Step inside Chuck E. Cheese’s, the popular chain restaurant and entertainment emporium for kids, and one is immediately confronted with a barrage of bright lights, blaring music, and general pandemonium. A fun time, sure, but for kids with autism and special needs, the chaotic environment can be overwhelming.
Which is why the company, aiming to ensure all children feel comfortable playing Skeeball and eating pizza, announced plans yesterday to launch “Sensory Sensitive Sundays.” According to a company statement, certain Chuck E. Cheese’s will now open two hours early on the first Sunday of every month so that kids with special needs can play and have fun without all the sensory overload.
To help create a more conducive environment for children with autism and other special needs, Sensory Sensitive Sundays will feature dimmed lights, quieter music (including a toned-down version of the popular musical show), and fewer appearances from the titular mouse himself. The hope is that with these adjustments, children who would usually stress through a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s will now feel more relaxed ⏤ and maybe even win a few cool prizes.
“As a mom, I know how fun our restaurants can be for kids: Tons of exciting sounds, bright lights, and lots of action,” Ami Anderson, Chuck E. Cheese’s Director of Marketing, said in a video announcement. “But for children with autism, depending on where they are on the spectrum, a visit to Chuck E. Cheese’s may be too overwhelming. Which is why I am thrilled we are now offering Sensory Sensitive Sundays on the first Sunday of every month.”
For now, Sensory Sensitive Sundays are only available at limited locations (an official list can be found here), but hopefully, they will eventually expand to all nationwide locations.