BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you grew up going to Chuck E. Cheese’s, the pizza restaurant and arcade chain popular for children’s birthday parties, you know the Pizza Time Players.
It’s the animatronic band headed up by the rodent himself, Chuck. He and the other larger-than-life robotic characters sing cover songs while families gorge on pizza, bread sticks, wings and similarly starchy foods.
Afterwards, the kids typically burn off that carbo-load by crawling through plastic tubes, sliding into ball pits and playing games.
But now, the chain may be saying goodbye to the Pizza Time Players, which have graced Chuck E. Cheese’s stages since 1977.
The restaurant chain is looking to reengage families and kids with a “modern experience,” CEC Entertainment Chief Executive Tom Leverton told CBS.
“It’s the biggest thing we’ve done for the look and feel of Chuck E. Cheese for two decades,” Leverton said. “The kids stopped looking at the animatronics years and years ago, and they would wait for the live Chuck E. to come out.”
Leverton says kids today have much higher expectations when it comes to electronic entertainment, so the animatronic characters don’t interest them as much.
Only a handful of restaurants have booted the animatronic band so far. Those locations now include open kitchens and toned-down color palates, as well.
Leverton says the company has a “strong hypothesis” that it will eventually shift its focus to the live Chuck E. performers instead of animatronics.