Sometime in the early 1980s, my family walked into ShowBiz Pizza Place and sat down at a long table in front of a stage. It was someone’s birthday, and I just barely remember that we received seashell bath soap as a favor… strange, but a little bit delightful for a young girl.
The next thing I knew, a curtain pulled back, and there he was. The biggest, blackest, hairiest gorilla I’d ever laid eyes on created a memory I’ll never forget. My heart raced as the music started and this giant beast turned his bright white, eyelid-less eyeballs in MY direction. I cowered behind my mom as more larger-than-life four-legged performers began wobbling and spinning side to side, while playing instruments and singing the loudest music I’d heard up until that point. Eventually, the show stopped, and they disappeared behind the curtain again.
I crawled out from behind my parents and walked far away from the stage to go play — eventually landing on the very best game in the building: Skee-Ball.
Many tickets, rides, and rock-concert-style performances later, we all left, full of pizza and afraid we’d never have such fun again.
Chuck E. Cheese Means Memories
From birthday parties to the selected location of a friend’s Catholic confirmation celebration, ShowBiz Pizza Place and eventually Chuck E. Cheese were a standout memory of fun in my childhood. It was common ground when I met my husband, who celebrated all of his childhood birthdays with good friends at the Chuck E. Cheese in the Chapel Hill Mall in Akron, Ohio. And we passed our love of a greasy pizza, dazzling arcade, and scary singing monsters to our kids when we hosted our daughter’s sixth birthday party at their Fairlawn location in February of 2020… just before the world shut down.
So when I received an invitation to bring the family and come check out their remodel, I was thrilled! Any night is a good night for games and a Hawaiian pizza!
The Fairlawn, Ohio Chuck E. Cheese Remodel
It’s always comforting to walk through the door and get our hands stamped. As a recovering anxious parent, I don’t mind having extra barriers between cars in parking lots and my little runners. These safety features set them apart from other kid entertainment in the area.
From a new Halo game to fresh carpet, the arcade area was gleaming. Kids were bouncing between games that sparkled in the lights as brightly as they were.
But then we saw it: a travesty.
The stage had been replaced by bold green, blue, yellow, and red shadows of the beloved scary monsters. At the center, a white projector screen showed an animated Chuck dancing with his cute, eyelid-bearing friends.
No spinning animatronics. No piano-playing apes. Just cartoons. I was devastated!
Below the missing stage lights, the same long tables were there, but chairs with backs were replaced by stools. The whirling ticket booth, reserved for birthday parties, was off to the left.
No giant mouse feet. No percussion playing chef. Was the magic gone… forever?
Fortunately, my two kids seemed to care not.
They breezed over the new interactive game floor, past the missing tubes and slides, and went right to their favorite arcade games.
A Safe And Shiny Experience
Tickets were substituted by e-balances on their game card, and stained fibers were replaced by fresh carpets.
The whole place felt… clean.
Do we go to Chuck E. Cheese for clean? Apparently, post-pandemic, we do.
The company seems to have accounted for a more hygienically-aware public in their remodel efforts, taking out Billy Bob’s Musical Ferris-wheel walls, long ropes of paper tickets, and ceiling-mounted cars you could only access on snot-covered hand and knee.
The place felt FRESH.
Family Fun For All Ages
While I’m sore on the missing nightmare-fuel performers, I have to admit that this clean arcade, with the salad bar, unlimited beverages, and pepperoni aromas wafting in from the kitchen is a great location for kids of all ages (including us soon-to-be 40-year-olds).
I actually had fun posing with my kids in the photo booth and fighting t-rex in the Jurassic Park game. And the pizza, well, it’s delicious.
If you’re looking to host an event where EVERYONE is engaged, this mouse might deliver the magic.
Fundraise At Fairlawn Chuck E. Cheese
I think Chuck E. Cheese in Fairlawn, Ohio could be an incredible spot for a PTA/PTO, sports team, or non-profit fundraiser. Right? Kids and adults get solid entertainment and melted cheese-covered carbs for a relatively low price, and your organization gets to keep up to 20%!
Why choose Chuck E. Cheese for a fundraiser?
- It’s fun for all ages now
- There’s delicious food (yummy pizza, salad bar)
- It’s cleaner (e-tickets, new updates)
- Kids easily move from game to game in a safe space (they check at the door)
- You can all sit together if you make it an event
- Kids are engaged the whole time
- You get up to 20%!
Plus they offer free meals for teachers, free promotional materials, and priceless childhood memories.
Maybe you can even still give them that nostalgic Fatz Gorilla-style fright with your over-confident exuberance on the Hammer Froggie game.
- New Library Books
- Transportation Expenses
- New Playground Equipment
- P.E. Equipment
- Transportation Expenses
And if you’re big on giving but short on ideas, consider making it a theme night:
- Dinner With Dad
- School Spirit Night
- Family Fun Night
- Parent Meeting
- Planning Meeting
Other Fundraising Resources
By the way, if you’re new to PTO/PTA life, check out another Northeast Ohio gem: my friend Christina at PTO Answers. She’s a solution maven who has created all kinds of ready-to-rock resources for parents who are trying to learn how to run a PTO or PTA or just do their part as president, treasurer, or other parent volunteers.
Christina even has lots of resources on fundraising to get you started, including a complete Fundraising Success Kit.
The kids and I thoroughly enjoyed our two hours at Chuck E. Cheese in Fairlawn, even if they ripped out the best part and replaced it with a SCREEN. Gosh, we just can’t escape them, can we?
At least this was a night where my children ignored the big screen, got moving, and had fun running around with friends to test their skills at everything from basketball to playing the piano.
And since Chuck E. Cheese kept Skee-ball, I suppose I’ll forgive them this time.