Whether you have fond memories of a childhood birthday party at Chuck E Cheese or just remember the sheer terror of wondering when the characters were going to come out (oh wait, was that just me?), Chuck E Cheese is a cultural icon for many Americans who either went there as kids, took their own kids, or are still taking their kids (trust me, I went in 2018 – it still exists!)
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
I was a terribly fearful child which meant I literally asked a waitress one time when the characters were coming out on stage so I could go HIDE IN THE BALL PIT. I wish I were making that up.
For that reason, I haven’t sought out a Chuck E Cheese in the UK, but as it is basically the best place to hold a child’s birthday to this day, I thought I’d help answer the question…
“Is there a Chuck E Cheese in the UK or England or London?”
The answer is no. There is no Chuck E Cheese in London, England, or the entirety of the UK. I’ll let that sink in for a moment while you cry.
Before we get too far in to discussing Chuck E Cheese in the UK, I just wanted to point you in the direction of some resources I’ve put together for anyone coming to the UK either for a short term visit or to be an expat here.
It takes everything you think you know about the UK and either explains it or shows you what you’re really getting yourself into (major small talk and frequent tea breaks, woo!)
In addition to Watching the English, you can read some more of my advice below on all sorts of topic including how to adjust to culture shock in a natural way, whether you should rent a car and drive here as an American (DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE A NERVOUS DRIVER), and how to tell UK money apart so you won’t look like a tourist fumbling around in your wallet with coins falling all over the place.
- Culture Shock: The Things We Don’t Talk About
- An American Girl’s Guide to Surviving the London Underground
- Understanding UK Money: Pence, Not Cents!
- Driving in England as an American: An Apology to UK Drivers
Anyway, moving on to the delightfulness of Chuck E Cheese and its history.
History of Chuck E Cheese
If you’ve been to a Chuck E Cheese, you know that it is basically a bunch of arcade games including my favorites like Skee Ball, usually a dedicated children’s play area, lots of tables and a restaurant style seating area near the main stage, and some animatronics or costumed characters up front.
Chuck E Cheese is mostly known for being a children’s party venue, but you can also go there with your family if you are really into lots of loud noises and eating pizza while your kids play arcade games.
Chuck E Cheese was first a concept in 1977, when the first restaurant opened with a different name. Over time, it morphed into what it is today, and officially became Chuck E Cheese in 1990. (Well, actually, it was Chuck E Cheese Pizza back then, but the Pizza part was then dropped from the name, though not from menu).
Today, it has its headquarters in Irving, Texas and owns over 600 locations across the United States, South America, and the Middle East.
The concept still hasn’t changed, though there is less focus on the characters in some restaurants nowadays, with most of the emphasis being placed on the restaurant and the arcade. The arcade works by spitting out tickets you can redeem for prizes at the end, which is the best kind of arcade for every child over the age of like 3.
Equivalent to Chuck E Cheese in the UK
Chuck E Cheese has always remained a very American concept. There’s just something about the combination of arcade and pizza restaurant and animatronics that doesn’t seem like it would fit in the British market, and there are no Chuck E Cheeses in the UK.
If you’re looking for a direct equivalent, there isn’t one. Unlike where I can tell you that there are American diners here that could quell your craving for an IHOP in the UK or that you can go to ASDA instead of Walmart in the UK, I can’t come up with any restaurant arcades known for their children’s birthday parties and weird costumed characters.
I can, however, come up with a couple of somewhat alternatives to Chuck E Cheese in the UK. If you know of any that are more related, let me know!
One of the most popular venues for a kid’s birthday party similar to Chuck E Cheese in the UK is Kidzania. These indoor play areas are perfect for letting kids run around in a simulated city and play dress up and do all kinds of cool experiments within a secure environment.
You can do birthday party packages that include food, party snacks and cake, and, if the name doesn’t given it away, they truly do cater to children – the adults are just a necessity to make the payment! The rest is about the kids.
Other popular kid’s birthday party venues include cinemas and bowling alleys.
I’m just going to tell you upfront, Pizza Express is only like Chuck E Cheese in the sense that it serves pizza. Literally, that is it. But they do serve a lot of different pizza options, and you can combine something like an afternoon at Kidzania with a meal at Pizza Express if your kid is really desparate for a Chuck E Cheese like birthday party.