There was nothing like being a kid in the late ’80s and early ’90s — especially if you lived in New Jersey. We had the shore! We had Great Adventure! And perhaps most importantly, we had Razz Ma Tazz. This Perth Amboy/Sayreville border family fun center had it all, and, it was every kid’s dream — especially on birthdays.
Razz Ma Tazz — Noun. A family fun center dedicated to video games and pizza.
Example: “I got pizza on my Hypercolor T-shirt when I went to a birthday party at Razz Ma Tazz, but it was worth it.”
Much like Chuck E. Cheese, the place was full of the good stuff: video games, junk food and almost zero parental supervision. Opened sometime in the mid-80s, Razz Ma Tazz lasted until 1994 and provided a place for area kids to burn off anxious energy and soak up as much video-screen time as humanly possible. In the era of Sega Genesis, this was extremely important.
Just like every good kids’ party place, there has to be a show. At Razz Ma Tazz, the show was put on by giant mechanical puppets that played hits like the Doobie Brothers track “Listen to the Music.” And the music show was an exclusive attraction — saved strictly for birthday party participants. The party room housed a giant stage for the puppets and family-style party tables. Pizza, cake, snacks, and goody bags were doled out to giddy kids, and in between it all was the ‘show.’
Adriana, a Toms River resident who celebrated a couple of birthdays at Razz Ma Tazz, remembers the show well. “When the puppets came on all the kids went into a trance-like state. As soon as it was over, we resumed major yelling and finding a place in line for Pole Position or Trapper games.” Her twin brother, Gian, agrees the show was mesmerizing, but in a different way. “The animatronics were almost devil-like.”
If you were lucky, your parents went for the premium birthday package, which included a character walk-around. With this, you could spend some quality time with one of the oversized critters. While fun, at Razz Ma Tazz, the real star of the show was the pizza.
The crew at Razz knew the way to a kid’s heart when it came to food. Basically there was one thing on offer: Pizza. And it was the most perfect pizza ever. A tasty combo of what you get at Pizza Hut and a local shop, the stuff had a fluffy crust with tons of cheese and a bit of sauce. Because, truth be told, it’s all about the cheese and crust when you’re a kid. Sure, there were other snacks like fries, mozzarella sticks and chicken wings, but if you were a kid at Razz Ma Razz, you wanted their famous pizza.
“I don’t know what they put in the pizza, but it was awesome,” says Gian. And what did kids wash it down with? They didn’t get water or soda at Razz Ma Tazz. Kids opted for clear pitchers of sugary fountain orange drink that kept them running around — that is, when they weren’t playing video games.
Parents would find a table in the center of the space, surrounded by every must-play video game of the day, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pac-Man, Speedway and more. The beauty of the design was that parents could sit there and watch their kids without actually having to physically move. Just hand the kids some money, point them in the direction of the coin machine and BAM! Happiness everywhere.
Mention the video screen lights to a local and they get all glassy-eyed with memories of dizzying fun. “Razz Ma Tazz in Perth Amboy,” sighs Todd from Sayreville. “That used to be part of that cinema-plex on Route 9. I must have dumped tons of quarters in those games! There was nothing like it.”
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