ORLANDO, Fla. - After 40 years rocking out, Chuck E. Cheese is working to phase out its famous animatronic music shows.
If you've been inside a Chuck E. Cheese, or even a now-defunct Showbiz Pizza Place in the last 40 years, you've no doubt seen the human-sized, plush creatures singing.
“My goal was to build shows as good as Disney had," said Orlando engineer Aaron Fechter, who was the brainchild behind the animatronic technology and how it was used at Showbiz Pizza. “Six weeks after I met Bob Brock, we opened our first restaurant."
"In fact, many of the restaurants have already moved the band out and just have Chuck E. Cheese performing by himself,” said Fechter.
Company leaders seem to think the technology is dated and children want better special effects.
Fechter said despite his role early on, he's not sad to see what has become of it taken away.
Fechter created the famous Rock-afire Explosion, an act he still keeps alive in his Orlando studio.
At one point, he had more than 300 people working inside his creative engineering shop to build characters and create shows. In the early 80s, they were competing with Pizza Time Theater, the Chuck E. Cheese brand, until Chuck E. Cheese went bankrupt in 1984.
Showbiz Pizza bought them out and took over its characters, much to the chagrin of Fechter.
"It was the difference between a Picasso and a drawing by a 10-year-old," he said.
Some of his endoskeletons were covered with Chuck E. Cheese's characters.
"In fact many of them are still out there running today," he said.
After delighting children for decades, Chuck E. Cheese is looking to phase out the animatronic performers.
-- WFTV, Orlando
To follow Creative Engineering and keep the art of Animatronics and the spirit of invention alive, follow along with Creative Engineering online, and on their Premium Video Subscription Service.