Chuck E. Cheese is making a major change to their game plan.
Animatronics are on their way out. Giant video screens, interactive dance floors and trampolines are on their way in.
But, they are keeping one location where you can still catch the original show.
I was at the Northridge, California location for the celebration and announcement.
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“More than a billion people have come through the doors of Chuck E Cheese,” CEO David McKillips told me. “We’ve been phasing out the animatronics over the last couple of years, because every generation has had their own Chuck E. Cheese.”
Some remember the ball pits, others the crawl through tubes. But the band has remained a constant. Until now.
There are more than 400 U.S. locations and 75 percent have been remodeled with new games, new pizza and cake and new entertainment.
“We took a pause here,” said McKillips to a crowd of Chuck E. Cheese superfans.
Thanks to a petition started by teen fan Logan Carreiro, the company selected the Northridge location as the only place in the U.S. where Munch’s Make Believe Band will keep playing.
“They’re just so fascinating the way they move around and talk to each other and dance, it’s crazy,” said Carreiro, who flew out from Boston to attend the event. He started the petition to save the show when he was 12. Now, he’s 14.
“We wanted to keep one legacy location open and have our band have a residence where you can come anytime you want, every day, the band will be playing,” said McKillips.
The band at the Northridge location looks as good as ever. It’s been spruced up and the entire show area is brighter and doesn’t feel like a relic from the past.
Chuck E. Cheese (and Atari!) founder Nolan Bushnell was on hand for the announcement.
“I actually am glad that it’s going to be in a restaurant and not some museum. I think it’s good to be able to come here and experience what we started in 1976, having it in a restaurant is an appropriate way to give homage to our legacy,” said Bushnell, who seems to understand that the chain needs to adapt to today’s kids who are raised on iPads.
“This is going to become a destination for all of our superfans and those that just want to reach back to the legacy of Chuck E. Cheese,” concluded McKillips.