Thursday, January 15, 2009
WHERE A KID CAN BE A KID
It was always a treat as a kid when we would get to go to Showbiz Pizza. I know I wasn't the only one confused or disappointed when It just disappeared one day and was replaced by Chuck E. Cheese.
Every once and and while I find an old Showbiz doll or mug at a garage sale and I usually always buy it to display in my studio because it brings back good memories of being a kid.
The best thing about Showbiz in my opinion was the animatronic show with all the characters and music. It seems like eventually over the years there was less of that and more of the arcade games. It want from a three-stage animatronic show to one stage and then disappeared and became Chuck E. Cheese with just the single mouse animatronic.
Now that I'm a big kid I can go back and figure out what the deal was.
THE SHOWBIZ PIZZA STORY
Showbiz was created in 1980 when I was a mere 3 years old by Holiday Inn franchise owner Robert L. Brock. The Brock Hotel Corporation owned 80% of the company and the other 20% was owned by Creative Engineering Inc. who produced the animatronic show. In 1984 they purchased Chuck E. Cheese after that company filed chapter 11 bankruptcy. They operated both restaurants separately until 1993 or 1994 when they changed the majority of the restaurants to Chuck E. Cheese and converted the stores into what they are today. There are now only around 80 locations where the three-stage show is still in use.
The animatronic band was called "The Rockafire Explosion". I actually have one of thier records. Here's a bunch of neat photos that may bring back some memories of some of the character that were included in the show.
ROLFE DEWOLFE and his handpuppet EARLE SCHMEARLE
SPACEDOG DOOK LARUE (sometimes wore spacesuit/helmet)
There were also random characters such as a sun and moon that would sing along, a spider that would drop down, and a bird or bears head that would pop out of a log. During the holidays one of the animatronic characters would be substituted for an animatronic Santa Claus.
Here are some more neat Showbiz related photos:
There is actually a large group of individuals who are obsessed with the Showbiz phenomenon and have bought up entire sets of the animatronic stage show. There's also a group of people who reprogrammed the original characters to sing modern songs. Here's some youtube clips of that.