An Open Letter to Chuck E. Cheese


From fyzhnkiizt
my mailbox — with a lot of good points.

To whom it may concern:

First of all,  please let me say that I experienced excellent customer service at the Paramus,  NJ location. The facility was clean,  employees friendly and patient,  and I have nothing negative to say about my specific experience.

I’m writing to voice a complaint about the policies a Chuck E. Cheese.  I find it humiliating,  distrustful and sad that in order to take my children in we must be stamped and tagged upon entrance and verified upon exit.  It suggests that kidnappings and abductions are a regular occurrence.

Add to that, the first three rules and regulations, posted in large print at the entrance, refer directly to gang and gun violence,  plus next to that sign is a picture of  a handgun with text explaining that weapons are prohibited…

Either Chuck E.  Cheese experiences enough violence and child abductions that such signs and policies are necessary, or the level of fabricated hysteria in the name of perceived safety and/or legal liability is so high that your company finds it  profitable to convince parents that their children are in constant danger.

Whichever it is, my family has no interest in supporting your company. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.


Ariana B.

P. S.  my husband, who has been coming to Chuck E. Cheese since about 1984 wishes it were more like it used to be there were fewer tv screens, better  stage shows and fewer gimmicks.

Lenore here: What I like about this letter is standing up to the way “security creep” becomes just everyday reality. Just as the TSA makes it seem as if we MUST pat down every grandma in a wheelchair or fall from the skies, so the ubiquity of handstamping makes it feel as if otherwise kids were being snapped up like free samples at Shoprite. The more we accept this kind of security theater as normal, the less secure we feel and act. So kudos to Ariana for writing to the big cheese.


Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!

New slogan: “Where a kid can’t be kidnapped!”

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126 Responses to An Open Letter to Chuck E. Cheese

  1. Richard Stanford September 1, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    I don’t believe I’d ever be saying this, but “In Chuck-e-Cheese’s defense…”

    We’re far from regulars. I think we’ve gone 5-6 times for other kids’ birthdays between our two girls. There were times though when each of the kids were younger than I’d want to be off roaming around with their friends safely, but I let them – precisely because of that policy. Not to prevent abductions, but to prevent a 3yo wandering away on an adventure.

    Without tagging, and with the constant in-and-out, they wouldn’t know if a kid was leaving with their family or was tagging after a new best friend they’d just met who didn’t even know they were there – or who’s parents assumed they were with the folk behind them.

    Heavy handed? Possibly, but it may fall into the backpack-with-leash category – giving more freedom rather than less. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Matt Hentrich September 1, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    I agree with Richard here. Lenore and the FRK crew are right to be keeping a watchful eye out for over-protective policies/procedures that ultimately do our kids more harm than good. But, in this case, I think the stamping in/out process is a reasonable one, given the nature of the business.

  3. Sylvia September 1, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Agree with both above. Actually, yesterday was the first time I had ever been to one with my family. This security policy allows me to give my almost 3 year old daughter the same freedom to roam that her older brothers get there. And I get to relax. It’s a pretty stimulating place. It’s a treat and not a daily occurrence–it’s an arcade, not a park! Give the big cheese a break!

  4. R September 1, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    I have heard of adult fights at these restaurants… Related to gangs, family disputes, and adults fighting over tickets/tokens/prizes. In fact, the Kokomo, IN location is a joke among followers of the local scanner. “Another fight at Chuck E. Cheese….” I have little doubt that these efforts are to curb immature and inappropriate adult behaviors

  5. Larry September 1, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    When my children were younger, we’d go there fairly often during the winter months to get out of the house. On more than 1 occasion I just walked out, for various reasons, refusing to go back and show my stamp. The stamp does nothing. They can’t keep you there. It’s just security theater.

  6. LKR September 1, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    I suspect that far more often that a child wandering out with another family, families are inconvienced by not being able to call another mom who has a kid at the same party for a ride home. Often our kids’ parents and I would carpool – one drives there, the other back. It was a pain in the neck not to be able to do that, or to not be able to change plans (ie: “Hey, the grocery store is taking longer than I thought, can you pick up my kid when you get yours?”).

  7. Powers September 1, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    The real problem is the Chuck E. Cheese’s outlets that prohibit unaccompanied adults.

  8. BL September 1, 2015 at 8:33 am #

    I say stamping isn’t enough! Everyone entering Chuck E. Cheese should be drug-tested and fingerprinted!

    Oh, and they better have their papers in order.

  9. James Pollock September 1, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    There aren’t many people who remember it, but Chuck E. Cheese’s original target demographic was teenagers.

    I haven’t been in one in a very long time. What I remember is hubbub… constant motion noise, and frenzy. I don’t remember being troubled by their security procedures, although they were strict, and meant that the place couldn’t be used as a place to make an exchange (between parents with visitation and parents with custody, or between grandparents and parents, for example) except out in the parking lot… I guess I just couldn’t see anyone who didn’t have a frenzied, yelling, running child wanting to be inside.

  10. Andrea September 1, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    My friend’s younger sister had her birthday party there and I wished to just stop by on my way to work and drop off her present. Well apparently bc I was 16 yrs old not 18 I was told I could not leave without an adult accompanying me out. I was extremely embarrassing to go to my friend’s mom and ask her if she could come to the front with me so I could leave

  11. Randy September 1, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I remember going there as a teenager in the early 90s (the one near us had some great arcade games). I don’t remember there being any hand stamping or paranoia. In fact the only big problem I remember them having was kids trying to get too close to the animatronic stage shows. I remember feeling bad for the employees for having the thankless job of cleaning up after all the kids, constantly shooing them away from the stages, and in general having the crummiest job in the universe. Maybe that’s why all of them appeared to be 16 years old.

    I went back recently to go to a friend’s son’s birthday party, and it was a completely different experience. My wife and I weren’t even allowed inside, we had to stand out in the lobby and have my friend and his son come vouch for us, at which time we were then stamped and allowed to spend $50 on pizza and soda. The hostess stand was staffed by several employees (none of which were 16, I can tell you that!) to make sure that no one slipped by. Some courthouses have weaker security than that place.

    I won’t be going back.

  12. Christine September 1, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    I totally see the point here, but what is funny is that I always felt like that policy actually allowed my children to have their first taste of being kind of free-range. When they were young enough that I wouldn’t allow them to wander away from me in pretty much any other public space, I could let them there, without worrying about them wandering out the door. I’d sit at a table and they could run around, pick their own games and figure them out, navigate waiting turns with other kids, all without me hovering over them.

  13. Bob September 1, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    The real problem is Chuck E Cheese’s… it’s hedonism for kids. It is a crazy, overstimulating atmosphere that flies in the face of the whole free range kids idea. If your kids need this much stimulation and sensory overload to eat then they are not hungry enough, If they need this much noise and glitter tom be entertained then they’ve lost touch with their imagination. Whatever happened to parties where they socialized with friends and interacted with each other. It’s another way that helicopter parents have to provide the heightened over-the-top “best” for their kids in a world view that confuses stimulation with fun and short term pleasure with happiness. And what you are feeding your kids there is destroying their bodies. Once in a lifetime is more than enough. With this much distraction and noise going on someone had better keep track of your kids! The policy is smoke and mirrors making you believe you are keeping your kids safe.

  14. Jennifer Griffin September 1, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Here in Colorado we have had terrible shootings in many places, one of which occurred at a local CEC. The activities are cheap or free (a kid can play for hours on $20) and the food is cheap and not required. They tend to be in more disadvantaged neighborhoods where unfortunately violence tends to happen. The real problem is treating all locations as the worst location. In some places the “reminder” not to bring your guns or fight is necessary and some places maybe not.

  15. Brooks September 1, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Chuck E Cheeze is the fifth circle of hell for me. My kids learned early on that if they go, it won’t be with me.

  16. James Pollock September 1, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    We had a competing chain that also catered to the “get the kids to demand to go there” demographic. However A) the pizza was pretty good, and B) the kids’ play area was in a different room from the dining area. Unless you were near the door, you could pretend that there weren’t 200 screaming kids in the same place you were. And… the entertainment was included in the price; you didn’t need quarters, or tokens, to do anything.

  17. Buffy September 1, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Just as an FYI, as far as I can tell the CEC shooting in Colorado was in 1993. 22 years ago.

  18. M September 1, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    Went there once, I’d never go back. Nasty, dirty, with employees who truly don’t give a —-, bad food, total chaos.

    And that was before those signs. Do kids REALLY need to think the world is a dangerous place filled with guns, gangs, violence and kidnappers?

  19. marie September 1, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    “I always felt like that policy allowed my children to have their first taste of being kind of free-range.”

    Let’s pretend CEC didn’t have all that security. What is to prevent you from letting your kids roam freely? What would happen if you did? How often would kids leave with the wrong family and what would happen if they did? Some confusion and worry for the parents, i am sure, but i see no danger for the kids.

    You don’t need all that security to let your kids run around. You do need to make sure your kids know the rule: don’t leave with a stranger or without talking to mom and dad first…whatever your requirement is.

    If the three-year-old does escape and is wandering outside, no one is waiting outside snapping up kids “like free samples at Shoprite.” More likely another parent will bring the child inside CEC to find parents.

    Our rule, like Bob, was ‘absolutely no Chuck E. Cheese unless you go with someone else’s parents.’

  20. lollipoplover September 1, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    I refer Chuck E. Cheese as Kiddie Atlantic City and dislike it for encouraging gambling behavior (ticket winnings) and the ridiculously crappy prizes offered after spending $40 on stupid games to win a pack of smarties. Or a plastic kazoo. The dancing rat freaked my kids out too.

    The security theater just adds to the casino feel with constant noise and flashing lights and *guards*. I’d rather have bees in my hair than take my kids here.
    And their pizza SUCKS.

  21. Warren September 1, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    If you need the Hand Stamp Gestapo to prevent your child from leaving when you don’t want them to, teach them better.

  22. Kathie September 1, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Though I am not a regular Chuck E Cheese visitor, I was delighted with the hand stamp policy when we went there last spring for my son’s birthday. I never viewed at as solely “abduction protection” because I don’t often worry about that…I am pretty free range with my 7 and 10 year olds. But…that place is crazy. And I had a baby at the time, it was evening, and both my husband and I loathed the idea of running around that place. So it was AWESOME to just let the kids goo off by themselves (to learn how to manage their use of tokens without us hovering), knowing there would be a staff person guarding the door and that they could not get out without us.

  23. Maureen September 1, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    Great letter: from what I understand, the no gun policy is because Chuck e Cheese operates in open carry states. They’ve taken a stand against bullies who bring rifles and handguns into public places.

    They’ve taken a lot of flak for the no guns policy and have made many statements about guns having no place around children. Considering that at least every 3 days in America, a child dies from a gun accident, i don’t think a no gun policy is overly cautious.

    Patrons bearing arms would most likely not have prevented the shooting in 1993 either.

  24. Havva September 1, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    I used to go to Chuck E Cheese a lot as a kid. I certainly recognized that as an adult it would be noisier than I would like and not be as entertaining an experience. But even that recognition did not prepare me for what I ran into. I walked into one 10 years ago because I had suddenly taken ill and needed a bathroom pronto, the closest one was at a Chuck E Cheese. I barely made it because they held us up at the entrance over those hand stamps. I guess they overlooked the no unaccompanied adults thing because my husband was begging the emergency need for me as I was feeling too awful to speak. I guess I was small enough to pass as a kid, so the stamped us and let us in… I guess I got stamped as property. While I was recovering and making sure I didn’t have a relapse we walked around and looked the place over. I could only find one of the games I remembered from my youth, ignored off in a corner, the rest having been replaced with basically kiddie gambling machines. Then there was the line to get out! Just unbelievable. It was an incredibly long, incredibly slow line. We estimated that it might take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to get out of there. Thankfully a fire alarm got us out of there right when I felt stable and wanted to leave. We were surprised the alarm could even be heard over the unbelievable din of the place. The staff tried to coral everyone in a fenced area but we just flat refused and left.

    Despite our fond childhood memories, we both swore we were never going back to Chuck E Cheese again (not even if I got ill near one again). We agreed that the place was not the sort of place we would want a child we were responsible for at, even if we could drop them at the door and avoid going in. While I have a basic sympathy for the parents who want a safe place to let their 3 year olds loose (I certainly know 3 year olds are exhausting and have a ton of energy to burn). But I just don’t see myself going with the notion that Chuck E. Cheese is the place to do it. Freedom is wonderful, but without responsibility… even so little responsibility as knowing not to leave the building… that strikes me as a poor footing for allowing freedom. It seems closer to allowing the kid to go feral.

    Maybe Chuck E Cheese is the only place that specifically allows untended 3 year olds. (But the popular party places around me will take them unattended at 4 without major security hoopla). And when she was 3, I’ve let my daughter have some free run without taking her to Chuck E Cheese. Fenced yards at friend’s houses, with instruction not to exit the fenced area. At busy playgrounds, with instructions not to enter the woods or cross the stream or the road. And our favorite of all, she loves to run around the synagogue with friends. This of course is not allowed until after the people from adult services have cleared out. She and her friends would not be allowed to do that if we moms couldn’t trust them not to obey, “Don’t leave the building unless it is on fire.” We usually find them in a daycare class room playing with the toys, and we all enforced them cleaning up everything they played with before leaving, which they now mostly do unprompted. Sure we have call them the ‘mischief gang’ and we are fine with letting them find a little mischief. But every one of our mischief makers knows that leaving the building without one of us adults, or going into the parking lot if we are playing outside, is a serious boundary not to be crossed.

  25. Coasterfreak September 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I have to admit I’m a little surprised by the overwhelming “hate CEC and will never take my kids there” sentiment here, especially since I’m guessing a lot of us were allowed to enjoy CEC as kids even though our parents could probably think of a million other places they’d rather be. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve been to CEC because my youngest kid is now 17 and hasn’t been interested in a long time, but although I always found it to be noisy, chaotic and irritating, it was just something I put up with for the kids. My least favorite part of going to any of those types of places was always standing there at the prize counter while my kids spent 8 hours picking out which cruddy little plastic toy they wanted in exchange for their hundreds of tickets they won.

    As far as the security theater goes, I think it’s ridiculous, although I’m not going to go on a rant about it at this time because once I get started it’s hard to stop.

  26. Kimberly September 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    The whole TSA thing bugs me too. A few years ago, when I flew out of San Jose to North Carolina for a job interview, TSA decided that they needed to dump my carry-on and purse out to search through it. I sat there at the security check point while they dug through everything I was bringing. It took about 5 minutes then the guy turned to me, said I was free to go and then he thanked me for my Army service.

    I spent the next 10 minutes packing all my stuff back up.

  27. John September 1, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Haven’t been into Chuck E. Cheese’s since my grand nephews were small but if it’s like this lady is saying they’ve definitely overkilled the security. It boils down to children, children, children. The mindset being is that all children need security detail and a protective shield around them.

    The section of classrooms at our church where the kids meet for youth Sunday school prior to and after the service are off limits to any adult except for parents. There is a big sign that reads, “To better protect our little ones, please do not use these doors on Sunday morning.” “Protect our little ones” from what? Turns out I cannot walk out of the building via the youth classroom section but must go around instead. Now with that area bustling with kids and parents on Sunday morning how in the world could anyone molest or abduct a kid without anybody seeing it?

    This is all the result of some “one-step-ahead” person ensuring even more ways to over protect kids at the expense of inconveniencing the adults.

  28. Charles September 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    At least around here, CEC tends to attract a rough crowd. There are fights, drugs, pickpockets, and more. Last year there was a fight inside the CEC that spilled over into the parking lot and shots were fired in broad daylight. Free range kids aside, they need metal detectors and a pat down for the adults before entering.

  29. Ben September 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    This letter is very fortuitous timing for me, because just yesterday, my wife and took my son to Davis Farmland in Sterling, MA. It’s basically a petting zoo/farm-themed playground/water park. And just like Chuckie Cheese, they do not allow adults without children, and families all get numbered wristbands, which are then checked when exiting to make sure you’re not abducting someone else’s kids.

    It personally made me very very angry that the default assumptions in play here are: 1.) Any adult with a child would only ever go here for the purpose of abducting or harming a child and 2.) People are abducting children from these places left and right. It’s an insanely paranoid way to run a business, and it feeds into other parents’ minds that danger is everywhere and every child-focused business should be run like this.

    I could understand having someone at the exit to make sure kids aren’t wandering out on their own, but give me a break with the numbered wristbands.

  30. Ben September 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I meant to say “1.) Any adult *without a child would only ever go here for the purpose of abducting or harming a child

  31. Rick September 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Disney now takes your fingerprints. You can only implement something like that at Disney. It’s the police state mentality. Condition them to accept being tagged and equate it with being fun and you’ve got them hooked.

  32. Rachel September 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    Chuck-E Cheese sucks now. I had numerous birthday parties there as a child, and was more than a little excited to take my daughter there for her 2nd birthday (in 2014). Except I was sad to find that there was no longer a stage show, no longer ball pits, and no more climbing structures. Basically I took my two year old to an arcade for her birthday. I took some kids I baby-sat in 2006-2007 and they still had climbing stuff, so at some point between then and now they ruined it for little kids. Plus ball pits might be gross, but they are awesome, and I feel my kids are being cheated by no longer having ball pits.

    I don’t really care about the safety procedure. I like it actually. Not because of the strangers running off with my kids hypothesis, but because of the child running off by themselves hypothesis. Although I watch my children most of the time, its nice to let them kind of run around unsupervised, and the check-in/out system lets me feel comfortable they won’t leave without me!

  33. lollipoplover September 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

    “Where a kid can’t be kidnapped!”

    Yeah, but expose them to unlimited sodas, high fat and calorie fried food, gambling, ear splitting noise, and over priced entertainment under the DELUSION that this is “where a kid can be a kid” instead of playing at a free playground.

  34. DaveS September 1, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    They are certainly free to impose the nonsense as a condition of entry, but I can’t imagine, aside from a willingness on part of the patrons to participate, how they could impose it on exit.

    You can’t leave until we do our verification.
    Oh really, so you intend to hold me here against my will?

  35. Rachel Murph September 1, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    I would just like to add that in some states unless it is posted that no guns are allowed, then people by right have a legal right to carry concealed. Which by the way I agree with that right. But I also agree wth establishments determining if they want that right excercised. I guess chuck e cheese things no guns are safer. I feel like this NOT a battle to fight.

    Now the stamping and such I can kind of agree time I had to make my screaming child hold out his hand to be scanned because he had no interest in giving a stranger his hand. He was not happy about the violation of what he felt like was his personal space. Really no big deal but it was a little bit of a situation.

  36. SKL September 1, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    I heard they were doing that to prevent non-custodial parents from snatching their kids at birthday parties and such. I hear that’s a higher risk than any of the other fears people talk about. I don’t think it needs to be a deal-breaker. The bracelet thing is used in many settings and doesn’t hurt anyone.

    The scary signs which kids may ask about? That would bug me. Do you really need to tell people that they shouldn’t be shooting guns in Chuck-E-Cheez?

  37. SKL September 1, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    I mean, the kid can think the bracelet is an admission thing (like at an amusement park) vs. a safety thing.

  38. bmommyx2 September 1, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    I am not a fan for other reasons, but we have been when invited for a birthday party or playdate. I’ve never noticed the signs, but do find the stamping odd. I do have a crazy child who is a runner & for that I appreciate that he couldn’t mix in with a crowd & escape so I will not complain, but I do agree with the above letter. Personally I don’t find it an enjoyable environment even if they made those changes.

  39. SKL September 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Mostly off-topic, but I had a little free-range fun yesterday at a conference located in a big-city hotel. As a single mom, I generally take my kids wherever I go outside of school hours, and out-of-town conferences are no exception. They brought their homework to do during the conference. They were camped out in the ante-room, but I told them they could go around the entire floor at will, since I knew they would get bored just sitting there. So far so good.

    As the final speech ended, I went to the ante-room, where the bar guy was setting up the reception (alcohol and finger food). The bar guy suggested another part of the hotel my kids might be interested to see (some historical story stuff). I said I wasn’t sure if anyone would take issue with two young kids (8yo) running around alone, and he said no, as long as they seem to know what they’re doing, nobody would care.

    Later, my kids were playing around in the empty conference room. A hotel employee unexpectedly flung open a door where my kid was standing. He gasped. I saw that his hands were full of glass glasses, and I gasped, thinking my kid was gonna cause dishes to be broken. My kid gasped in pain. No dishes were dropped, and focus turned to my kid’s hip. It looked like she was going to have a bruise, but nothing major. She got over it quickly and was soon turning cartwheels etc. I was happy to move on, but I learned later that the employee went and reported the incident.

    I needed to go to another floor to get internet. My kids wanted to hang out downstairs, where they had found a little cubby all to themselves. Fine and dandy. About 15 minutes later, my daughter came up to me, leading a hotel manager, saying “here’s my mom.” Ugh. But no, they were not coming to complain about my kids being “alone” or causing trouble. They had gone looking for “the little girl” (she is petite) who had been hurt, so they could document the accident and my reaction to it. They took my contact info and her name and went away. Whew.

    I feel a lot better about hotels in that area now. There was not one raised eyebrow about my kids being somewhere different from their mom.

  40. Liz September 1, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    I’m just glad I am not the only one who hates CEC. That place is horrible and I refuse to go. BTW – no, my parents did not take me there as a kid, they hated places like that too. ugh kiddie gambling and horrible food. And yes, the hand stamp procedure weirded me out the one and only time I went.

  41. JR September 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    @Andrea – the ironic part is that at 16, you could be an employee of CEC, but since you weren’t working for them, you had to submit to the ID check on your way out.

    Imagine a 16yo CEC employee showing up at their younger sibling’s birthday party and needing an adult escort to leave the building because they weren’t on the clock.

    At age 12, my friends and I were regular, paying customers of Peter Piper Pizza in the summers. We would rollerblade until it got too hot, and then show up at PPP and eat pizza, feed the jukebox, and play video games until mid-afternoon.

    Ahhh… freedom…

  42. Rich September 1, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Anyone defending Chuck…

    … why are your hand stamps invisible, only readable under their ultraviolet light?

  43. Renee Anne September 1, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    While I think the policy is a bit excessive in some ways, I do like it because it does allow me to give my young children some freedom within a safe place. My oldest, who is almost 5 now, was a known wander risk (and a runner) if he were allowed to go about without being somehow attached to me or my husband. It was nice to be able to just sit back and let him go about his playing without fear of him wandering out the door.

  44. E September 1, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    I’m with the others that personally will never go into the CEC just because it’s not my thing.

    Businesses can choose to run their businesses however they’d like in a manner that makes sense to them and their budgets, clients, goals, etc.

    People have the right to decide if a business service matches up with the experience they are seeking.

    What more is there to say?

  45. Dee September 1, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    Excellent story, SKL! Well, except for your daughter being bruised, but I have no doubt she can handle it! Glad the hotel was so chill! (Except for the documentation part for their attorneys, but hey, not unsurprising!)

  46. EricS September 1, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    As long as no one has to go through a background check, stamps on wristbands are acceptable to me. When I was working club security back in the day, that’s what we did with patrons. So we know who’s already been there, and those that are trying to sneak in without paying. It’s the mindset that I take into consideration. Is it to make sure we know if kids are leaving on their own, or is it to keep Chuck E. Cheese from being sued? If the latter, don’t use kids as the excuse. NEVER, ever use kids as an excuse to push your own agenda, this includes with parents.

    That being said, from some of the comments I’ve read, it seems this policy keeps parents mind at ease. Because they think Chuck E. Cheese staff will keep an eye on their kids for them, using their own policies. Which means parents “feel better because people they don’t know will automatically watch over their kids so they don’t have to”. Not sure about anyone else, but I see a flaw in that reasoning. 1. You think they WOULD keep a vigil over your kids, considering all their rules and regulations posted everywhere? That’s for THEIR benefit, so if something does happen to your kid(s), they are absolved. And 2. A better idea, teach your children the right way to conduct themselves in a public setting. Never leave the premises EVER without telling one of their parents specifically. And if they are just going off with a friend, and will be away from earshot or viewing distance, to let you know where they are going to and with whom.

    This way, you don’t have to rely on staff, whom some are not very reliable. It will also give you better piece of mind because you know your kids are well equipped to deal with situations in the establishment. And it will help you to relax. Truly relax. But we first must trust our children to do what we’ve taught them, and trust ourselves that we’ve taught them well. This is how many of us were raised in the past. This is FRK mentality. The primary things we should be relying on, is ourselves and our kids. That’s it. We do that right, it doesn’t really matter what happens outside of that. Our kids will know how to deal with it. They are never to young to learn. And the older kids can learn to watch out for the younger ones. Responsibility taught young, is responsibility that becomes ingrain in them. That it just becomes natural instinct to do when they are young adults. Like muscle memory.

  47. Vanessa September 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    @Rachel – I thought I was the only one who thought CEC sucked now! My little brother and I went there for a few birthday parties when we were kids in the early 80s, and I remember it being super fun, with ball pits and long climbing structures/tunnels that you could almost get lost in (loved the stage show too). By the time I started taking my own kid in the early 2000s, it was just a small McDonald’s size play structure with a few video games. Also, I’m not that worried about germs under normal circumstances, but it’s a total pit of disease. My daughter figured out in fourth or fifth grade that she got sick every single time we went, and the next time her school was having a fundraiser night there, she said she didn’t want to go because “It’s not enough fun to be worth being sick for a week afterward.”

  48. E September 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    @ErikS, I think you are over-complicating the issue. If you have a preschooler, it’s just nice to know that the kid isn’t going to leave the area when you turn to talk to your spouse/friend/whatever. I would think it’s particularly nice when it’s a place that has lots of kids and places to explore. That’s it.

  49. Rook September 1, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    I’ve only been once or twice. My complaint with Chuck-e-Cheese is the bad food, entirely too loud speakers, and the ugly costumes. I know I have SPD, but even my normal relatives and friends get sensory overload in that chaotic nightmare.

    The stamps and bracelets make sense from a monetary perspective. I’m used to getting stamped at the skating ring, amusement parks, and other places. It’s an easy way to make sure nobody sneaks in without paying. Although rather disturbing that if a 16-year-old kid comes in for a younger friend’s birthday party they are not allowed to leave because they didn’t come with an adult. Talk about a really backwards anti-kidnapping policy.

  50. Papilio September 1, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    @BL: “Everyone entering Chuck E. Cheese should be drug-tested and fingerprinted! Oh, and they better have their papers in order.”

    You pussy. I say RFID chip implants, matching barcodes tattooed on their foreheads and parents and kids should be handcuffed together for the entire duration of their stay!

  51. Warren September 1, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Was just telling my neighbor about this letter. She told me of a time her daughter was at CEC’s for a party and her dad went to pick her up. Mom had dropped her off, and since dad was in town he went to pick her up. Parents do this all the time, being we live half an hour out of town.
    Well CEC told him that they wouldn’t release the child. Didn’t come with her, no stamp and no prior notification, so they would have to get the parent that organized the event to come over and verify his claim. He told them, do what they have to, but he was leaving with his daughter. He did and nothing was ever said.
    As with any policies that these places set up, they cannot stop you from leaving with your kid. When it gets right down to it, the worst they can do is call the cops.

  52. Puzzled September 1, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    I’ve never been in one of the places, so I have no frame of reference. I’m a bit confused by Andrea’s experience, though. Since when do businesses have the ability to lock people in? What would they have done if you had just walked out? Called the police and said “she’s trying to leave our place of business”?

  53. Kimberly September 1, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    The idea that CEC utilizes hand-stamps to keep kids corralled within its establishment is just completely silly. The hand-stamp is not what keeps your child from wandering out the door. The employee standing there at the podium is what keeps your child from wandering out the door.

    The hand-stamps are there to match children to adults — to ensure that children are leaving with the adults they arrived with. The only reason a hand-stamp makes you feel better about letting your child explore w/o supervision is because you are re-assured that they won’t be leaving with another adult — not because you’re re-assured that they won’t do a runner.

  54. Tim in SF September 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    Your TV-hating husband should pick up one of these keychains. I’ve found it to be most helpful in maintaining my sanity.

  55. James Pollock September 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    “Anyone defending Chuck…
    … why are your hand stamps invisible, only readable under their ultraviolet light?”

    Not defending Chuck, but the answer is pretty simple. The same reason nightclubs and other places that stamp those admitted… to keep the stamp from being copied.

  56. James Pollock September 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    “Since when do businesses have the ability to lock people in?”
    Since forever. You see, if they tell you “a condition of entry is that nobody leaves until we open the doors”… and you enter… you’ve already consented to staying until they open the doors. Once upon a time, movie theaters had… and enforced… this rule. Some concert halls and theatres still do. Once you’re in, you’re staying put until intermission.

    “What would they have done if you had just walked out?”
    Prevented you from just walking out.

  57. Emma September 1, 2015 at 11:14 pm #


    A Pedo writing to a Pedo-lover so the Pedo-lover can post the “letter” on her “website” where all her sheep can bleet for more!

  58. SOA September 1, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    I am okay with this policy. They actually don’t question adults coming in alone. I have come in alone and they just let me right through. Same with my husband.

    The main reason they do it is not so much for stranger danger but also to keep kids from leaving on their own when they are not supposed to. As a mom with a son with autism who elopes, I appreciate this. I like knowing if he tries to leave, good chance they will stop him. Makes me feel better and makes it so I feel secure to let him play the games and walk about independently. I don’t worry about kidnapping. I worry about him leaving on his own.

  59. Sarah September 2, 2015 at 12:00 am #

    @Rachel It really depends on which CEC you go to, as to whether they have climbing structures. There are two near me, and we got invited to a birthday party at the one that was slightly farther away. They had an amazing climbing structure and the kids had a blast. So for fun one day I thought I’d take my kids, only I chose the closer one, and it had no climbing structure at all. So you might see if there’s another one near you worth trying.

    I *loved* going to CEC when I was a kid, just to play Skeeball. I’d spend every token I had on that game. Better than bowling. 🙂 I was great at it, too, and got some prizes that, to my 10-year-old mind at least, were pretty decent.

    I personally like places like CEC where kids can’t just run out, although I think a gate with a latch out of 2-year-old reach is perfectly fine, too. Then I can let the kids play totally freely without worrying about one wandering off and either going into the parking lot alone, or attracting the attention of CPS. Because no, I don’t worry in the slightest about kidnapping, I worry about streets/cars and CPS.

  60. caiti September 2, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    To all the people who commented that the gun law is to prevent guns in open carry states, why would each CEC have to have the exact same signs as every other CEC, especially since, as we’ve seen, they don’t even have the same play equipment? New Jersey is not an open carry state. In fact, if I understand correctly, unless you are a police officer is almost impossible to be allowed to own a handgun or many other weapons. A few years ago I had a stalker and looked into what I could get to protect myself and my son since I am a single mom. It was so difficult to get anything that I decided to move to another town rather than try to find a weapon that I could legally own. (Fortunately, I haven’t had any threatening letters or odd encounters since we moved!)

  61. Warren September 2, 2015 at 2:57 am #

    You’re an idiot. They can try and stop you, but they cannot confine you to their property. And they are in high risk of injury should they try. I would love to see some theater usher tell me I can’t leave whenever I want.

  62. sexhysteria September 2, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    Why not add to the signs: In case of terrorist attack, please take cover with your children in the basement. In case of sexual abuse, please report it immediately instead of keeping secrets. In case of bullying, be advised that Chuck E. Cheese has a zero-tolerance policy.

  63. Dhewco September 2, 2015 at 7:09 am #

    I hate places that have a ‘no unaccompanied adults’ policy. There are innocent reasons for someone to want to be around kids. It doesn’t have to mean pedo. Take me, for example. There are times I feel melancholy and lonely. Going to a little league game, an arcade, or some place like this brings back fond memories of both my childhood and hanging with an ex-girlfriend’s kids. It is a definite pick-me-up to watch kids playing games and having fun.

    I don’t like confrontation; so I don’t do it anymore. I’m so scared that someone will assume I mean ill that just don’t risk it. I wouldn’t do well in jail (in case there was a fight).

    In my old hometown, there is a public park that the school used to take kids to. I happen to be visiting and stopped there for old times sake (I’d lived in the neighborhood as a little boy). The teachers and aides stared at me for a good ten minutes until it was too unpleasant to remain.

    There are times I wonder if the constant news cycle and the fact that people watch negative news more than positive have really hurt the way people view unaccompanied adults. Also, there seems to be a prevailing opinion that there are only two people who like kids, pedos and parents. (note, I say ‘seems’)

  64. BL September 2, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    @James Pollock
    “Prevented you from just walking out.”

    OK, typical vague James-response, intended to provoke something like the following:

    Responder: So they do what? Tackle you? Set attack dogs on you? Blow you away with a high-powered weapon?

    James: Gee, I didn’t say that. You’re putting words in my mouth!

    So let’s assume that bit has already been covered and proceed.

    What do mean by “prevent”? Be very specific, and assume the walk-outer uses only as much force as necessary to leave, given the nature of the prevention. If only words are used, he just keeps walking. If someone blocks his path, he pushes or shoulders the preventer aside (no punching or kicking unless that’s the only way to break free).

    Describe this prevention, and how far it can go.

  65. BL September 2, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    “I hate places that have a ‘no unaccompanied adults’ policy. Going to a little league game”

    Do they really not allow unaccompanied adults to little league games anymore? Local ones, I mean, since nobody prevented me from attending the Little League World Series (by myself) the last two Saturdays.

    It would be hard to do in my town since the local LL field borders on public streets on two sides.

  66. Valerie Parkhurst September 2, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    I doubt Chunk E Cheese turns over its patrons comings and goings to the NSA and with that being said, the letter from Ariana aka Lenore may very well want to look at their policy from another angle. We as parents are so conditioned to be aware of those with nefarious motives (with good reason) by the way, that whatever security features are implemented in business’s who cater to children are a welcome feature for parents.
    Lenore’s claim to fame is solely based on an earlier time in history that was not fraught with social policies that turnstile the bad guys out onto the backs of the public on a dime bet. Contrary to her “shtick” she has been playing on, we have more truly dangerous persons on our streets than in anytime in history. The daily headlines and “breaking news” stories verify it.

    Lenore took an initial (noble) premise of raising self reliant kids and circumvented it into a dangerous and half witted “gig” that as of today only has her selfish quest of appearing relevant and viewing her name in a public forum. It is time to put Lenore Skanazy on the “pay no mind list”…

  67. Buffy September 2, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    Dolly, your specific experience does not supercede the experiences of those posting right here on this site who HAVE been questioned going to CEC without a child. Try really hard to remember that everyone is not you.

  68. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    “What do mean by “prevent”? Be very specific”


    verb (used with object)
    to keep from occurring; avert; hinder:
    to hinder or stop from doing something:

    verb (used without object)
    to interpose a hindrance:

    “Describe this prevention, and how far it can go.”
    As far as it can go? The doors do not open because they are locked. When you try to push past the employees, using only as much force as is necessary, you are physically restrained and law enforcement personnel are summoned. You are arrested and taken away when the law enforcement personnel arrive.

    More commonly? Out you go, setting off the alarms; you get banned from returning.

  69. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    “Contrary to her ‘shtick’ she has been playing on, we have more truly dangerous persons on our streets than in anytime in history.”

    Maybe, but they’re committing FAR fewer violent crimes.

  70. BL September 2, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    “The doors do not open because they are locked”

    Uh, fire codes?

  71. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    “‘The doors do not open because they are locked’
    Uh, fire codes?”

    OK, I’ll bite. How fire codes were they?

  72. BL September 2, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    “OK, I’ll bite. How fire codes were they?”

    Fire codes generally prohibit locking designated exits in public places (and there have to be designated exits).

    This line from the fire code of Pennsylvania (where I live) seems to be typical:

    “No lock or other device which prevents egress shall be permitted on the doors during any period of occupancy.”

  73. Papilio September 2, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    @Valerie: Awwww, I LOVE stupid conspiracy theories! Can we meet in a dark alley somewhere at 3:00 am so you can show me your absolute lack of proof for what you were just rambling about? Perhaps Lenore will be so kind to hire a hitman to keep you from talking, for the perfect B-movie atmosphere! Everyone (else), bring popcorn!

  74. Dhewco September 2, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    As to the little league thing, maybe not. But, the last time I went I got stopped by two people and asked who I was there to see. This time, I was there to see my ex’s son play little league. So, I passed muster. However, the way they asked me those questions made me very uncomfortable and I had a reason to be there. When the boy stopped going to LL, I was too shaken by the experience to go.

    It’s probably me, and I’m probably too sensitive, but I stopped going. I know my reasons were good and it still bugged me.

  75. JR September 2, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    @James –

    Come on. You’ve seen the signs. “These doors shall remain unlocked during business hours.” And safety codes require those doors to be build with push-bars that open the doors outward, rather than having doorknobs or hinges that open inward.

    And who would do the restraining? The teen in the mouse suit? The bored kid sweeping the floor? They don’t get paid enough to care.

    So your scenario, while perhaps possible in some weird alternate-universe CEC that takes its cues from the Soviet Union, is not even remotely likely to occur in real life.

    You knew your initial statement was indefensible, and that’s why you made such a half-hearted attempt to salvage it. You admit that what will really happen is that a person not following the rules will probably be “prevented from returning,” which has a far different meaning from your original statement that they will be “prevented from leaving.”

  76. Dhewco September 2, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Oh, for an edit function. ‘This time’ refers to the time I was stopped by those two mothers.

  77. BL September 2, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    “the last time I went I got stopped by two people and asked who I was there to see. This time, I was there to see my ex’s son play little league. So, I passed muster. However, the way they asked me those questions made me very uncomfortable and I had a reason to be there.”

    Since college students are being treated more or less as pre-teens, I suppose next no adults will be able to attend college football or basketball unless they have a “child” playing in the game.

    Ah, well, there’s always ESPN …

  78. Papilio September 2, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    @Emma: Who the heck is Pedo?

  79. Papilio September 2, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    @JR: “You knew your initial statement was indefensible, and that’s why you made such a half-hearted attempt to salvage it.”

    He reminds me of the Black Knight, actually:

  80. Havva September 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Since Emma and Valerie are getting off on the same bizarre assumptions, it looks like Emma is either one of Valerie’s followers, or (since Valerie assumes no one would write to or agree with Lenore and since Emma sounds like the stuff that comes up when you Google Valerie Parkhurst) perhaps “Emma” is just Valerie Parkhurst.

    Either way, it is worth noting that Valerie Parkhurst fancies herself a vigilante. She is noted for both on line and off line harassment. She has been charged with aggravated assault on two occasions in Broward County FL. In the 2007 incident the charge filed was Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, and a charge of illegal concealed carry of said Firearm.
    Case number: 96014408CF10A
    Case number: 07022171CF10A

    These can be found by going here
    On the left click public search
    Select “Felony, Traffic & Misdemeanor Case Records”
    Then you can search for these by name or case number.

  81. BL September 2, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    “Who the heck is Pedo?”

    Maybe she can’t spell Pedro. Or bleat, for that matter.

  82. John September 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    @Dhewco…..I hear what you’re saying Dhewco but from what I’m observing in all of my international travels, pedophilia-phobia is more unique to the United States more so than in most countries. Now if you were in the Philippines, for example, you would not get harassed if you were observing a youth soccer match or even if you were merely conversing with a group of kids on the street. I know because I’ve been there and done that!

  83. Beth September 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    BL, repeat this over and over….don’t engage!


  84. Beth September 2, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    (as it relates to JP)

  85. lollipoplover September 2, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    “Who the heck is Pedo?”

    Maybe she can’t spell Pedro. Or bleat, for that matter.”

    Pedo is someone who prays for you. Or on you. If it’s praying for you, perhaps they follow the teachings of Sanctimonious the Internet God of Blame. Most believers lack basic grammar skills and are difficult to understand and easily loose credibility by resorting to insulting language and threats of violence.

    But I’m just waiting for Hineata to join in the conversation and defend her sheep.

  86. Dhewco September 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    John, maybe one day I’ll publish a book that allows me to travel, lol. I’m so jealous. Right now, I’m in the po’ house and it’s all I can do to travel to the nearest city of 50k people. I wonder if there are still communities in the States that aren’t as crazy as mine.

  87. BL September 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    “BL, repeat this over and over….don’t engage! (as it relates to JP)”

    Sounds like good advice. But then what? Emma and Valerie?

    (At least I’ll bet JP can spell “bleat” correctly.)

  88. hineata September 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    @lollipoplover – all right, got me, who’s attacking the sheep now, LOL 🙂 ? Had to actually work all week this week, bad winter so they want subs, not much time to shelter my woolly brethren .. .still, more money to spend at halls of culinary delight like these ones …NOT!

    Seriously, does chuck mean the same thing in the US as it does down here? Because I don’t think I could eat at a place with those connotations. It would be like opening a playplace down Under and calling it Chunder Charly’s.

  89. JR September 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    @Papilio –

    “Victory is mine! It’s only a flesh wound! I’ll bite your legs off!”

    I know… one shouldn’t “F” with the incapacitated, but still… low-hanging fruit, and all that…

  90. JR September 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    @Hineata –

    Thanks for the cultural enlightenment. I had to look up “chunder” to learn that it meant “vomit” in Australian/New Zealand slang.

    It apparently came from seasick people yelling “Watch under!” while vomiting out a port-hole on their way to the islands. Sort of like the medieval French yelling “Gardez l’eau!” as they dumped their chamber pots out an upper-story window, which became “Gardy-loo!” in Anglophone Europe.

    And yes, “chuck” can mean “vomit” in American English, although it’s usually called “upchuck” at that point. The word “chuck” can also mean “throw,” in context, such as “Chuck me the ball,” although it is also used without irony as a nickname for Charles.

    Anyway, AWESOME!

  91. Puzzled September 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

    >Lenore’s claim to fame is solely based on an earlier time in history that was not fraught with social policies that >turnstile the bad guys out onto the backs of the public on a dime bet. Contrary to her “shtick” she has been >playing on, we have more truly dangerous persons on our streets than in anytime in history. The daily headlines >and “breaking news” stories verify it.

    That something is reported more, and more dramatically, does not mean it occurs more often. More dangerous people on the streets than anytime in history – more than, for instance, during the plague? Have you read any history?

    As for James and locking people in – yes, a business physically can lock someone in, but your bit about consent seems strained to me. Contracts are not slavery contracts. Suppose you agree to sing in my opera, and I agree to pay you, then you back out. I can do a lot of things – not pay you, of course, charge you damages, etc., depending on what’s in the contract, but I cannot chain you up and force you to come sing. Similarly, if I agree to come to your business and not leave, you can penalize me in many ways for leaving, but if you try to literally bar exit, you will not be on solid ground.

    Returning to the 16 year old at Chuckie Cheese – do they have all the doors locked, like the movie theaters you mention? I’m guessing not. In fact, they have emergency exits which can’t be locked. (You might remember a certain factory which became famous for not letting employees leave, and literally locking them in, and then had a fire.) So will they run to cover those exits and physically restrain her?

    If you were to lock me into your business and claim I agreed to it, and therefore simply can’t leave, I would call the police. In fact, I’m pretty sure there is a word for doing something like that.

  92. JR September 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm #

    “How fire codes were they?”

    Let me tell you – “All your fire codes are belong to us.”

  93. Carrie Wolfgang September 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    Who goes to Chuck E Cheese anymore, anyway? I went there once, when I was 12, in 1985, and was bored off my A$$
    That said, I agree with the letter writer

  94. Xena_Rulz September 2, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    PEDO = pedophile, see also any male

  95. Papilio September 2, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    @Lollipoplover: “Pedo is someone who prays for you. Or on you.”

    Ah! I wondered what was going on with my scale this morning.

    “But I’m just waiting for Hineata to join in the conversation and defend her sheep.”

    That’s what I thought! 😀

    @JR: I know, I know… But no pity for this one >:-]

    @JR & Hineata: I looked for something completely different and found ‘chuck’!

  96. John September 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    @Dhewco…….you know Dhewco, it’s really sad. Like you, I LOVE engaging kids in conversation just to hear how life is from their point of view AND to maybe give them a bit of my wisdom on life…..ha ha. I also like kidding around with kids but you’ve got to be very careful doing that here in the United States. People will look on you as some kind of creep. For example, a lady I work with says she doesn’t like it when people talk to her 8-year-old son in the grocery store line and say such nefarious things like, “Are you helping mommy shop today?” She’s convinced that many of those people have bad intentions. So where do I begin to bring her into perspective? It’s typical American mentality.

    A couple of years ago when I was in the Philippines, I came across a group of kids on the street. They ranged in age from about 7 on up to 12 and they understood and spoke some English. They were out washing cars and selling trinkets and just doing kid things when they saw me walking back to the hotel. So they ran up to me and started engaging me in conversation. I was having lots of fun talking and joking around with them! I asked the two younger boys who looked around 7- and 8-years-old, “So are you the two little boo boo bears of the bunch?” Well, the older kids then broke out laughing and the two little boys kind of looked at each other with a confused look on their face and then looked at me with a big smile and just rolled their eyes! It was quite cute.

    In the U.S. if you’re fortunate enough to even find a bunch of kids on the street, they’d be startled as hell if an adult engaged them in innocent conversation because they’ve been brainwashed to believe that every adult they don’t know is dangerous!

  97. bob magee September 2, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    Internet and smart phones allows people from many different places to read the same news, so a crime committed in NY can be read about in California in real time (that is, everyone has access to news at same time.

    This means folks in California can chat about crime in NY as if it was local (“did you read about…) just as New Yorkers can.

    This heightens awareness of specific crimes and gives the illusion it is widespread – even when it clearly is not.

    Think of the Ebola “epidemic”. People were panicked in CT (where I live) because we are bordering NY state. Someone even said to me they were worried because they flew to Dallas the same week a case of Ebola was diagnosed in TX.

    But you know what? It was never close to being anything other than a sensationally covered news story. How do we know? Because in an epidemic you DON’T know everyone’s name!!

    This is so much like stories of horribles done to children. We refer to cases by name and that personalizes the story. It doesn’t, however, make that type of crime more prevalent.

    In terms of Chuck E Cheese and stamping kids, I am confused by the parents who like that policy because it allows their kids to roam around without their supervision. It implies they do believe that absent that system some harm will befall their child at a place designed for children and their families. The stamp only prevents children from leaving without corresponding stamped adult. Or is the stamp system really for the protection of the employees? That is, did CEC regularly allow unsupervised children to leave the premises and they needed to rein in their own staff’s behavior?

    Does CEC allow children admission who are not accompanied by adults? This policy would seem to say no, so it would be simple enough for CEC staff to stop any child from leaving unaccompanied by an adult – stamp or no stamp?

    Is the non-custodial parent issue really common?

    The sad truth is NONE of these rules and regulations are for the protection of anyone but CEC.

    Fear of lawsuits and liability claims is the driving force behind every caution, prohibition and warning in the place.

    THAT’S the world we now live in

  98. Dhewco September 2, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Yeah, careful’s the word. Personally, I’d go with paranoid. Paranoid that these parents are going to be so freaking suspicious of anyone who wants contact with their kids.

    News agencies seem to report that there’s a sex offender on every city block, but don’t tell you that the public urinator is not a danger to their kids. Uncle Freddy is.

    I was a studious bookworm/researcher type as a kid. I was a victim of a ‘family friend’/neighbor (an older, tougher teen who was the son of my Dad’s best friend). Back then, I started to research every thing I could on people in my situation. It appeared to me that the studies said even back then that most of the abuse was happening at home or to someone the kid knew. What’s worse, every study appeared to show that abuse victims repeat their abuse on other kids.

    As I got older, I started to internalize everything. The mere thought that someone would think I could actually do that to a kid ate at me. Here’s an example. About two years after I was assaulted, that family moved and a set of grandparents moved into the house. The older boy (about 8 at the time) began to look up to me as a big brother. When we rode the bus, he sat beside me and laid his head on my lap to take a nap. I thought it adorable and touching. I felt loved. It was the best part of my day sometimes.

    The woman bus driver started watching us as she drove (enough I kinda worried she’d wreck or something). I felt the paranoia creep up the first time. I wasn’t doing anything. It was completely innocent. After two months, she moved the boy to the front of the bus as far from me as she could. I don’t understand what she thought she was accomplishing. The boy would put his books in his house, get a snack and then run down the road to see what I was doing. If I intended harm, I wouldn’t do it surrounded by screaming kids of all ages.

    Anyway, I started backing off the boy’s friendship. When he came to my house, I’d pretend to be busy and send him home. I’d still do stuff with him at his home from time to time, but I wouldn’t allow him to be with me outside of his gp’s yard. I was just so worried that someone would accuse me of wrongdoing. After all, what ‘healthy’ teen wants to have a boy 7-8 years younger than him around him?

    I seem to have lost my point somewhere…sorry. Okay, I’ll close with this. I don’t think there’s any way to walk America back from this attitude. At this point, it’s too ingrained in us. As our population grows, it’s only going to become more so.


  99. Gina September 2, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Have to disagree with Lenore hear. In fact, i would say this policy gives more freedom to kids at a younger age because it provides parents a way to allow their kids to wander off on their own.

  100. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    ““OK, I’ll bite. How fire codes were they?”
    Fire codes generally prohibit locking designated exits in public places (and there have to be designated exits).
    This line from the fire code of Pennsylvania (where I live) seems to be typical:
    “No lock or other device which prevents egress shall be permitted on the doors during any period of occupancy.”

    You asked “how far it could go”, not “what is the usual situation (although, you’ll note, I answered both.)
    For “how far it can go”, I tried to imagine the scenario where, in a privately-operated area open to the public, the operators of the space would be most restrictive. In those spaces, the results you get are what was described… try to open the door, it won’t open because it is locked, and the staff will actively prevent you from opening the door, going so far as to subdue you and hold you by force until law enforcement personnel can arrive, at which point, you will be taken away. Fire codes do not apply (federal law applies, and preempts state laws).
    You asked a question, didn’t like the answer, and proceeded to ignore the answer that you couldn’t ridicule.

    Have a nice day, anyway..

  101. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    “In terms of Chuck E Cheese and stamping kids, I am confused by the parents who like that policy because it allows their kids to roam around without their supervision. It implies they do believe that absent that system some harm will befall their child at a place designed for children and their families.”

    The fear is that the child will leave without the parent’s knowledge, as it is difficult to keep track of one particular child amongst a crowd of hundreds of them, running and playing. If I were to (shudder) take a child into a CEC, I don”t have to worry about the child leaving… either under the arm of some horrible predator, or with a group of friends, or another familiy, without my knowledge. The check-in/check-out system says absolutely nothing about the safety of the premises… it says that you’re going to leave with the same kid(s) you came in with, and vice versa. It doesn’t say a child is unsafe inside. It doesn’t say a child is unsafe outside. It just says that kids should leave with the same adults they came in with.

    The local grocery/department stores (Fred Meyer, now a part of the Kroger system) offer supervised child “care” in the stores, so you can come in, check your kids in, do your shopping, and then check your kids out. They use basically the same hand-stamp system, except, of course, that the parents stay on the outside.

    I figure the real purpose is to spare the staff (and everybody else near the exit) from having to figure out the difference between “I don’t want to go! I want to stay here and blow another $20 of tokens!” tantrums from “I don’t want to go WITH YOU!” hysterics.

  102. Gina September 2, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Clearly Emma is a troll. Why else would she follow a blog with which she so vehemently disagrees. Can we all decide to ignore her until she goes away?

  103. James Pollock September 2, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    “So your scenario, while perhaps possible in some weird alternate-universe CEC that takes its cues from the Soviet Union, is not even remotely likely to occur in real life.”

    You find this “not even remotely likely to occur in real life”?
    “More commonly? Out you go, setting off the alarms; you get banned from returning.”

    What does Google have to say about it?

  104. Puzzled September 3, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    That Google search returns some odd results; oddly, a number of rather racist blog posts, and of course – somehow – complaints about Barack Obama.

    “At which point you will be taken away” – well, the point was to leave, after all. But something about this seems to imply that you’ll be arrested – for what exactly? Even if the bizarre argument that you have agreed to a contract by entering – and that contracts are enforced by forcing performance rather than assessing penalties for nonperformance – is accepted, it’s still a civil matter. There is no circumstance under which leaving a private business is a crime, unless the area outside the doors has been declared off-limits for some reason – perhaps a Presidential motorcade or a crime scene or something.

    Actually, I’ve been thinking about not letting the 16 year old leave (that doesn’t look quite right) and how it works with the hand-stamping. If she entered alone, then there’s no adult with a matching hand-stamp. So why did they let her leave at all, on the word of some random adult without a matching hand-stamp?

  105. James Pollock September 3, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    ““At which point you will be taken away” – well, the point was to leave, after all. But something about this seems to imply that you’ll be arrested – for what exactly?”
    I’d have to look it up. But yes, “taken away” = “arrested” was the proper inference.

    “Even if the bizarre argument that you have agreed to a contract by entering”
    Hardly bizarre. However, you’re in the wrong area of law… it’s property law, not contract law, that would be applied.

    “contracts are enforced by forcing performance rather than assessing penalties for nonperformance”
    Enforced by whom? The typical case is the opposite… no entry unless you agree to these terms, and failure to agree to these terms means you get ejected. If you are disrupting the performance, they don’t sue you, they tell you to leave, and, in some environments, will back that up by picking you up and removing you from the premises.

    “There is no circumstance under which leaving a private business is a crime”
    I told you that the scenario I described was a real one. It is real, and attempting to open the doors will get you subdued (by force, if necessary) and arrested. I’m going to let you try to figure out what it is, if you care enough to try. When I talk about it, you’ll say, “well, yes, OF COURSE, in that EXTREME case, what you said is right, but we’re talking about more TYPICAL cases…”

    I was asked to describe the extreme case. I did so. You (and several others) have proceeded as if I was claiming that it was typical. If you want to attack what I claimed was typical, attack the case I actually claimed WAS typical, and stop being surprised that the extreme case I was asked to provide is an extreme case.

    Also, stop confusing “things they can do whether they have your consent to do them or not” with “things they can do if you’ve consented”, because these are two different things. If you go into a business, and they take your money and then hit you in the face… it makes a difference if you’re in a jewelry store or a mixed-martial arts dojo, because only one of them has your consent to try to hit you in the face (unless, of course, you’ve given consent to being hit in the face to your jeweler.)

  106. SteveS September 3, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    A little late to this party, but I agree with the posters that say that this is security theater. I have only been to CEC a handful of times. My grandmother took me there in the early 80’s and I have been there for a few parties in the last 5 or 6 years. It isn’t my favorite place, but I can see how kids might like it. That being said, the exit policy seemed to be excessive to me, considering that I am able to bring my kids to a variety of entertainment venues and function just fine without having to be checked to leave.

    As for the signs, they create the illusion of safety and give the impression that CEC is doing something. The only guns and weapons it keeps out are the permit holders, who are generally a law abiding group. The people that illegally carry guns or the ones that intend to hurt others aren’t going to be deterred by a sign. They are already risking a felony. If it was really to deter the tiny fraction of people that open carry, they could have just done what other businesses have done and ban open carry, specifically.

    As for trying to stop a patron from leaving with force, they can’t. Warren is 100% correct. If they asked you to stop and you kept going, there is nothing they can do, legally, from preventing you from leaving. There are some very limited circumstances where you can be detained, but those center around shoplifting and theft and wouldn’t apply here. In many cases, stores won’t attempt to stop people that have stolen because of the liability involved. They will turn over their evidence to the police and let them handle it. Regardless, if a CEC employee used force to prevent you from leaving with your child, not only would that be a criminal act, it would be a tort.

  107. RG September 3, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Not sure if somebody already posted this, but in most states because we have crazy and stupid gun laws, anyone can carry a weapon into any place where the public is allowed unless that public place puts up signs banning them. Often, the administrative code gives particulars of the size and content of the signs, and they usually make them giant and irritating as a way to try to stop businesses from putting them up. My innocuous office building has giant “No Guns Allowed” signs on every single door, so that the building security has a legal leg to stand on if someone tries to come in carrying their weapon. Even then, it is totally AGAINST THE LAW for my office building to ban guns in the parking lot, which is their private property – so when I have to fire somebody, which I often do, I get to live with the fear that they will trot out to the parking lot, grab their weapon, and shoot ’em up while they’re still good and angry at me.

    I know this is Free Range Kids – sorry I’m going on a separate rant, but this is crazy to me. The default is Guns Everywhere. It’s not Chuck E. Cheese’s fault, it’s state legislators’ fault.

  108. SteveS September 3, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    So, in all of the many times you have fired someone, how often have you been shot at?

    At the risk of getting off topic, it isn’t true that “anyone” can carry a gun. There is an extensive list of people that are prohibited from even owning a gun. In a majority of states, there are additional prohibitions on who can carry one. Regardless, do you really think a sign is going to stop someone that is intent on committing murder?

  109. JR September 3, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    @James –

    The “exit doors must be unlocked during business hours” is not strictly a state code, although many states have adopted it as part of their fire codes. It is actually an OSHA requirement, which puts it in the “federal” category that you prize so highly. Strike 1.

    Practice some reading comprehension. I clearly referred to the “Soviet alternate-universe scenario” as the one where CEC has locked all their egress doors (in violation of federal law, no less!) and has hired reverse bouncers to keep people inside against their will. Strike 2.

    You realized your mistake as well, and that’s why you tried to slip in “you’ll get banned from returning” in a comment that was supposed to be about how one will be “prevented from leaving.” The words ‘returning’ and ‘leaving’ have two very different meanings. Since you’re clearly a fan of the dictionary, I’ll leave you to look them up yourself. Strike 3.

    Looks like you struck out…

  110. Puzzled September 3, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    >Enforced by whom? The typical case is the opposite… no entry unless you agree to these terms, and failure to >agree to these terms means you get ejected. If you are disrupting the performance, they don’t sue you, they tell >you to leave, and, in some environments, will back that up by picking you up and removing you from the >premises.

    Exactly the point!

    I’m not going to try to figure out your extreme case – a private prison contractor, maybe, or a privately run rehab or mental health facility – because we were talking about Chuckie Cheese, which is none of those. The question was about a 16 year old who was told “you ma not leave this arcade.”

    As for the dojo – of course there’s a difference between what you can do to someone with consent vs. without consent. The issue is that consent is not perpetual – it can be withdrawn, earlier than the counter party wishes to see it withdrawn. I can consent to be locked in your business – say, one of those places where they “lock you in a room” and you have to solve a mystery to get out – but I can then withdraw my consent and they’ll let me out, just like the sensai can’t keep beating on me as I’m trying to leave and shouting “I do not consent to this martial arts class anymore.”

    But consent does raise yet another issue. We don’t generally let minors enter into binding agreements, and their consent often doesn’t carry the weight of an adult’s consent. If a minor enters alone, and no parent agrees to the terms, are we saying the minor agreed to not leave except under certain circumstances? I’m not clear that a minor can enter into such an agreement.

  111. lollipoplover September 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    About the items prohibited:
    We hear daily about increasing regulations and bans leading up to the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia.
    They have a ban on selfie sticks.
    So, no selfie with the Pope after putting up with the security madness for the past 6 months? Boooo!!!

  112. Papilio September 3, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    @Gina: “Clearly Emma is a troll. […] Can we all decide to ignore her until she goes away?”

    Does that mean we can’t make fun of her either?

  113. Puzzled September 3, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    Oddly, Vatican City manages to function in the Pope’s presence, but Philadelphia doesn’t seem to have this ability.

  114. lena September 3, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

    “It suggests that kidnappings and abductions are a regular occurrence.”

    not it does not. even various tv shows have joked about situations where child A (or A, B and C) are are playing and the adult is frazzled and cannot keep up with everyone. Then when he or she finally gets every one in the car there is an extra child that is clearly not his/her’s.

    it’s funny on tv but terrifying in real life- the hand stamp is an easy fix. this article writer needs to lighten up.

  115. James Pollock September 3, 2015 at 8:02 pm #

    “But consent does raise yet another issue. We don’t generally let minors enter into binding agreements, and their consent often doesn’t carry the weight of an adult’s consent. If a minor enters alone, and no parent agrees to the terms, are we saying the minor agreed to not leave except under certain circumstances? I’m not clear that a minor can enter into such an agreement.”

    You’re still looking at the wrong area of law… contracts, instead of property. (And BTW, we absolutely DO generally let minors enter into binding agreements. Lots of them. All the time. Unless you live somewhere where the stores refuse service to minors.)

  116. James Pollock September 3, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

    “The “exit doors must be unlocked during business hours” is not strictly a state code, although many states have adopted it as part of their fire codes. It is actually an OSHA requirement, which puts it in the “federal” category that you prize so highly.”

    If you’re going to lecture people about “reading comprehension”, you have to display some. I described a REAL PLACE, one that DOES NOT have such OSHA codes.
    Popped up to the shortshop.

    “I clearly referred to the “Soviet alternate-universe scenario” as the one where CEC has locked all their egress doors (in violation of federal law, no less!) and has hired reverse bouncers to keep people inside against their will.”
    Um, good for you? I didn’t. I quote the text I’m responding to.
    Fouled out to the first base side.

    “You realized your mistake as well, and that’s why you tried to slip in “you’ll get banned from returning” in a comment that was supposed to be about how one will be “prevented from leaving.”

    Try to follow along. I was asked to describe “as far as it can go”, that is, an extreme case. I did that.
    I then ALSO described what would be the far more common case.
    You’ve chosen to act as if I claimed that the extreme case (that I was asked for, remember) is the typical case. Are you arguing poorly because you can’t follow along, or because you think it suits your purposes to do so?

    In any case, weak dribbler to the pitcher, thrown out by 8 steps. And that retires the side.

    Once more for the slow… I provided an extreme case. It’s an extreme case, but it’s real. If you try to leave after they close the doors, they will stop you from doing so, subduing you by force if necessary. They will call law-enforcement, who will respond, and who will arrest you not them.

    Once more for the VERY slow: It’s an extreme case. I know it’s an extreme case. I was asked for “as far as it can go”, so I looked for “as far as it can go”. Yes, I know that “as far as it can go” and “how does it usually go” are different questions. I answered the one, then (unasked) threw in the other answer, for free, at no extra cost.

    And once for JR: You’re digging yourself deeper, trying to insist that the real (did I mention it’s real) scenario I described as the extreme case doesn’t exist. I’m going to let you keep doing so because… when I get around to telling you what it is, I look forward to your excuses about how laughably wrong you are, with “OSHA regulations” that the door be unlocked, nor “fire codes” that the door be unlocked. and that these things don’t apply for good and obvious reasons.

    Meanwhile, Play Ball!

  117. James Pollock September 3, 2015 at 8:33 pm #

    “Oddly, Vatican City manages to function in the Pope’s presence, but Philadelphia doesn’t seem to have this ability.”

    Well, sure, and Boston, Detroit, Chicago, and Denver manage to function in the snow, but Los Angeles and Miami not nearly as well. Seattle panics and calls it a “blizzard” if three snowflakes are in the air simultaneously, and 3/4 of an inch is enough to bring the city to a standstill.

  118. Puzzled September 4, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    I live somewhere that does not allow minors to sign checks, or in fact have their signature mean much of anything, and that arrests minors for possession of child porn for taking pictures of themselves (and then charges them as adults.) Yet apparently, it is claimed, a minor can, simply by walking into a building, consent to be held against their will.

    I still want an answer to the more pressing question, though. If she came in alone, there is no one with a matching hand stamp. Why let her leave at all? Why let, from their perspective, some random adult come up and say “she’s cool”? If ‘children’ are not supposed to leave except with an adult with a matching hand-stamp, then according to their policies, she should still be inside.

    Yes, some cities are used to know and others aren’t. I live in CT and used to live in TX, and update NY before that. I was quite surprised, my first winter in TX, when every major highway shut down and I was stuck in Houston after a light flurry fell. But the Pope is not a natural disaster. Those cities don’t have things like adequate plows or sand/salt trucks. Popes don’t require any specific equipment that Philadelphia lacks. It’s not like the Vatican owns a bunch of Pope-plows. Also, they’re not even allowing Pope-selfies. First no tiger selfies, then no ballot selfies, and now no Pope selfies? Crazy.

    Anyway, Philadelphia has handled famous visitors before, with far less fuss. From what I see, they are treating this more seriously than a Presidential visit. That strikes me as odd.

  119. James Pollock September 4, 2015 at 1:00 am #

    “the Pope is not a natural disaster.”

    Neither is 3/4″ of snow.

  120. hineata September 4, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    @Puzzled – am not even a Catholic, and I know it’s off topic, but really, the Pope is rather more important than the US President, who is after all only an elected official of a single country.

  121. hineata September 4, 2015 at 1:50 am #

    By which I just mean that no wonder the security theatre has been greater. It’s ridiculous around just the President.

    Meanwhile our PM, who is pretty much unrecognized outside of the country, can wander around pretty much as he feels like. A Chuck E Cheese probably has more of a security detail than him. :-).

  122. JR September 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    @James –

    Ohhh… sorry. Using a lot of baseball words doesn’t change the fact you’re still playing in your own fantasy league. Maybe there’s a team in North Haverbrook that could use your skills.

  123. James Pollock September 4, 2015 at 6:16 pm #

    “Ohhh… sorry. Using a lot of baseball words doesn’t change the fact you’re still playing in your own fantasy league.”

    Didn’t change the fact that you were incredibly wrong, either.

    Let’s play two!

  124. David September 5, 2015 at 6:14 am #

    @Andrea: You had the absolute right to leave by yourself. If they had attempted to keep you from leaving, they would have be guilty of the crime of unlawful restraint.

  125. Kerri September 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    The sign about weapons is required in certain states where it is legal to open carry in public. When I first moved to AZ, I was on a bus and saw a sign that said no weapons/guns allowed. At first I thought it was a joke… of course you can’t bring your gun on the bus… come to find out, there are many public places you can open carry. And an establishment has to specifically opt out by posting a sign. I’m really not worried about a planned shooting at Chuck E. Cheese, but I also don’t want guns out in a place filled with toddlers ramped up on sugar. 🙂

  126. catinacat September 9, 2015 at 12:57 am #

    I agree with Richard, I feel more comfortable going to Chuck E Cheese, because they do have this in place. If I did go, which I do not, as we have been to the Wichita one once.. and it was filthy, I was more concerned with the fear of listeria, or some sort of stomach bug, as there was poo splattered all over the bathroom stalls, and just imagine how quickly those germs spread to the gaming machines, door handles, and such..YUCK. NO thanks!