Concept Unification Complete
July 26, 2010 5:12 AM   Subscribe

PizzaCam is a youtube channel of Chuck E. Cheese promotional videos, training tapes and ephemera from 1988-1999. From the official video archives of a fan site devoted to the history and legacy of the (penultimate) amusement park restaurant.

More videos:
From live shows to CEC University training (on such diverse subject as new security measures, robot diagnostic checks and how to make the proper pizza) to specially made music videos from jeff lynne, howard jones, rod stewart and dire straights.

And of course endless in-store musical productions: 1998 (Austin Powers "Parody"), 1993 (Spring Training), 1991 (Games) (American Pride), 1995 (Adventures in my own body), and 1994 (Fight Song), (Patriotic Bandstand).

The Future looks Fun to Me!
posted by Potomac Avenue (26 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:19 AM on July 26, 2010

argh, yeah I was trying to be cute because that site was claiming that 'Rock-afire Explosion' was a superior animatronic band to the later Chuck E Cheese characters. I guess penultimate wasn't really what I meant. Mea Culpability.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:25 AM on July 26, 2010

Those robots were putting on some kind of a show? I was never in that room long enough to notice. I just remembered my brother and I taking my mom there for her birthday circa 1982, mom was awesome.
posted by cgk at 5:55 AM on July 26, 2010

posted by schmod at 5:57 AM on July 26, 2010

Security measures? What about fights and violence at Chuck E. Cheese?

"In Brookfield, Wis., no restaurant has triggered more calls to the police department since last year than Chuck E. Cheese's."

"In 2007, police responded to the restaurant 18 times for similar offenses."

"But, according to the Wall Street Journal, I should count my blessings that my visits to the place have never been marred by an 85-person melee involving pepper spray. The WSJ piece pulls together a number of anecdotes from across the country in which parents – usually enraged over something kid-related, like the hogging of a game machine – come to blows. Every once in a while, we get a news story about an out-of-control hockey mom or soccer dad, but apparently, nothing touches Chuck E. when it comes to Parents Gone Wild."

"What's to blame for the outbreak in "Cool Chuck" related violence? Security experts point to the "mama-bear instinct," as the loud noises, thick crowds and emotions of children's birthday parties (hosted by the establishments) heighten parents reactions to what they see as threats to their children. Alcohol may also be to blame as 70% of Chuck E. Cheese's serve wine and beer in order to give parents more of a reason to bring their kids for a good time."

(Btw, the linked Dire Straits video was blocked here, because of content from UMG.)
posted by iviken at 6:15 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:29 AM on July 26, 2010

Wall E. Weasel Animatron: Hey there, I hear it's your birthday, how old are you?
Bart Simpson: Well, I'm...
Wall E. Weasel Animatron: Thats great! Would you like us to sing you a special song?
Bart Simpson: Hell no!
Wall E. Weasel Animatron: You got it! Ready, Senor P. Varotti?
P. Varotti Animatron: I'm a-ready! And a one, and a two - You're the birthday, you're the birthday, you're the birthday boy or girl!
posted by mreleganza at 6:29 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chuck E. Cheese's is Vegas for kids.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:34 AM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I thought Fight Song was going to be this. I am completely bummed.
posted by SPUTNIK at 6:51 AM on July 26, 2010

I could swear when I was a kid in Austin (late 80s, early 90s), the main kid's pizza place was Showbiz Pizza, but they had Chuck E Cheese as a mascot. I remember thinking later when all of them changed to Chuck E Cheeses that it was a bit weird they changed their name to their mascot's name. But I guess that was the "Concept Unification" era according to that history/timeline. Huh.
posted by kmz at 7:15 AM on July 26, 2010

"Why were you late this morning?"
"I .. um... I was watching old Chuck E. Cheese training videos on youtube.." *shame-faced*
posted by amethysts at 7:28 AM on July 26, 2010

I always thought the Chuck-E-Cheese-related fight stories were hilarious.

Then I actually went to one. And frankly, I'm surprised fistfights don't break out at every one of those places, every hour of every day.

It's an endless, brain-pounding, nerve-jangling assault of amplified noise, lights and general overstimulation. The Dalai Lama couldn't stay calm in the middle of it. Then throw in the kids, amped up on carbs and sugar, pushing, shoving, cutting in on lines, scrambling and begging for every toy/game/candy they can see...

Plus, those things are small. It's one thing to have all that chaos in a Vegas casino or an amusement park. It's another to be trapped in a building the size of a McDonalds with all that coming at you.

Never mind the "Mamma Bear" instinct. I wanted to punch someone just on general principle.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

Oh my gosh. I worked at a Chuck E. Cheese for three years, and then for two summers after that. Wow, what a repository. Fortunately I worked in the kitchen so I usually had a wall separating me from the chaos (we had our own different kind of chaos on busy nights). Favoriting this and passing it onto my siblings (all of whom worked there) and my friends.


also: I was voted best Chuck E. of the year two years in a row at my store because I could get down the best in the suit.
posted by Phantomx at 9:12 AM on July 26, 2010

Anecdata from my friends and acquaintances suggests that increased violence at Chuck E. Cheese's is probably due to a shift in patronage. I will be called "classist" should I elaborate further, so I will leave it at that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:20 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have no idea what could possibly come out of a Chuck E. Cheese vs. Dire Straits video and I'll never know. This is going to bug me forever.
posted by avocet at 9:27 AM on July 26, 2010

avocet: it's mostly a bunch of wacky sports bloopers. I wish I was joking.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2010

When I was learning to program computers, my parents started taking us to Showbiz in Illinois, and I remember being gobsmacked at the television monitors showing numbers of ready-for-pickup orders, because the displays were obviously generated by Atari computers (just like mine at home!) I also remember playing a lot of the Popeye video game at that place.

Now my kids are four, and we've taken them to Chuck E Cheese a few times, but it's kind of depressing. Luckily, in Burbank (near the airport) another place has opened up that has valet parking, decent meals, and a big play area that doesn't cost money -- it's more expensive, but it's worth it to have a little peace and dignity while my kids play. Plus, there's a big dragon on it.

But yeah, it's all kind of crack for kids, really, so even the good place doesn't get a visit from our family that often.
posted by davejay at 9:48 AM on July 26, 2010

Anecdata from my friends and acquaintances suggests that increased violence at Chuck E. Cheese's is probably due to a shift in patronage.

This is true in my experience as well. I attended a birthday party at a Chuck E. Cheese's with my daughter this year, and it was pretty different in terms of patrons from what I remember as a child. There was also no alcohol available, and it was quite bright and small. I remember the Chuck E. Cheese's and Showbiz Pizzas of my youth being large and dark.
posted by jeoc at 10:08 AM on July 26, 2010

I liked the original Chuck E. Cheese - the early 1980s version. Even the pizza was pretty good (different recipe than is used now). In 1983 Chuck E. Cheese had more (and often newer) video games than the average arcade, and if you got there at the right time you could pretty much have the whole place to yourself. Also, the only amusements CEC had at the time were arcade games; there were no ball pits or Skee-Ball or other toddler-friendly activities.

I was newly laid off from my job of six years, and in those days you had to physically stand in line (usually for an hour or two) at the unemployment office to pick up your check. Every once in a while after collecting my check I'd take my younger brother to one of the CECs in the area for lunch and gaming. We'd get there right after they opened at 11:30AM and there'd be no one there but us and the employees. Five dollars and a coupon got us 30-some game tokens, so it was cheap entertainment. But sitting in that cavernous dining room eating pizza was spooky. The lights were always dim (for atmospheric purposes) and when the Beagles stopped singing in our room, we could hear the echo-y sounds of Pizza Time Players in the adjoining room. With no crowd noise, every squeak and thump made by the movement of mechanical characters was clearly audible. And, similar to that Simpson's bit, the PT Players often sang a birthday song to an empty room. The rare few minutes of silence between "performances" were interrupted by the voice of Space Fury (two rooms away, but still loud and clear): "So....a creature for my amusement. Prepare for battle!" I'm guessing that CEC employees learned to tune out the background noise, because it was never quiet in that place.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:19 AM on July 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

My girlfriend was thrown out of a CEC. Apparently there is some rule that you have to have a kid with you, and you can't just go there and drink beer and play video games.
posted by Snyder at 10:29 AM on July 26, 2010

I grew up in Dallas, Texas; does anyone remember Pistol Petes Pizza? It was a more Texan themed/gun-slinger style version of Chuck E. Cheese.
posted by Fizz at 10:47 AM on July 26, 2010

Oh man, this brings back memories. Not just of Chuck E. Cheese, but the whole ecosystem of playspaces that was around in Florida when I was a kid.

Chuck E. Cheese was nice, and had the added bonus of being next door to an educational shop full of wooden model train sets. It was fun visiting there after an afternoon in those plastic tunnels, trying not to get pizza grease on the wooden bridge pieces as I built a track across a tabletop landscape.

But this paled in comparison to DISCOVERY ZONE OMG. That place was just fucking awesome. It had ziplines and gargantuan ballpits full of climbable astro-crags and those long rolling-pin slides that made you jitter all the way down. They went bankrupt in the late 90s after overextending themselves, IIRC.

There were other cool places around the area, especially closer to Tampa. Near downtown there was this fantastic wooden playground in the "castle" style you see all over the place nowadays, with towers and dark crypt spaces underneath and a painted dinosaur maze. And the courtyard was full of balance beams and shakey bridges and tire swings and monkeybars.

Close to that was the strange wonder of Safety Village. The entrance was a daycare-esque space with cubbyholes and building blocks and small desks for coloring. But out back was an entire city in miniature. A supermarket, a football field, a soda bottling factory, a fire station, a library, and more, all built to a child's scale. I'd take my bike and ride up and down the tiny streets, learning the rules of the road from little posted signs. It was fantastic. And it's still there, too.

Of course, all of these couldn't hold a candle to the ultimate destination: KidsFun. At least I think that's what it was called. I only remember it hazily, but I do remember that it was epic. A massive, warehouse-sized space, filled from floor to ceiling with a giant multi-story jungle gym. It was so vast and labyrinthine that you could literally get lost in it. And thanks to the soundproof "parents' oasis" in the center (liberally stocked with magazines and TV), there was always plenty of time to worm your way into its darker corners. I remember one time where I could hear a small girl crying somewhere deep inside, and I simply couldn't find her. So creepy.

In the years since, I've been unable to find any reference to it online. It's possible that I just imagined the whole place.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:59 PM on July 26, 2010

I'm guessing that CEC employees learned to tune out the background noise, because it was never quiet in that place.

I once worked (poorly) at a place in Austin called "Celebration Station". It was one of those kinds of places, kind of like this, but with two stories, lots more games, go-carts, mini-golf, etc. Most of the sounds just sort of blended together into white noise, but the theme song of one of the racing games was loud enough to stick out just slightly over the others. It haunted my dreams for years. DAYYYY-TOOOO-NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...[incomprehensible garbled words]
posted by Xezlec at 8:21 PM on July 26, 2010

As the last days of my passing youth faded, so also faded any interest I had in gaming arcades. Chuck-E-Cheese was the only place around I knew that had a nice assortment. But damn, that place creeped me out. I didn't like the pretend stardom of some stupid cartoon character I'd never heard of. But that wasn't what creeped me out, I suppose. Had I been a parent, I wouldn't have been comfortable with my child going to that place. And that was in Commack, Long Island.
posted by Goofyy at 7:19 AM on July 27, 2010

that's beautiful but i was really hoping for a bunch of hq videos of various pizzas..

at least i still have toiletdude
posted by ifeelweird at 1:23 PM on July 27, 2010

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