Despite the screaming children, over-stimulation and highly-publicized guest feuds at Chuck E. Cheese's, the entertainment center is still a popular destination for families. Your local Chuck E. Cheese's location may or may not have lost the magic that you remembered as a kid, but Apollo Global Management is betting $950 million that you will indeed return with your kids.
Read More: Chuck E. Cheese Owner Agrees to $950M Buyout
Here are 13 of the magical things you didn't know or have forgotten about the chain, currently owned by CEC Entertainment, and why it may be worth $950 million.
|The founder of Atari started Chuck E. Cheese's.|
Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, started Chuck E. Cheese's in part as a way to encourage families to stay longer in video arcades, Reuters reported. He left the company in the mid-1980s. Bushnell hired Steve Jobs at Atari and later rejected an offer Jobs made to him for a 30 percent stake in Apple for $50,000.
|Let the games begin!|
The first Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre opened its doors in San Jose, Calif., in 1977, to provide an environment for families with young children.
|The robotic, yet magical, on-stage entertainment|
July 1989 marked the first time Helen Henny, Jasper T. Jowls, Pasqually and Mr. Munch himself joined Chuck E. on-stage at Studio C, and Munch's Make Believe band has been making music ever since.
|The big cheese himself.|
The current, contemporized mascot introduced in July 2012 is voiced by Bowling For Soup front man Jaret Reddick.
|Check your kids|
To provide a "wholesome, safe environment for family fun," Chuck E. Cheese's introduced its Kid Check program in 1994. "By stamping the hands of parents and guardians with a number that matches their child's when they enter a store, the Kid Check program is a special way to assist families in helping that everyone who comes together leaves together," a spokeswoman for the company said.
|Those glorious game tickets|
How many tickets can you win in one trip to Chuck E. Cheese's? One guest set a record winning 21,770 tickets in one night playing games.
|Chuck E. Cheese knows who's hip on the Web|
Since 2010, Chuck E. Cheese's said it has been working with a growing network of almost 700 bloggers across the U.S. and Canada as part of an effort to build "lasting relationships for its brand with key influencers that includes frequent and authentic engagement."
|Chuck E. Cheese's guests are very mobile|
In early 2013, CEC Entertainment tapped into "augmented reality technology," introducing its first-ever downloadable app Chuck E.'s Say Cheese! The attraction, which the company says "brings parents and kids into a Chuck E. performance like never before," earned recognition as a Mobile Excellence awards finalist later in the year.
|Chuck E. Cheese is hip on the Web|
In 2012, www.chuckecheese.com received more than 20 million visitors who reserved more than 450,000 birthday parties and played online games more than 18 million times.
Chuck E. Cheese's uses almost 85,000 pounds of pepperoni each month and 7.2 million pounds of fresh mozzarella on cheesy pizzas each year.
|Did we mention the pizza?|
The company introduced a new made-to-order pizza recipe in 2011 using fresh, never-frozen dough, a crispier crust and 100-percent real mozzarella cheese.
|Don't forget the pizza.|
"Bake-in-Bag" gluten-free cheese pizza and gluten-free chocolate cupcakes were added to the menu in 2012.
|Twenty years after your own party, there's no sign kids will ever stop liking birthday parties with Chuck E. Cheese.|
Of the 65 million annual visits, five million kids attended a Chuck E. Cheese's birthday party in 2012.
Which doesn't mean all kids love it. Allison Tate of Longwood, Fla., said her four children -- 11, 9, 6, 1 -- have mixed feelings about Chuck E. Cheese's.
"My older kids call it 'Chuck E. Disease' because of the germ factors involved and the 'sub-urban' legends involving kid vomit in the crawling tunnels," said Tate, a writer. "But my 6-year-old believes it is the greatest place ever. After trying very, very hard to find a better alternative, I have to admit - the place is pretty affordable."
Tate says her location is "well-monitored and feels safe, and it's not the worst way to spend a morning on a school holiday." But, she adds, "you could not pay me to step foot there on a Saturday."