If you’re of a certain age, you’re likely to have fond-slash-permanently-scarring memories of birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese, where the pizza is mediocre and the anthropomorphic rodents are the size of your dad. A key portion of the Chuck E. Cheese experience was the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic band, which wiggled around on a small stage in light that was either dim and ominous or florescent and searing as you nibbled at your crust and greasy pepperoni. It was… fun? Well, not anymore: Chuck E. Cheese is beginning to phase out the singing robots. Will the mascot soon appear in an elevated DJ booth, making dopey hand gestures and triggering massive dubstep drops? Time will tell. From CBS News:
The kid-focused pizza chain is updating a handful of restaurants with open kitchens and toned-down colors, as well as one striking omission: the animatronic animals who play music and entertain families.
Children’s taste in entertainment is much more sophisticated now than when the chain started in 1977 because kids today are used to slick animations and special effects, he added. The animatronics bands may be an icon for parents and grandparents, but children today prefer dancing with Chuck E. — a worker dressed up as the chain’s icon — or big-form video games, [chief executive Tom Leverton] added. “The animatronics became a side show,” he said.
In addition to breaking up the bands, the new Chuck E. Cheese will also feature an interior redesign and a menu including gluten-free pizza and wraps. To be fair, the update is only coming to seven Chuck E. Cheese locations in the San Antonio and Kansas City areas at first, but Leverton told CBS he has a “strong hypothesis” that it will extend to the rest of the franchise eventually. Fortunately, there’s a shocking quantity of Chuck E. Cheese animatronic band content available on YouTube, including this truly chilling performance of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”
Gizmodo ran an impressively lengthy story about the ouster of the animatronics, including a few moving quotes from devastated (adult?) Chuck E. Cheese fans. “Back when they had shows, the place meant something. It was a place where magic comes alive… The theme of the show reminded you that you where lucky to be born in the age, and that a good future was ahead.” We couldn’t have said it better.