Chuck E. Cheese Is To Disney World What Atlantic City Is To Vegas

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shutterstock_97743584__1383362560_142.196.156.251I’m a recent transplant to Orlando, by way of Brooklyn, New York. Orlando is where joy lives if you’re a kid. Mickey Mouse and the gang, Universal Studios, amazing water parks, Sea World, Legoland… the list goes on. For my son’s third birthday yesterday, we should have had no problem finding a place to go, right? Wrong.

You basically have to be a trust-fund baby to get into Disneyland, but I’m going to write a more in-depth post about that tomorrow. We are very strapped for cash. Our child is three, so he’s probably not going to last for more than three hours anywhere anyway. There was no way we were up to making the financial commitment it takes to go to any of the main attractions in Orlando. As we were discussing this, we hear our child say, Chuck E. Cheese! A commercial had come on and caught his eye. It was as if the voice of God herself came down and whispered, come hither, parents. Chuck E. Cheese has free admission. 

There’s nothing wrong with Atlantic City – but it’s no Vegas. If you have Vegas as a reference, dare I say Atlantic City can be a tad depressing? Do you see where I am going with this? In a city filled with Mickey, Harry Potter, and freaking Cinderella – who the hell wants to be entertained by Chuck E. Cheese? My son. Because he has no idea Disney World exists. Disney World is Vegas. Chuck E. Cheese is Atlantic City. But not the good Atlantic City. The five-cent slot section of the Tropicana.

We drive into the parking lot and quickly notice that we are the only ones in it. Well, except the cook. Chuck E. Cheese has a kitchen which mostly pumps out pizza. The cook is smoking outside, wearing her plastic gloves – you know, the ones that are supposed to be sterile for handling food. Yeah. She’s smoking in those.

We go inside and the person who stamps your hand so everyone leaves with the right child looks at us and smiles. We enter. We are the only ones there. My son wanders around, looking relatively bored, but occasionally climbing into one of those little cars that sort of lunges forward but doesn’t really go anywhere. I realize we could have driven to Publix and hung out there for this.

Chuck E. Cheese comes out. He zooms past my child – the only child in the place. My child follows him. Chuck reaches into a drawer by the front door and grabs a stack of Chuck E. Cheese tickets – the ones you win when you play the games. They are redeemable for a bunch of crap you could buy by the pound at the dollar store. Each piece of crap represents about 20 minutes and seven dollars spent on games. My son puts out his hand to receive them and Chuck fucking throws them all over the floor; sort of like 52 pick-up, the lamest card game ever invented. My son isn’t a sucker, so he walks away from the shit-storm of tickets.

We do one more lap around the place for good measure, and walk past a salad bar. A salad bar. I can’t think of a worse choice for an establishment that is meant to be crawling with small kids who – if they are wiling to be entertained by this knock off in the City of Joy – clearly don’t know how to cover their mouths when they cough yet. I’m disgusted – my son is bored. It’s time to go.

If you are strapped for cash and consider entertaining your child at Chuck E. Cheese, make sure you live a city where there are absolutely zero other options. Atlantic City is way easier to enjoy when you forget that Vegas exists.

(photo: SeanPavonePhoto/ Shutterstock)