The Pizza Time Players, the well-recognized animatronics band at Chuck E. Cheese, is retiring 40 years after they first appeared in the restaurant in 1977, NPR reported Wednesday.
“Kids stopped watching the animatronic shows,” Tom Leverton, CEO of Peter Piper Pizza, the company that owns the chain, told Eater Monday. “What we’ve seen over time with improvements in tech, with screens and the expectations of kids today, the animatronics aren’t the main draw.”
“Back then, kids’ expectations of technology were much, much lower,” Leverton said. “A child today has such high expectations for entertainment that the animatronics, even at their absolute best, can’t live up to those expectations.”
The change is not immediate. The Pizza Time Players will be slowly slowly phased out from restaurants over the next few years. In some locations, however, the band is already gone.
“We removed the animatronics in seven locations,” Christelle Dupont, a spokeswoman for the chain, told The Chicago Tribune Wednesday. “We’re testing to see how those remodeled locations do and what parents and kids like and what's resonating with them.”
Singer-songwriter Father John Misty eulogized the band members, jokingly thanking them for inspiring him to pursue a career in music, writing:
Having been a professional musician for a few years now, I can appreciate firsthand not only the strain of trying to sustain a flow of creativity for so long but the rigorous, pretty unexotic feat of physical endurance just getting through a few hundred shows a year, plus all the travel, is. When I consider that this (expletive) was playing up to 5 sets a night all over the country simultaneously i am reminded that, yes, it can be done, and that just by getting on that stage every night and leaving everything up there, I am part of lineage, of a collective imagination that spans the generations.
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