The popular children’s entertainment and pizza chain Chuck E. Cheese used floppy disks to program and run its animatronic band. A Chuck E. Cheese employee revealed to his TikTok followers how the pizzeria/arcade combo still loads its animatronic shows on floppy disks.
The animatronic band, which featured a cast of robotic animals performing for diners, was a trademark of Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants. The band was programmed to play specific songs, move in time with the music, and even blink and move their mouths to simulate singing.
Those 25-year-old setups are currently being phased out across the country in favor of a remodel that replaces the animatronics character with a dance floor. Cyberamics is no longer in production, but a few stores continue to use them, and the parent company sends out updates on floppy and DVD to match the legacy system.
In the TikTok video, the Chuck E. Cheese employee displayed the winter 2023 floppy disk sent from corporate headquarters. The TikToker shows how he inserts the 3.5-inch disk into a large computer server to relay data for the latest song-and-dance routine for the robotic animals.
The TikTok video includes a tall, black “Cyberstar” rack-mount computer system from around 1998, when Chuck E. Cheese switched the Studio C video showtape from LaserDisc to DVD. Coonrod inserts a 1.44 MB 3.5-inch floppy disk labeled “Chuck E. Cheese Evergreen Show 2023” into the machine. As the computer boots up, a monitor mounted on the rack displays an MS-DOS-style text crawl depicting the computer extracting. CEC files extracted from EGREEN23.EXE, a self-extracting file compressed with PKWARE’s PKSFX v2.50 shareware version, copyright 1999. The . CEC files contain light-timing information as well as instructions that tell animatronics figures how to move.
The video shows a floppy disk labeled “Evergreen Show 2023” being loaded into the dusty computer looming over him. Stewart pans to the monitor attached to the computer tower, which spits out lines of seemingly gibberish code in black-and-white after a few moments of bleeps, bloops, and flashing lights.
The sources for this piece include an article in BuzzFeedNews.