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Chuck E. Cheese Pulling Plug on Animatronic Robot Band For Good

To the likely delight of parents everywhere — as well as some seriously freaked-out kids — the Munch’s Make Believe Band is headed to the scrap heap. The animatronic group that has been a staple at the Chuck E. Cheese pizza and arcade chain for four decades is going into a permanent deep freeze by the end of this year due to changing tastes among the ball pit set.

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According to The New York Times, the mechanical animal band fronted by singers Chuck E. Cheese and Helen Henny, with Jasper T. Jowls on guitar, Mr. Munch on keyboards and Pasqually on drums, will be removed from all but two locations (Los Angeles and Nanuet, N.Y.) of the chain’s more than 400 U.S. locations amidst what CEO David McKillips described as its “most aggressive transformation” to date.

The band known for its stilted movements and blinking, shifty eyes, will be replaced by giant TV screens, digital dance floors and trampoline gyms just a few years after the chain temporarily closed a number of locations during the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the summer of 2020. “Kids are consuming entertainment differently than they were 10, 20 years ago,” McKillips told the paper. “Kids, really of all ages, are consuming their entertainment on a screen.”

For now, the company is not saying what will happen to the hundreds of animatronic figures once they exit the stage more than four decades after Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell had the brainstorm to match a pizza restaurant with then-novel video games. In a 2017 interview, Bushnell said he was originally inspired by watching the animatronic animal show in the Tiki Room at Disneyland, tasking his engineers with coming up with a mascot for what was then called Coyote Pizza.

After mistakenly buying a rat costume — and briefly considering the name Rick’s Rat Pizza — Bushnell went with the friendlier name Chuck E. Cheese (Charles Entertainment Cheese) for the chain that opened its first outlet in May 1977 in San Jose, California. In the decades since, the restaurant became a staple of affordable children’s birthday parties, even as the band has spawned dozens of memes as well as inspiring the 2023 horror flick Five Nights at Freddy’s, in which a security guard at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza battled murderous animatronic characters.

Check out a message from the chain and some fond memories below.

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