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Chuck E. Cheese's beginning to retire animatronic bands

Chuck E. Cheese's is breaking up the band. You know, the animatronic one.

The national pizza restaurant and arcade chain known for hosting kids' birthday parties has announced it is redesigning several of its locations across the country.

In those plans, the robot animal musicians — including Jasper T. Jowls, Mr. Munch and Helen Henny — are being scrapped in favor of live entertainment. It's a model the company is considering for its restaurants nationwide, according to CBS News.

The changes, which the company that owns the Chuck E. Cheese chain said are meant to provide families a "modern experience," are starting at seven locations around San Antonio and Kansas City, the network reported.

The two Western New York locations of Chuck E. Cheese's — which are on Harlem Road in Amherst and Milestrip Road in Blasdell — will hang on to their animatronic performers, at least for the time being.

The company has "no immediate plans" for the Buffalo-area locations, spokeswoman Christelle Dupont said in an email.

In an interview with CBS News, CEC Entertainment CEO Tom Leverton said the future of Chuck E. Cheese animatronics in other locations depends on what happens with the first locations experiencing the change.

"Leverton noted that the company has a 'strong hypothesis' that it will eventually shift its focus to the live Chuck E. performers instead of animatronics," the network reported.

There were 610 Chuck E. Cheese's locations in the United States and around the world as of July 2, according to a news release from the company. CEC Entertainment also owns the Peter Piper Pizza chain, which has 147 locations in the central and western United States.

Helen Henny, center, and Chuck E. Cheese make up part of the animatronic band. (Photo courtesy CEC Entertainment)

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