Chuck E. Cheese announces phase-out of animatronic bands; superfans working to save them

CHARLOTTE — The end of an era is just around the corner: Chuck E. Cheese, Mr. Munch, and Pasqually are preparing for their final performance.

The beloved family pizza joint has announced it will be phasing out all of its animatronic bands. The Pineville-Matthews location in Charlotte is one of the last few in the country where the band is still playing

Kai O’Neill-Maiullari, also known as the YouTuber Beach Kai, is working with a group of other Chuck E. Cheese superfans who are trying to rally support to save the characters

O’Neill-Maiullari says there is a historical aspect to their mission. The characters at the Pineville-Matthews location date back to when Chuck E. Cheese was just beginning and was known as ‘Showbiz Pizza’ in the 80s.

“It comes down to just enjoying the aspect of the characters themselves, the way they move; it was very advanced for the time because the store opened in, I think, October of 1982,” he said. “So considering that period, but the technology that was available at the time, you have characters that can do full movements, like human beings pretty much blinking their eyes and moving their arms.”

Not only is history being taken away, but superfans say that without the animatronics, future generations will not be able to share the same Chuck E. Cheese experience.

“A lot of people are unaware of these changes and want to bring their kids or want to go back to what they remember as a kid,” Yoshi Mei, a fan, said. “So we’re trying to bring awareness to the idea that almost all of these stores are going to be different and changed, and people aren’t going to be able to recognize them anymore.”

Chuck E. Cheese didn’t respond to our request for a comment. An employee of the Pineville-Matthews location told Channel 9 it is unclear when their characters will be removed.

In a November news release, the restaurant said the characters would stay at one California location near Los Angeles, and the other locations would instead focus on dance floors, trampolines, and arcade games.

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