There was a time, eons ago in the ’90s, when Chuck E Cheese’s was the epicenter of kid’s entertainment, proudly hosting kid’s birthdays and family fun nights full of ski ball, slices of oily pizza, and a swingin’ animatronic band that annoyed parents but was beloved by kids. But those days are long gone and now Chuck E Cheese’s has become a shell of its former self, struggling to figure out how to keep their customers satisfied. The company tried to appeal to adults by adding beer to the menu but probably realized that mid-priced long necks couldn’t wash down the stale feeling. How are they planning to do that? By breaking up the band.
Chief Executive Tom Leverton announced that Chuck E Cheese’s would be undergoing a complete revamp of the brand that will feature open kitchens, toned down colors, and no more robotic animals. These changes will start in a few locations, with a potential expansion happening if customers respond positively.
The animatronic band had been a staple at Chuck E Cheese’s for years, but Leverton explained that kids are no longer interested in that kind of entertainment. “The kids stopped looking at the animatronics years and years ago, and they would wait for the live Chuck E. to come out,” he said.
Leverton is right that kids stopped paying attention to Chuck E Cheese’s band a couple decades ago, but is he right to consider it an outright dismissal of animatronics? There’s another mouse-eared mega franchise that would likely disagree. Disney has invested tons of money into animatronic technology at their theme parks, including their most recent Avatar park and their upcoming Star Wars theme parks. Disney obviously doesn’t believe kids dislike animatronics; they’re just aware that said animatronics need to improve with the times. At a time when toys are so intelligent they’re capable of learning along with their user, a singing mouse just doesn’t have staying power.
If this is truly the end of Chuck E Cheese and his pizza-loving pals serenading customers, you should make sure to take their kids to see them one last time before they retire Of course, if they’re like other past their prime rock bands, they’re sure to reunite for an underwhelming concert in about 15 years.