Chuck E. Cheese’s Retired Animatronics Find New Life at Illinois Museum

downing.amanda, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
downing.amanda, Flickr // CC BY 2.0 / downing.amanda, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The animatronic entertainers you grew up watching at your favorite pizza places are officially historical artifacts. In 2017, Chuck E. Cheese announced it would be removing its iconic robot bands from restaurants, and more than 80 locations will have been remodeled by the end of this year. But fans of the musical critters shouldn't give up hope just yet. A museum in Volo, Illinois, has acquired several old figures from that odd chapter in strip mall history and plans to put them on display.

In addition to its classic cars, the Volo Auto Museum has exhibits dedicated to music machines, antique arcade games, and animatronic entertainment. The museum recently spent $100,000 buying three classic shows that have played at Chuck E. Cheese: The King, King Kat, and The Rock-afire Explosion. The latter originated at ShowBiz Pizza, a pizza place and entertainment center co-founded by Robert Brock in 1980.

Brock had initially agreed to invest in Chuck E. Cheese around the same time but backed out of the deal when he saw ShowBiz Pizza's impressive animatronics. The rivalry ended when the two companies merged and all ShowBiz locations were rebranded under the Chuck E. Cheese banner.

The shows at the Volo Auto Museum feature many of the franchise's classic characters, including Mitzi Mozzarella, Fatz Geronimo, Billy Bob Brockali, Rolfe DeWolfe, Dook LaRue, Looney Bird, Beach Bear, and Moon. They're currently in storage, but the museum plans to have them running again before debuting them to the public. The biggest show, The Rock-afire Explosion, could take months and thousands in additional funds to return it to its original glory.

There's no word on when the new acquisitions will go on display, but Chuck E. Cheese fans who visit the museum now won't be disappointed. There's already a set of robotic Beagles from the restaurant performing in the attraction's animatronic entertainment section, which is conveniently located in a pizza cafeteria.