Say Goodbye to Chuck E. Cheese's Animatronic Bands

It's part of the chain's 'most aggressive transformation' yet, per CEO David McKillips
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 7:33 AM CDT

The animatronic band that breaks out in song at Chuck E. Cheese locations around the US has been described as everything from "endearing" and "nostalgia-inducing" to "slightly creepy," but thanks to what CEO David McKillips calls the chain's "most aggressive transformation" yet, the band is now basically "no more." As the New York Times reports, Chuck E. Cheese will phase out performances of its famous rodent and his bandmates—singer Helen Henny, keyboardist Mr. Munch, guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, and drummer Pasqually—by the end of 2024, leaving the band operational in just two locations: Los Angeles and Nanuet, New York.

  • What's new: In place of the animatronics, the chain hopes to swap in additional recreation in the form of digital dance floors, trampolines, and the like. "Kids are consuming entertainment differently than they were 10, 20 years ago," says McKillips. They're "consuming their entertainment on a screen." They don't necessarily want to spend their time watching an "old animatronic band with limited movement and shifty eyes," per the Times.

  • Inspiration: Chuck E. Cheese founder Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded video game giant Atari, said the idea for an animatronic band came to him after a visit to Disneyland's Enchanted Tiki Room, which features similar animated characters.
  • Don't go: Since word started circulating earlier this year about the band's demise, superfans have launched a desperate campaign to save it. "We're trying to bring awareness to the idea that almost all of these stores are going to be different ... and people aren't going to be able to recognize them anymore," one nostalgia-filled fan griped to WSOC in January.
  • Even the kids: "I grew up on tickets and tokens," 12-year-old Kendall Maldonado of Queens tells the Times on why he prefers the old-school Chuck E. Cheese to whatever newfangled plans are in the works.
  • Appeal to parents: That's who the animatronics were really designed for anyway, NPR reported last year. "I felt that the skits had to be somewhat sophisticated—not so that it would leave the kids behind, but so the jokes would amuse parents," Bushnell said at the time.
  • Animatronics retirement home? The company isn't saying what will happen to the oversize puppets after the band is officially retired at locations nationwide. Hopefully it won't be a Five Nights at Freddy's scenario.
  • Meanwhile...: Enjoy these Chuck E. Cheese animatronic malfunctions.
(More Chuck E. Cheese stories.)

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