Cincinnati, Ohio

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chuck E Cheese - Colerain Ave. Cincinnati, Ohio

We recently visited the Chuck E Cheese located at 8801 Colerain Ave. in Cincinnati, Ohio. I hadn't been to this particular branch in many years. We went here to celebrate a friend's child's birthday. My husband unfortunately had to work on that day so I was on my own. I get lost easily so I was pleased with the fact that it was easy to locate from the interstate. There is a wrap around parking lot. We managed to find a spot on the front side. There is plenty of parking in the back but it means you would have a little walk to get inside. Once inside I was happy with what must have been a very serious remodel since the last time I had visited. The place is large with flashing lights and children everywhere.

Chuck E Cheese is a restaurant and arcade in one. You buy tokens upon entering and place a pizza order. They give you your tokens and a number for your table so they know where to deliver your food. They also now have a rather large salad bar. Your older children almost immediately raid you for the purchased tokens and run off into the games. They stamp the children's hands and the hands of their adult upon entry with a black light stamp. When you exit you give your hands to an attendant who checks to see if you match before allowing you to leave. This sounds good in theory but I don't know how much I trust this system. I can honestly say the huge downfall is the fact that people feel they no longer have to watch their children. Ivy is 10. I allow her to play by herself with me checking in on her frequently. I understand the need for a little independence at this age but I do not trust the rest of the world enough to completely leave her on her own for an hour or two.

We were happy with the selection of games. Ivy thoroughly enjoyed the tunnels that hang from the ceiling. There is a small toddler area roped off with a few games and a play area for them. It was small and felt crowded when only a few children were playing there with their parents in tow. Ivy collected tons of tickets but decided to save them when she saw the prize case. She said that she would rather come back later and try for a larger item because the small to medium prizes were junk. I tend to agree. They now sell "prizes" like balls instead of allowing them to be exchanged for tickets. Their prize selection area is much smaller and does not have many medium selections that would appeal to a 10 year old girl.

The food is kid friendly but not completely mom friendly. Their pizza is incredibly greasy. It did come to the table hot which is a plus. The salad bar was acceptable. It was decently well stocked for the weekend. They have unlimited refills on their drinks that you refill yourself fast food style. They have a fairly good variety of drinks.

They have a stage where large mechanical puppets put on a show. There are large tables by this that they use for birthday parties. The concept of the birthday parties is neat. They sing to the kids. A hip-hop style version of Happy Birthday. Someone in a giant mouse costume(Chuck E Cheese) comes out for this. He then crowns each birthday child with a special inflatable birthday crown. Sadly the girls working the parties were not exactly enthusiastic. Ours appeared to wish she was anywhere but here. When dealing with small children's birthday parties I feel they would be better served with happier employees. The best highlight of having a birthday party there instead of just a normal visit is the fact that the birthday child gets to go into the "ticket blaster." This is a wind machine of sorts that whirls tickets around while the child tries to catch as many as they can. This is not open to the regular public so it is a perk retained just for the birthday child which gives it a special air. It is a great marketing gimmick because every child including my own wanted to have their birthday party there at that moment because they were only allowed to watch. Children do not like to be left out of anything so I'm sure this has landed them many birthday parties. My friends daughter is still fairly small so they did allow her Dad to join her in it which I thought was nice. She seemed to enjoy it once she was in there. As a birthday party option I thought it was nice because they take care of the food, dishes, drinks, entertainment and the clean-up. They also give a balloon to each child and they have options where you can add additional tokens to your package at a lower rate so the teenagers would also have tokens to play the games. My friend also told me they gave her additional tokens for booking online. Not a bad deal for a birthday party.

Overall, I would say this is a fun family outing. I personally would take my children here to play again but perhaps skip the pizza. The tokens can get pricey. You can find coupons online for token deals and you also receive a much better price on them if you buy a large amount all at once. They really get you by your children bugging you for more and more tokens. You have to set a limit upon entry such as I'm buying X amount of tokens for each of you. When you run out of tokens you can play in the tunnels until everyone is done and then we are leaving. No questions asked. Be warned however that mom and dad will want tokens as well because this place is fun for all ages. Their bathrooms are pretty clean and they have a diaper changing station for the babies. It is in the main area of the bathroom instead of in a stall. I like them in a stall better because you are not in the flow of traffic. Oh, and don't forget your headache medicine! After an hour in here you will need it, lol.

The Details:
Cost: You can spend $10 on tokens for one kid & a short trip or $50+ for the day(Set a budget. This place can eat you alive!)
Location:  8801 Colerain Ave. in Cincinnati, Ohio
Hours -Sunday-Thursday 9am to 9pm Friday and Saturday 9am to 10pm
Phone number: 513-385-1438

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