I just had Camila’s 6th birthday party at the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Hayward, CA, and I thought I’d report back for those thinking of throwing birthday parties there. She had a lot of fun and I think it was a good birthday experience. Wouldn’t be my first choice to do it again, but it’s so easy and painless that I wouldn’t fight it either.
We decided to hold Camila’s party at Chuck E. Cheese because she’d gone to a party there and she really wanted it. I was a bit concerned that it was too cheesy (pun intended) and could get expensive, but it worked out very well – probably because we had a very small party (total of 8 kids and 6 adults). I think any more than that and it could get a little crazy. The kids had a lot of fun and Camila was happy. I also only ended up spending about $150, which is probably what I would have spent if I’d had the party at home (though I’d probably had invited more kids). You can do it a bit cheaper than that, but not much.
Chuck-e-Cheese has a couple of different party packages, though they mostly vary on what goodies the birthday child gets. Offerings and prices also vary by location, apparently in other parts of the country they are much cheaper than here. Here, the cheapest package was $14 per kid and it included a reserved table, plastic crown & medallion for the birthday kid, as well as 30 seconds in their “ticket blaster” (a machine that drops tickets on the kid, which the kid can then try to pick up, and 2 small slices of pizza per kid and a drink. That’s it. No cake or anything else. They have a minimum of 4 kids per party, and I saw no reason to make reservations for more than 4 kids – as I’d have to pay $14 for the other kids just to get two measly pieces of pizza. So I just reserved for 4 kids and 8 adults, and ordered items not in the party package for the rest of the kids and adults. That worked out very well. If you sign up for their mailing list, they’ll give you a coupon for a large 1-topping pizza, 4 drinks and 40 tokens for $20, and you can use the same coupon 3 times. A couple of pizzas were enough for all the adults & extra kids, and they brought us extra cups.
The party was in every other way painless. We got there, were taken to our table (at the back of the room, where the party tables are) and met our hostess. We placed all our orders with her (she’ll take the coupons), and she brought everything we needed, from tokens to napkins. We got a birthday cake ($16 for 1/4 sheet) and a piñata ($20), and she dealt with that too (lightening the candles, cutting the cake, setting out the pinata, etc.). In other words, I didn’t have to do anything.
The food was pretty good, Chuck-e-cheese’s pizza is definitely edible and the cake wasn’t worse that most supermarket cakes.
Now, we had our party on a Sunday at 1:30 PM. Chuck-e-cheese was super crowded at the time. By 3:30-4, when we left, the place was pretty empty. So I’d say to go with a mid-afternoon party if you can. Doing it on Sunday and reserving online gives you 100 free tokens!