Workers reveal what it's really like to work at Chuck E. Cheese's

Whether or not you're a parent, chances are you've been to a Chuck E. Cheese's birthday party at some point in your life. And whether or not you're a parent, chances are you would rather have poked yourself in the eye than spent one more second with Chuck E. and his singing entourage. If you feel that way, imagine how the employees feel.

Thanks to the internet, we don't have to imagine any longer. Employees (or should we say "alleged" employees as we have no real way to verify their identities) can take to Reddit to anonymously air all of Chuck E.'s dirty laundry without fear of any repercussions from their employer. And yes, it's as bad as you thought.

You definitely won't be disappointed by the all the stories of bodily fluids, inappropriate behavior, and scandalous acts that these Redditors claim happen in the pizza parlor, at the ticket counter, and in the ball pit — in fact, you'll be horrified.

They deal with a lot of poop

Amongst countless Reddit threads, one of the most often discussed horrors of working at Chuck E. Cheese's is the astounding amount of bodily fluids you encounter. It probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise —  when you've got a bunch of little kids running around excitedly, there's a good chance that there will be an accident, whether it be a baby's diaper blow-out or a toddler who just couldn't make it to the bathroom on time. But to have the confirmation is a little unnerving, and definitely makes you think twice about letting your own children roam the play area unsupervised. 

One Chuck E. Cheese's employee explained the grim reality of this part of their job, saying, "Kids were constantly puking/peeing/pooping in the tubes. Finding said excrement was like playing a terrible game of Where's Waldo, you had to crawl on your hands and knees in poorly ventilated plastic play tubes hoping your hands and knees didn't find the poop/pee/vomit before your eyes did."

Another Redditor put it very simply, using Chuck E.'s own slogan against him: "It was just a place where kids could be kids. And that included poop. More poop than you would expect."

The mouse suit is gross

You might think that putting on the Chuck E. costume would be a fun way to break up the monotony of serving subpar pizza or waiting ever-so-patiently at the prize counter while a child calculates exactly how many cheap plastic toys they can get with their 437 tickets. But it turns out the donning the mouse head isn't such a dream, after all.

One former employee deemed it the "worst part" of their job, saying, "It was so hot that you are dripping sweat and there is nothing you can do about it. Then the suit smells like every other person who wore the suit and dripped all up in it." Another agreed, simply saying that the costume "smells like the inside of a cast."

Aside from the odor issue, the heat build-up inside the suit can be a real problem, too. One Redditor explained, "We had one incident that the poor soul assigned to Chuck E. duty for 5 hours (on a busy Sunday) had a heat stroke. He passed out… The paramedic threw my coworker behind the curtained stage and began ripping off the costume, throwing the head and outfit off stage to terrified children." Yikes.

You take a lot of abuse

As if it isn't enough that the mouse suit stinks to high heaven from all its prior occupants' sweat, you've also got to be on the lookout for kids looking to brawl with the mascot. A recurring theme amongst Chuck E. Cheese's employee horror stories is the amount of abuse they incurred while dressed as the mouse, and as you can imagine, often times that involved kids punching Chuck E. where it counts, if you catch our drift. 

One former worker explained that not only did the abuse happen frequently, but that because you're expected to stay in character, you couldn't speak up when it did. "Had a kid sprint across the floor and punch me so hard that the mask got knocked sideways like in the movies. That s**t hurts so much because it rips the Velcro and inner helmet around your face."

And it's not all fisticuffs. Sometimes it's being heckled by toddlers. The same Redditor continued, "My favorite is when a toddler (probably no older than 2) followed me around the store yelling "Chuck E is a stupid b***h!"

It's almost as if a giant rodent is terrifying to young children… ?

You deal with a lot of angry parents

While Chuck E. Cheese's might be a magical wonderland to children, all the flashing lights, dinging bells, and bad pizza can apparently start to wear on the parents. Add in the fact that some establishments serve alcohol (and some ignore the supposed two-drink limit), and it can be a recipe for disaster. Whether they had to physically intervene, or just witnessed a full-blown brawl, these workers definitely have some tea to spill. 

One former employee dished about a fight that broke out seemingly inexplicably, saying, "At cake time, CEC hosts will do a song and dance. During this delightful performance I see a woman punch another woman in the face. All of a sudden, the entire balcony is involved in this fight. Someone jumps on top of the balcony ledge and does a wrestling move on someone else (all adults)."

Another found themselves the target of the parents' anger, remembering, "Once when working the ticket price counter a father threatened to 'break my f***ing neck' because he thought I was rude to his son." 

And this poor Redditor had to step into the middle of the drama: "I had to physically get in-between a young guy and an elderly lady while they were fighting. Lady stole 3 tickets from dudes daughter and threw them in this girls face when I told her to return them." The competition is fierce when it comes to those coveted tickets. 

A lot of hanky panky goes on

Let's face it — when you have an establishment that is staffed mostly by young adults, a fair amount of tomfoolery is likely going on behind the scenes. It's almost to be expected. But surprisingly, it's not just the employees at Chuck E. Cheese's that get involved in a little hanky panky.

The play area is apparently a common spot for things to get steamy after hours. One former game room employee admitted, "I had sex in the tubes… We would close the place down and party. Drunk teenagers would go in the tubes, then start making out, and eventually, the whole structure would be rocking." And the ball pit wasn't off limits either. Another employee echoed a similar sentiment, saying, "There used to be sex in the ball pit. We were horny teenagers and our store managers were like 21/22 years old. It was a party when the store closed for the night, especially on the weekends."

As for the parents, well, they weren't so innocent themselves. According to this Redditor, "We served beer and wine, so drunken parents trying to bone in the bathroom was common."

The ball pits are a cesspool

After hearing a few fun facts about how much poop the workers at Chuck E. Cheese's encounter, and how employees are known to get down and dirty in the play area, it probably shouldn't come as too much of a shock that the ball pits are teeming with filth — but you might find a few other gross surprises, too. It's like the treasure chest you never wanted.

At the top of the list, of course, is exactly what'd you'd expect: "Little kids [poop] and [pee] in the ball pit all the time," one Redditor said. 

Aside from bodily fluids, you never know what might surface. From dirty diapers to used band-aids, Chuck E. Cheese's ball pits apparently has it all. One worker admitted, "I'm sure some of us accidentally left condoms behind."

But they must get cleaned on the regular, right? One former employee says "nope": "…just know that the ball pit is never cleaned. It's a pool of bodily fluid and rotting food." If it makes you feel any better, another Redditor did confirm that the ball pit was cleaned… once, by putting the balls in the back of a pick-up truck and driving it through the carwash. Hey, look on the bright side — once is better than never.

Turnover is high for a surprising reason

If you were fortunate enough to have worked at Chuck E. Cheese's in the old days, you probably got away with a lot more than you could have in this day and age, where technology abounds. Thanks to ever-present cameras, you're actually expected to behave yourself at work. What a drag, right? But perhaps somewhat surprisingly, it doesn't sound like employees really care whether or not they're caught in their acts of indiscretion, and according to this CEC technical manager, that amounts to a lot of firings. 

"A lot has changed, like cameras everywhere that district managers or corporate goons can look at whenever they want," the manager explained. "In other words, our turn around rate is much higher for cast members since they are always getting fired for having sex, drinking, or doing drugs at work."

It's hard to be too sympathetic considering that those are some pretty basic requirements of keeping your job. 

You have to deal with abandoned kids

Although it seems fairly obvious that signing up for a job as a Chuck E. Cheese's cast member is going to involve a fair amount of babysitting, you probably don't expect to have to deal with abandoned kids. But deal with abandoned kids, you do.

One former employee recalled, "There was one occasion where two girls came up to me and said they were lost… I stayed with these girls for almost half an hour, and we were ready to call the police when their mom showed up. She had 'just gone out to the car for a minute' and left them there alone. These girls were no older than 4 or 5, definitely not old enough to be left by themselves in an area full of randoms and no supervision."

Another, even scarier situation was explained by this Redditor, who said, "Once a family was there in a huge booth. They had a baby in a carseat. They left and forgot the baby. Not just like, got to the car and said, 'oh, s**t, we left the baby!' No, they didn't come back for hours. In the meantime, we had to call Department of Child and Family Services and the parents couldn't get the kid back when they showed up because he was in DCFS custody."

You might have to destroy Chuck E.'s head

"Ability to smash Chuck E.'s head to bits" just might be the most surprising part of the job description for Chuck E. Cheese's employees, and depending on how much they've come to hate that mouse suit, also might turn out to be the most satisfying part.

Though this isn't a widely discussed topic amongst former employees, the somewhat brow-raising practice came to light after Patch ran a video of workers destroying the mascot's head with sledgehammers. An employee at the recently shuttered location explained that it was company policy "to destroy Chuck E. Cheese's head and other branded items." 

Atlas Obscura spoke with intellectual property attorney Meredith Rose who explained, "If you own this intellectual property writ large, you don't want a secondary market to pop up. [You don't want] people selling animatronic Chuck E.'s on eBay." Makes perfect sense, but Loree Stark, a public interest attorney who previously worked for the company, offered that the practice also likely has to do with keeping the magic alive for the children. "If [kids] saw a random Chuck E. head floating around, that might be a little bit problematic." 

Whatever the case, just know that if you score a job with Chuck E., you might one day have to literally destroy him, like it or not.