Where a kid can be a kid, and a parent can order chicken wings
On my fourth birthday, my parents took me to this place called Celebration Station. It had a giant stage where robotic animals played music while you ate pizza.
Outside the stage area there was an arcade from the golden age with video games like Pac-Man, Q-bert and Donkey Kong. I was also first introduced to the classic bowling-type game called skee-ball. I was in heaven.
It’s one of my earliest memories, and even today I can sometimes recall that excitement when I walk into these types of places.
I noticed they have one on Mishawaka, too.
Even though I grew up a Celebration Station kid, I am no stranger to Chuck E. Cheese’s, either. My cousins, who lived in Dallas, had one and we would often visit when my family went on vacation there. It was almost the same as Celebration Station but a little bigger.
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They had this whole room for kids only, where you could run around jump in the ball pits, climb in the playground tunnels and zip-line around the area. They even had this room with a white wall that you would stand against while a strobe light flashed. When the light stopped flashing, your shadow would remain on the wall for a few minutes.
These days I have two boys of my own, and when birthdays come up it is automatic that we make a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s. This last week my oldest had his own fourth birthday, so we rounded up the grandparents and headed out to the Mishawaka location.
It seems like the place is a shell of its former self. Gone are the video games in the arcade, replaced with ticket-generating carnival type games. The animatronics also seem old and slow. Due to the cost of royalties, they no longer play popular songs but instead stick to their own “original” music.
The kids still love the place, though, and as long as there’s have skee-ball, pizza and beer, I’m good with going there.
Chuck E. Cheese’s also serves wings now, so I’d figured I would check them out for the blog.
The wings are oven baked — it even says it right on the menu. They brought me what was essentially a pile of crumbs. OK, they weren’t that bad, but they were definitely some of the smallest wings I have ever seen.
I had ordered the buffalo wings, but I must have gotten the plain ones, as these seemed to have no sauce and no heat to them at all.
At first they didn’t seem too bad. They looked good, with a nice golden brown color and a crispy skin. The was a sprinkle of seasoning on them with about the perfect amount of salt.
It’s when I got to the chicken part that things started to go wrong. The inner chicken was kind of mushy and tasted kind of “off.” It was a good thing the wings had that seasoning on them, because it masked the lack of freshness from the chicken.
The price is pretty high, too. In my Harry’s Chocolate Shop blog I mentioned that getting wings there was like going to Disneyland and complaining about the price of food. Well, this ain’t exactly Disneyland, but as long as I see the kids falling asleep in the car after a fun night out, all hungover on skee-ball and air hockey, it somehow makes the CPU of 100 cents OK.
Let’s face it — as adults, the Chuck E. Cheese’s/Celebration Station/Showbiz Pizza type places are not like they used to be, but the kids still seem to like them. I would suggest sticking with the pizza, but if for some reason you do not like pizza, go ahead and order some wings. Even when wings are bad, they are still pretty good.