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Catch the farewell tour while you can, because the end of a mozzarella-topped era is upon us. Perennial kid-centric pizza palace Chuck E. Cheese is scuttling its infamously famous animatronic animal band in favor of a complete brand overhaul and new look, which means you’ll soon have to leave some of your childhood’s uncanniest (yet awesomest) memories forever in the past.
Yes, Munch’s Make Believe Band is disbanding for good, according to Today. After revealing back in 2017 that it would slowly begin phasing out its robotic rockers, Chuck E. Cheese this week revealed its rebranding strategy to the public — and furry stars like Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, and Chuck E. himself won’t be coming back for an animatronic encore.
Instead, the report states, Chuck E. Cheese will take his act solo, suiting up as a (human-inhabited) mascot who roams a new interactive dance floor, where he’ll “mingle with kids, dance, and pose for photos with partiers.” The change will become a permanent part of the family-friendly pizza chain’s brand across its 600-plus locations.
While we still can, let’s take a misty-eyed look back at what we’re leaving behind:
In a nod to more modern concepts of parental time management, Chuck E. Cheese’s is reportedly also doing away with game tokens in favor of a play pass system that charges for the time you spend, rather than the number of activities you do. It’s part of a company-wide makeover that also includes a new logo, updated furniture, and brighter lighting.
For more than a generation, Chuck E. Cheese’s intoxicating mix of cafeteria-style pizza plundering and “live” music, delivered by stiff-limbed, googly-eyed animatronic animals, gave kids everywhere something to bond over. Almost as much as the latest Spielberg movie or Madonna video, the Chuck E. Cheese experience was a pop culture touchstone and rite of passage that seemed to strike the same nerve universally in everyone.
Sure, those singing, drum-banging, guitar-strumming animals were strange, goofy, and sometimes more than a little scary — but at the end of the day, nothing got our adrenaline pumping like the chance to scarf down pizza and play video games while Chuck E.’s gang of fuzzy robots laid down a sweet musical mood in the background. Times do change, but kids of the future will never know what they’ve missed as Mr. Munch and his bandmates lapse forever into the nostalgia-only zone.