For many children, Chuck E. Cheese is the ultimate place to be. But for children with autism, the lights, sounds and crowds can create sensory overload. That's why it matters that Chuck E. Cheese is supporting children with autism and their families with Sensory Sensitive Sundays, a series of events that takes the sensory considerations of visitors with autism into account.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Chuck E. Cheese locations will open their doors two hours early on April 11, during which time guests with autism can enjoy a space curated with their needs in mind. Select locations will continue weekly Sensory Sensitive Sunday events throughout the month of April. And starting in May, participating locations will open two hours early on the first Sunday of each month with sensory-sensitive setups.
Sensory Sensitive Sundays have been around since 2016 when the chain partnered with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders to develop this series. Not only did this partnership inform the transformation of the play space into a sensory-friendly space, but it also provided the Chuck E. Cheese staff with training and resources needed to understand autism and what goes into creating an appropriate environment for guests who are on the spectrum.
During sensory-friendly events, the chain keeps crowding, volume and lighting at lower levels. Chuck E. Cheese does not include its typical shows or music during these events, and the chain's namesake mascot makes limited appearances. Guests are allowed to order off the full restaurant menu, and they have full access to all games and rides. These are all-age events and siblings are welcome to join in the fun. For sensory-sensitive events, there is no fee for admission.
"When designing this event, we took great care to ensure elements of the restaurant were toned down to be more sensory-friendly for children of all ages. The sound effects and volume of arcade games are turned down or off to ensure kids can play all the games they want in a sensory-sensitive manner," the team at Chuck E. Cheese explains on the chain's website. "We also turn down the volume of the in-store entertainment show, and only have Chuck E. come out for the Ticket Splash Show upon request, to be mindful of all children's needs. Additionally, in select locations, birthday parties can be coordinated during Sensory Sensitive Sundays events."
We applaud the brand for creating an experience that children with sensory sensitivities can enjoy as well—especially since they allow birthday parties to be scheduled with sensory-sensitive provisions!