How to WIN at Chuck E. Cheese’s

At my age the whole magical magicness of Chuck E. Cheese’s has worn off; there’s not a whole lot of ‘cool’ about a rat that eats pizza nowadays. I really have no use going there anymore unless it’s to supervise kids for some party. I have a lot of knowledge about some of the more common games they have there and how to cheat the system, however. I figured if this information is no good to me anymore then I should pass it down to those who still enjoy playing games there. Even if you don’t need this information, it’s a fun read.



Ski-Ball is a classic. Every arcade in the history of arcades has Ski-Ball. If it doesn’t, then it’s not an arcade. It’s probably a Dillards or Sears you’ve mistakenly walked into. Common mistake I assume. Ski-Ball takes some skill, but you can nail the 900,000 mark and get the current jackpot easily. You’re expecting me to say “walk up the ball ramp” but we all know once more than 20 or so pounds are sensed on the ball ramp the game shuts itself off…

So how do you get all the way up to the top of the game to shove a ball in? Well, the railings of the games (the left side dispenses tickets, the right dispenses balls) don’t have pressure sensors, so if you climb up on that and walk up, placing your feet on the sides, you can get to the very top and shove every ball into the 100,000 hole. Simple as that. Just make sure no one sees you.

Or, if you do not want to risk getting caught since walking up a Ski-Ball game is pretty obvious and loud, see if you can squeeze yourself between the game on the far left or far right and do the same.


Hot Shot Basketball (That Shoe-shaped Basketball Game)

Every location may or may not have this game. It’s a large shoe that’s a basketball game for kids. If there’s not one, see if there is an equivalent, a short basketball game you can easily stand next to. If it’s against the wall and you can’t stand beside it, this will not work. You also must be tall enough to fit your hand into the hoop.

The game doesn’t know the difference between a ball and a slice of pizza. It keeps score when something crosses in front of its light sensor. This should be a basketball, but the game won’t know if oh… your hand was rapidly waving across it. Start the game, and just stand next to it waving your hand across the sensor in the hoop. Every 3 “baskets” = 1 ticket unless they’ve messed with the score or set a maximum number of tickets. If you can wave about six times a second, that’s 2 tickets every second. If the game lasts about 90 seconds… 2 x 90 = 180. If you can wave really fast, you can easily score upwards of 250 per game.



Cyclone is that dorky game where you put the token in and try to hit the buzzer to stop the light on the “Jackpot” space, the one between two neon gates. The light will go around and around the circumference of the table, and you press “HIT” when it lights up the Jackpot spot. The game is damn near impossible, but there is a lock on the game that prevents jackpots from being paid.

By default, this lock is set to unlock when the jackpot is 250 or higher. This may or may not apply to other locations, but most managers will not alter the default settings of the games. Wait until everyone else jacks the total up to 250 or higher, then try to play it. It doesn’t matter how great your timing is, it will not land on jackpot unless the default 250 limit is breached.


Big Wheel (The Token Payoff Machine)

This is the game where you shoot tokens onto a moving ferris wheel or onto the metal in front of it so the pushing arm might knock some tokens into the hopper for you to take and use elsewhere. Some versions of this game do not pay off in tokens and instead tickets, but either way this tip will still help.

It may seem obvious that there’s a tilt sensor in the game, but that only works if the game is plugged in. Kick the cord out of the wall and carefully tilt the machine forward so the tokens carelessly slide forward and into the hopper. Plug the machine back in, act like nothing at all happened, and take your bounty.

There are a few other games I know of but if I recall correctly most of them are not in service anymore. If I happen to see some of these still around I’ll post a sequel to this.

– Dracophile