top of page

It was 1986, and I was at ShowBiz Pizza Place.

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

I was rummaging through some albums the other day, specifically to find great blog content. They did not disappoint. Enjoy these never-before seen vintage snapshots of ShowBiz Pizza Place.

Let's start this outing with a trip to the ball pit, my first stop on every visit. What a rush it was, plunging into a vat of bacteria-laden plastic! These days, I don't even want to touch the cart handle at Wal-Mart without a sanitizing wipe. UPDATE: I'm totally over being a germaphobe.

'80s Chuck E. Cheese ballpit ball pit.

All that floundering worked up an appetite, and it looks like my friends and I made short work of that pizza. Looking at these photos is making me hungry.

Vintage '80s Chuck E. Cheese photo.

The animatronic band that all '80s kids remember, The Rock-afire Explosion has a dedicated preservation effort. The robots were retired in 1992, and private collectors work hard to obtain and repair them. Check out the 2008 documentary of the same name for an idea of how far people will go to keep their childhoods alive. I could have sworn this room was a lot bigger.

Rock-a-Fire Explosion '80s Chuck E. Cheese arcade photo.
I have a figure of the drummer in storage, nine states away. Maybe one day, I'll get a photo and add it here.

There was a snaking, yellow-padded tunnel going under the band's stage. Inside was an incredible place, where adults couldn't fit. What awaited us was not just the aforementioned tube, but a small room lit with a strobe. It was something we could only try to describe to our parents. The passageway was eventually boarded up, as kids understandably refused to come out. I would have loved to have seen some of those dramas unfold.

Here, we catch some fleeting glimpses of the restaurant's real draw: the arcade! Some of my earliest memories are of watching my dad play Tron and Donkey Kong. My love for coin-op gaming has never waned: While you're on Retro Injection, check out my arcade cabinets, visit New York State's largest game room and be blown away by this incredible home arcade.

Vintage '80s Chuck E. Cheese arcade photo skee-ball Whac-a-Demon.

That rocket reminds me of Danny Torrance's sweater in The Shining:

Character Danny Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
Courtesy: Warner Bros.

This is the same ShowBiz Pizza Place where, before 1986's end, I would be introduced to a very special monster.

And finally, what trip to ShowBiz Pizza would be complete without a visit from Chuck E. Cheese himself? (The answer: No trip. It was a rhetorical question.)

Vintage '80s Chuck E. Cheese photo.
Don't I look thrilled?

ShowBiz Pizza Place was rebranded as Chuck E. Cheese's in 1994. I've always made a point to go there throughout the years, and it's a lot less creepy now that I'm married. To close out this article, here's my wife and I visiting one in 2016. Even she, a chef by trade, loves the pizza!

Are you a fan of the '80s and junk food? You'll want to check out our unbelievable vintage McDonald's photos, a retrospective on one of the greatest Happy Meals ever and a tribute to the McDLT. This place is a coronary bypass of fun!

If you have arcade memories you'd like to share, feel free to use the comment box below. Or just keep them to yourself.

Chuck E. Cheese black and white photobooth printout.


bottom of page