Hurry! Before he gets here! Why Chuck E. Cheese needs to ditch the rat.

When my sister Kelly was little, she was terrified of Shamu. Not the actual whale, but the walking character at the park. My mom tried to ease her fears by assuring her, “Honey, it’s okay. It’s just a man inside there.”


We’ve always known Leyna is Kelly’s mini-soul. As a baby, Leyna looked at Aunt Kelly with suspicion and stayed at a distance, likely because she knows what her spirit is all about. It lives in her, too.

Her tantrums come from a lineage they share, and this morning she shushed us as we said good morning with, “You’re hurting my ears.” 

Aunt Kelly (in for a visit), also not a morning person, has vowed to adopt the very same response for anyone before 11 a.m. from now on.

So Leyna’s response at Chuck E. Cheese last weekend can be blamed on genetics, to a degree


On Sunday morning, we were invited to a party for one of Leyna’s classmates at the local Chuck E Cheese. To my surprise, the place had all new games and rides, and maybe even new carpet? I mean, it smelled a lot less like feet than the last time I was there.

It was pleasant. Leyna had a great time playing games, and was mostly happy until it was time to sit down for pizza and cake.


Ominous photo is ominous.

Okay, so the birthday tables are all near a stage with a giant animatronic Chuck E. Cheese with shifty eyes.

Can we just discuss why is it our society hasn’t progressed beyond animatronics that are as horrifying as I recall from my own childhood, back when we still had to rewind VHS before returning them to Blockbuster?

I mean, we have the internet and Hulu now. Our babies can operate iPads by they time they are 1. Please take and burn every animatronic character. The children are more advanced now. KEEP UP.

“I don’t want him looking at me, “ she said while nervously clinging to me.



I did my best to block her view of his shifty, shady eyes and robotic motions while she happily scarfed down pizza and orange soda.

Then the attendant brought out the cake, and excitedly said, “Is everyone ready for Chuck E Cheese to come out and dance with you?!”

Within a minute we went from a happy, normal 4 year old to a SCARED OUT OF HER DAMN MIND.

“No, I don’t want to see him,” she said over and over. I offered to take her to the other side of the room to play more games when he came out, but instead she started yelling at the attendant- “DON’T LET HIM COME OUT! TELL HIM NOT TO COME OUT!”

“Mommy, we have to go get in the car.”

“Well, if we get in the car we have to go home,” I said, thinking that would calm her because we hadn’t even had cake yet so obviously that should work.

“Okay. We go home now. Let’s go,” and she got up and started RUNNING to the exit.

I’m emptying my pockets of tickets and tokens and apologizing to the hosts, wishing the little boy a happy birthday, and she is screaming over her shoulder, “HURRY BEFORE HE GETS HERE!”



That escalated quickly.


I think we need to address WHY DOES THE ACTUAL CHUCK E CHEESE EXIST? 

Let’s ignore the fact that there is only ONE giant personified rodent that anyone likes. He’s been engrained in our brains and culture long before any of our kids were born, and HE’S CUTE. It’s something about the ratio of the ears to eyes, and maybe because he’s short?

The CEC… rat?? Is not. Not cute. And so tall and skinny and scary looking. And our kids don’t see him enough to feel like, Oh hey! That’s the rat that’s printed on my training pants and yogurt container!

If you’re not going to really up your branding efforts, CEC, and get the kids used to your rodent from a very young age, you need to just…. not… with that.

I vote that you just stop with the mascot thing altogether. No more costumes, no more paying employees to dress up in the costume. No more animatronic rats with shifty eyes. No more. Stop.

Honestly, the place really wasn’t bad. It was fun! It was clean! It didn’t smell like feet! All was going fine. UNTIL THE RAT.

Like, why don’t you adopt a chunk of cheddar as your mascot? Don’t give it eyes or make anyone dress up like it. Just a giant, soft chunk of fake cheese. The kids can hug it. Or not.

I want to like you! And I want my daughter to not run, screaming from you.



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  1. Just this morning I was filling out registration for summer day camp and had to answer the question, “Does your child have any fears?” For both of my sons it was a quick “Bees and MASCOTS.”

  2. Shannah Doerner on

    The last time I was at a Chuck E. Cheese was about four years ago and the damn animatronic animals sang Justin Beiber. That alone was enough to scare me.

  3. Kelly Adkins Nixon on

    This made. my. day! I got the visual of Leyna hauling ass out of there and could not stop laughing. **sorrynotsorry fellow office people**
    And the rat must go. Why? It’s a rat. They are not our friends.

  4. Stacy Keen Hodgson on

    Sometimes I am thankful that my darling youngest son has some special needs that keep him from being able to handle situations like Chuck E Cheese well so we don’t have to be subjected to the creepy things your darling Leyna went through.

  5. Megan McNellie Fine on

    Our last, and only time at Chuck E Cheese, my daughter stood up, yelled “CHUCK E CHEESE IS CREEPY!” and ran for the door. We will still drive by and she will look grimly at the building and say “That is the place where that creepy mouse lives.”

  6. Mandy Nethercut Wertz on

    This. Except for EVERY mascot…easter bunny, Santa, the dinosaur at the museum…every man in a character outfit! And he is 5.

  7. Devon Alysha Stoker on

    Before it was CEC, it was Showbiz pizza here in TX. They had a band of anamatronic characters including a big gorilla-ish thing. He played the drums I think. Story has it I was super-afraid of him/them as a child. Little bit creeped out by remembering this. I feel her pain 😉

  8. Tracy Harper Kistler on

    LOL we missed a cec birthday party last weekend. Maybe that was a good thing??? Last time I was there I was 19 and had to climb up in the damn rat maze and get my terrified 3 year old cousin out while some punk ass little kid felt the need to tell me I was too big to play in there.

  9. OMG! Leyna is a kindred spirit. Jill I kid you not…a few years ago we did an end of the summer counselor activity at CEC. The rat came out and I hid behind one of the counselor guys and cried….I was 25 years old at the time! People in costumes terrify me, except real Disney characters.

  10. Jessicake Shopkins on

    Chuck E Cheese was once Showbiz Pizza and there was a creepy lion thing with overalls and a scary gorilla and girl mouse with so much lipstick ew gross and ah scary

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