too short. But once we were short-staffed, had three birthdays, etc... I got in Chuck E for the show, and a kid grabbed the nose and climbed me. I was supporting an eight-year-old's weight with my neck.
7) The cops were called every day. Birthdays make people violent and insane. Once, two birthday moms were fighting and one stole the knife from our kitchen, threatened the other mom, had it confiscated, then went back for the knife and repeated it. They were fighting over a chair. There were dozens of empty chairs five feet away.
8) Another birthday, this one with 75 adults, 50 kids started at 8:30 pm, ended at 1:30 am. We close at 11. EVERY game was displaced. Tables were flipped in the showroom. Showroom and game room 3 were 100% covered in neon pink something. One guy licked it, was frosting. The men were also constantly stealing from behind the counter, but the manager was cool with it because of how much the party was bringing in. The birthday girl? Two years old.
9) Was doing merch (ticket/prize counter). No calculators, so I was running four separate guests' accounts mentally. One guest was furious that I took longer than 0.5 seconds to deal with her constantly changing her mind and began berating me for being 'stupid' and in her day they kept people like me out of polite company, etc. Luckily my manager was beside me and ripped into her.
10) Women's bathroom always looked like a diaper, pad and toilet paper nuke went off in it, but, whatever, they're easy enough to pick up. Men's room always had poo and 1" of wee on the floor. Men's room had poo writing, poo footprints (yes, foot, not shoe) and more fun stuff. Diapers stuffed in weird gaps in the pipes where they couldn't be removed without tearing them open. Women's room = always bad, but predictably so. Men's room = either great or awful, and always a special kind of awful.
Most of the stories are just too-stupid-to-live customers though. Honestly, you stop hearing the screaming and games by your second hour into a shift."
"I worked there for five years. Here's a few of the things I can think of off the top of my head:
A couple was busted doing blow off one of the tables.
One of the servers once dropped a pizza that had just came out of the oven. He put it on the tray to take out and dropped the tray, top down, on the floor. It was busy as all get out, so the server took the spatula, went all the way around the pizza, and flipped it over. The pizza LOOKS PERFECT. He looked at it and said, 'Forget it!' and served it to the party. About 10 minutes later, he was called to the table about the pizza he brought out. They said it was the best pizza they'd ever had.
A group of adults had a birthday party for their dolls. They brought them in, bought cake, pizza, and tokens, and made the server take their order.
All the gross hooking up between the co-workers. One of the manager's kids was conceived there, in fact."
"Not Chuck E. Cheese, but when I was a teenager, I worked at a similar kid's fun place with tubes/ball pit/video games/screaming children.
As part of our elaborate play tube system, we had this really cool netted section that happened to be located directly over the area where people who had scheduled a birthday party waited to go into the special birthday room.
So, yeah, one day a little kid with bladder control issues just totally gave like 20 people an impromptu shower. Kids, moms, dads, the birthday boy; everybody got peed on.
And then I got to go search the tubes for the peeing kid who had immediately run off to hide. It wasn't hard to find her. There was literally a golden trail of urine to follow.
I wish I could say stuff like that was an isolated incident, but if there's anything I learned from my time there, it's that kids are weird and gross. On one occasion, we caught them playing the world's most disgusting game of dodgeball in the women's restroom with used tampons they found in the little trash cans from the stalls."
"Way back when I worked for Showbiz Pizza, very similar setup, I think they eventually merged with Chuck E. Cheese. Their main character was 'Billy Bob,' a singing bear. Occasionally, I had to wear the Billy Bob costume to go out to the birthday parties. Billy Bob came out when the server took out the birthday cake to the party. Most kids were fine, but there were two types that were problematic.
The first were some 'tweens,' usually boys, whose parents didn't quite accept that their darlings were a bit too old for a birthday party at Showbiz. These kids were mean, they knew it was just someone wearing the suit, and they'd hit you to try to make you yell/talk (a big no no). The suit absorbed most of that, but it did teach you to be wary of kids that age.
Worse were the occasional 3/4/5-year-olds that mom & dad would send running out in the isle to hug Billy Bob. You wouldn't think these kids would be a problem, but 'bear' with me for a minute.
First, let me explain the intricate workings of the Billy Bob costume head. First off, you looked out through the 'eyes' of the head, they were made of a very fine, see-through mesh. The problem was they were about two feet in diameter, about six feet from your head. Imagine your vision reduced to looking through two toilet paper rolls, and you'll get the idea. Serious tunnel vision. On top of that, the head actually rested on your shoulders, so your own personal head could turn inside without moving the costume head. This meant that to change your view, you had either turn your body, for right & left, or bend at the waist to look up or down. Finally, having your head fully enclosed, and being in a very noisy environment, with people talking, kids yelling, music playing, and arcade and skee-ball games making a racket, let's just say that your hearing wasn't the best either.
So anyway, I'd be done with the party, and be be-boppin' down the aisle to head back to change out of the costume, when bam, I'd run into something that, unsurprisingly, I couldn't see. Ok, back up a step or two, bend at the waist to look down, and there, sitting on floor, was a surprised and usually close to tears toddler. They had run into the aisle (below my range of vision), thrown open their arms, and said 'Billy Bob!' Which, of course, I couldn't hear. They were expecting a hug, but instead ole Billy Bob just ran into them and knocked them down. Of course, you're not allowed to say anything, because you can't do the Billy Bob voice. Do you know how hard it is to pantomime 'Billy Bob is so sorry he ran into you?' I'd feel awful because the poor kids always looked so hurt, not so much being knocked down, but that Billy Bob didn't notice them. Bet some of them went on to become early cynics about Santa Claus, too."
"I've been working at one for over two years now. I've had kids push me and kick me while in the suit, but one kid stood out. I was walking around when this little Mexican kid came up and, as Bloodhound Gang would say it, starts kneading my balls like hard-boiled eggs in a tube sock. He kept repeating himself as he did it, 'El ratón! El ratón!' All while his whole family was sitting nearby, watching him pull this as they laugh their butts off. I was so infuriated. He continued this all the way up to where I would dance and throw tickets, but I decided to say forget it, and I just walked away and got out of the suit. No tickets this time, fool!
The only other time I just walked away from all the kids while in the suit was because the oldest kid there (12 or 13) just kept running into me. At first, I thought maybe he tripped or got pushed, but he looked me in the eyes and kept on doing it, and he had the other kids laughing, giving him approval. I decided I'm not dealing with this, and just walked away. When I got out of the suit and back in the game room, I noticed his mom was talking to him about it while he was crying. That's right, sucker! Learn how to not be a jerk."