Kids dance on the video floor with Chuck E. Cheese himself during the first-to-play event at Chuck E. Cheese Novi July 28.

Kids dance on the video floor with Chuck E. Cheese himself during the first-to-play event at Chuck E. Cheese Novi July 28.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Children who have autism get first play session at renovated Chuck E. Cheese

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published August 10, 2022

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NOVI — Chuck E. Cheese Novi recognized the variety of challenges that children who have autism encounter, including social interaction, so the newly renovated restaurant known for its Fun Centers gave children with autism and other developmental disabilities the opportunity to be “first to play” ahead of the establishment’s grand reopening celebration July 28.

Ten children from the Blossom Children’s Center in Novi attended the “first to play” event. The kids were able to enjoy free pizza and pop while having two hours of free game time. Each child also was given a prize before the event ended.

“Blossom is very cool and unique for children in the community. They really tap into a sector of families that don’t always know they can experience a place like Chuck E. Cheese,” said Katy Serba, a field marketing specialist for Chuck E. Cheese. “There’s a level of, ‘If my child has a breakdown or a concern, how are they going to adapt to the games and the noise and the kids?’ So, they were one of our ideas to show them they can adapt and they can embrace being a kid, and they can enjoy the experience of a Chuck E. Cheese visit.”

The facility at 44275 12 Mile Road recently completed a 16-week renovation to modernize it. The renovation was done at night so that Chuck E. Cheese could remain open for business. The prize area was redesigned, and the facility now uses play cards for the games instead of tokens. It has a video wall and an interactive dance floor, and the new design allows guests to be naturally spaced out. The robots are now transitioned out of the restaurant, to allow for more personal interaction, and Chuck E. Cheese comes out every hour to interact with the kids.

Parents of the children were all raving about the first-to-play opportunity and how special it was for their children.

“We were just talking about how nice it is not to have to worry, because sometimes with atypical kids, they get upset. Like my son will go to grab something from someone, and I have to tell him, ‘No, he doesn’t understand. I’m so sorry.’ So, it’s nice that they all kind of know each other. Sometimes it’s hard when my son is in an environment with too many people — he won’t play — so this is nice,” said Rita Tomey, of West Bloomfield.

“I wish I could do more stuff like this, but when there are too many kids, he gets a little scared. So, this is really nice. I think this is an awesome, awesome thing that they’re doing, and I’m really proud of Chuck E. Cheese for reaching out to Blossom and having it,” said Natalie Yalldo, of Novi.