If you grew up in Portland, you probably had a birthday party (or seven) at Chuck E Cheese. While Chuck E Cheese is not exclusive to Portland (in fact, they are an international restaurant) when I think back on my childhood in Portland, Oregon, Chuck E Cheese comes to the forefront.
I remember going to the location on 91st and Powell. Chuck E Cheese and his robotic gang came too life! I was so delighted. I remember clapping my hands and laughing. I remember Chuck E calling me, little ole me, to the front of the restaurant where he and his robotic friends sang happy birthday to me. I knew they weren’t real, but I wasn’t quite sure just how they were able to do it.
The tables were long rectangles and were able to seat many friends. The pizza was greasy and delicious. And the ball pit. Who didn’t love that ball pit? Diving and jumping and running and playing. I could have spent the whole day there. Skee Ball and other video games and, of course, Chuck E Cheese himself walking around only added to the experience.
But did it hold up after all of these years?
That was a question I was looking to answer when my friend Charlie invited my wife and kids along for his sons’ sixth birthday party. When I found out that it would be at Chuck E Cheese, I was filled with mixed emotions: Elation and trepidation.
See, I was worried that my childhood memories would be skewed by the skepticism of adulthood. I wanted to remember the food as delicious, the music as fun and superfluous and the experience in general to be enjoyable.
I had no reason to worry. While Chuck E. Cheese has evolved with the times and added new rides, games, and technologies, they also still do what they do best: Entertain and feed children.
Watching my kids run and jump in the ball pit and soar in the airplane ride filled me with pride and happiness. I imagine that these feelings were in line with what my own parents felt when I would go to Chuck E Cheese as a kid.
And, turns out, my wife and I are still super amazing at Whack-A-Mole and Skee Ball. We won so many tickets. I remember as a kid saving these tickets up for the best prize I could get. This time, we gave the tickets to our kids. They’re pooling them and plan to come back and get the biggest and best prize available.
Between the tasty pizza, the wholesome entertainment and the awesome games—Chuck E Cheese is a great piece of nostalgia and childlike joy. It may not be exclusive to Portland but, with three locations all around the Portland/Metropolitan area (Portland, Beaverton, Vancouver), it’s another great advantage to living in this great city.