On a recent school-is-closed-omg day, I took three sixth grade girls to Concord, where a shiny new arcade had opened recently in the Sunvalley mall. Arcade? Mall? Not very Berkeley of me.
One of the kiddos in my car had never been inside a place like this, packed with money-eating machines, and it was like I had brought her to another country.
These girls share a musical theater bond, which is why I thought they'd like to experience a private karaoke room. And they loved it.
Because it was not prime time, the room rental was $7 for an hour for the whole group. Lucky for me, the girls didn't want to do anything else at Round1, which offers the slickest, high-tech large-screen arcade games along with a captivating prize redemption storefront. Kids who want to play arcade games and skee-ball for tickets will spend a lot more money.
What to expect when you do karaoke at Round1
My trio was eager to go in the karaoke room and get their singing party started. I paid at the main desk and was given a thick binder of song titles, two microphones, and a fancy remote control for the tv. Furnished like a bare-bones living room with two couches and a coffee table in addition to the television console, the room is one of two available private rooms inside the Round1 entertainment center.
I showed the girls how to look up song titles by artist and enter the corresponding code on the remote to get the music and words to display on the television. My own child hastened me out of the room so that they could freely debate which songs to sing.
My daughter is pop song-savvy and would have had fun singing top 40-style hits as well, but the other two girls were more comfortable with the Broadway genre. They found tracks from Hamilton, Wizard of Oz, Mama Mia, and assorted Disney musicals in the catalog. This experience is probably best for kids who are old enough to read lyrics fast and fluently — and who have a solid depth of current music knowledge.
Planning a trip to Round1 in Concord for kid-friendly karaoke
If possible, get to the arcade when it opens for three reasons: 1) the best rates on the karaoke rooms; 2) so that you don't have to eat lunch there; and 3) because you cannot reserve a room in advance, only on a sign-up sheet onsite. Round1 opens at 10 am daily.
At noon on the weekends, the rates for a small karaoke group (up to 6 people) rise from $9 to $17. On weekdays, the rate change takes place at 4 pm. The jackpot price of $7 per hour is only available on weekdays (holidays excluded) before noon.
The Round1 arcade is on one end of the Sunvalley Mall and parking is abundant. The food both inside the mall and at Round One is standard 90s mall fare, despite the modern finishes. We made do with pizza and salad from the food court, but there is another shopping center with better food choices across the road.
Other activities at Round1 Amusement Center
If your kids are willing, and my own are not, to do karaoke as a multi-age family activity, you might stay busy inside the private karaoke room; however, if you're excluded from the fun as a chaperone, know that there are bowling lanes, billiards, ping pong, and video games, plus a bar and an ice cream counter, so plan accordingly. Like maybe bring another adult to play with. I brought my laptop and found a table right outside the karaoke room.
Round1 Bowling & Amusement is located at 185 Sunvalley Mall, Concord. See current rates for karaoke, bowling, ping pong, and parties here >