Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chuck E. Cheese 5, Disneyland 0

Curse you, brand marketers! My son is going on 5, and there is nothing he wants more than a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party...not EVEN Disneyland. I'd managed to squirm around it 'til now...traveling on birthdays, throwing elaborate home parties, distracting with a thrill-filled Six Flags trip...but this year, the jig is up.

Dutifully, we headed out to the local Chuck E. Cheese (Burbank) to see how much fun it would be / how germ-infested it would be. No, we'd never been to the local C.E.C in the two years we've lived here. In fact, he'd only ever been to Chuck E. Cheese (elsewhere) twice in his life, so it is amazing to me how impacted he is with the Chuck E. Cheese brand. Where, When did they "get" to him? I'm a work-at-home Mom...I monitor everything! Could just two prior visits at ages 2 and 3 have had such an effect? I wondered...was it the brand marketing, or the experience itself?

As we enter the Burbank location, they have a Purell pump...on the way IN...what is this, reverse psychology?! We're bringing the germs? Okay, point taken. I scan the room...bright...open...and not overly noisy. This is already much better than the others. Oh, and there is only Chuck E. in the party room...he's a DJ now, and his creepy band of giant friends have disappeared.

I look to the play area and...can it be? Yes, there is an employee on a ladder wiping down the entire climbing apparatus. I pinch myself...yep, he's still there, and he is Sanitizing!

Kneeling down to unzip his coat, I ask my son what he loves about this place...he shrugs, as only an adorable about-to-be-five year old can.

"I get to just play and spend my own money."

In other words, he is free. From his non-germ-o-phobic perspective, this is a place where he can run free of Mommy, spend his own money, and not worry too much about stranger danger. In a word: Paradise.

With that, I grab a brochure, spend five bucks on tokens, and set my boy free...I have a party to plan.

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