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Studio C Alpha (or formally known as just "Studio C" by corporate) is an animatronic stage found at Chuck E. Cheese's. It was installed in restaurants from 1997 to 2001, and was the first stage widely produced to feature a single Chuck E. animatronic, as opposed to the five-character setup of past stages. Studio C Alpha was themed around a late-night TV studio, and featured a news desk-inspired stage for Chuck E. as well as a blue screen stage that kids could use to appear on the many video monitors in the showroom.
After the Awesome Adventure Machine was deemed too delicate and expensive to mass produce, CEC Entertainment came up with the much cheaper "Studio C" concept. It is a one character, one stage animatronic show. At this time in Chuck E. Cheese history, they wanted to phase out the rest of the characters, so the stage featured a Chuck E. animatronic, along with a parrot character simply known as "Bird", for Chuck E. to interact with during shows.
This stage was built by Garner-Holt Productions, an animatronics company that builds figures for many major theme parks, such as Disney and Universal. They were contracted for the project after Creative Presentations, who worked on Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz animatronics in the late 80s-90s, was struggling financially and not able to work on the new show. Chuck E. Cheese Entertainment wanted this new figure to be friendlier looking than previous Chuck bots, to reflect his redesign from a rat to a younger, hipper mouse that occurred in the mid-1990s. To compensate for the loss of the other four animatronics, the new Chuck E. bot was also much more advanced than previous characters, being capable of 32 different movements.
The Studio C showtapes in 1998 were a huge departure from earlier and later shows. As opposed to the characters singing the songs, various music videos of oldies and pop hits would play on the monitors, and the characters would comment during the videos. These shows were very negatively received.
When Jeremy Blaido took over Department 18 as Director of Entertainment in August 1998, he started making shows with bigger roles for the other characters, so Bird and the late-night studio theme were quickly dropped. The other members of Munch's Make Believe Band would be portrayed as puppets appearing onscreen, whom the robotic Chuck E. would interact with. Additionally, the shows returned to their pre-1998 format of the characters singing songs, with dialogue and skits in between.
Over the years, Studio C Alpha has seen some downgrades from its original concept. Due to the late-night theme being dropped due to the change in show format, Chuck E.'s red and black tux (the late night outfit) was eventually replaced by either his blue "Cool Chuck" look, or his purple "Avenger" outfit during the mid-2000s. The blue screen cameras were gradually removed starting in the early 2010s with the Ticket Blaster's debut. The Ticket Blaster's placement in front of the blue screen made it unusable. Around the same time, the interactive console between Chuck E.'s stage and the blue screen was removed and replaced with bright red letters spelling "C.E.C". The reason for the console's removal was due to its difficulty to repair, as well as it providing a hinderance during Live shows. During the phase-out of CRTs at locations (around 2011), they would end up removing the small CRTs mounted near the ceiling, and replace the larger ones that were installed either inside the wall, or in midair (like at Edina, Minnesota) with flat screens mounted on the wall, and Another thing that was removed over the years was the projector, when the Studio C Alpha stages were first installed, they had a projector aimed at the wall with a wood border on the outside, along with some multicolored fiber-optic lighting. Starting in 2013, all stages eventually ditched the projector for a flat screen TV.
Studio C Alpha was discontinued in 2001 when it was replaced with the cheaper Studio C Beta. However, as of September 2021, 62 Studio C Alphas still exist today, making it one of the most common stages at Chuck E. Cheese.
Studio C Alpha gave the showroom a movie-studio style look with TVs, cameras, and lights. The stage itself had a "late night show" look, with a cityscape background behind the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic. There were colored lights scattered about the ceiling in the showroom. There is a big "Applause" sign and a big "On The Air" sign. The "live" video camera shoots people standing in front of the blue screen, and displays them on the overhead TVs. In a few locations, a karaoke option was tested to go along with the blue screen area called Chuck E.'s Star Search, but the concept failed in 2001.
The showtapes for Studio C originally ran with laserdiscs. In 1999, these were upgraded to a DVD system. Each DVD contains the main show footage, puppets, live and birthday shows, diagnostics, blue screen interactive intermissions (2000-2002), karaoke (1999-2001), and on hold music (usually songs from different showtapes, such as Variety Show). To run a new show, the location is sent a software upgrade floppy disk along with the DVD, which includes the programming.
There is a touch screen panel where live shows, diagnostics, birthday shows, etc. can be programmed. When starting up Studio C in the morning, it asks the employee to type in birthday kids' names so during the birthday shows, the kids' names will flash on the screen. Diagnostics can be selected from the panel, and there is also a password feature. The cast member password allows programming of live shows, birthday breaks, and birthday shows.
In the early 2010s, various upgrades have been made to Studio C Alpha such as replacing the interactive console with a CEC panel and flashing lights, as well as upgrading showtapes from DVD and floppy disks to a single flash drive containing all show elements. In mid-2013, many Chuck E. Cheese locations removed the cameras from the blue screen for all types of Studio C setups. Many Studio C locations now have the Ticket Blaster standing in front of the blue screen.
- Studio C Beta replaced Alpha in 2000, which caused the Alpha to be discontinued a year later.
- There are four ways to test the character movements and lights: The Tech Term, the panel underneath Chuck E., the show diagnostics, and the touch screen panel.
- The Studio C character and elements were created by Garner-Holt.
Special Studio C Alphas
Due to the high number of Studio C Alphas, there were bound to be variations on the stage.
- Before its closure in 2019, the Studio C Alpha in West St Paul, Minnesota, was a former 3-Stage Circus Pizza with The Rock-Afire Explosion. They installed the Alpha on Stage Left, and the blue screen on Stage Right, with Center Stage being gutted for the TVs.
- Before its closure in 2020, the Studio C Alpha in Edina, Minnesota, was also a former Circus Pizza that housed The New Rock-afire Explosion.
- The Studio C Alpha in Bridgewater, New Jersey is the last Alpha to have an interactive console, and they have the last update given to the interactive console. They had working curtains which were removed in 2021.
- The Studio C Alpha in Manassas, Virginia was the second to last Alpha to still feature an interactive console, and they had the earliest version of the interactive console software. They removed the console in 2020 and this location remodeled to 2.0 in 2021.
- The Studio C Alpha in Berwyn, Pennsylvania had LED strips behind the buildings in the background of the stage. They also had a unique LED strip around the ticket blaster. This location closed in 2020.
- The Studio C Alpha in Parma, Ohio is one of the last remaining Alpha stages to have the Cool Chuck Attire despite being Phase 5.
- For a brief period of time in 2020, they had the full Cool Chuck outfit (hat, shirt, and pants). However, the hat has since been removed.
- The Studio C Alpha in Salem, Oregon had a Rockstar shirt, no pants, and Chuck E.’s Avenger cap. This Alpha replaced a Rocker Stage. As of April 2021 The stage was sent to the dump and destroyed for 2.0.
- The Studio C Alpha in Manassas, Virginia had Chuck E. wearing his Cool Chuck outfit and the second to last interactive console. The console was removed in 2020 and the location received 2.0 in March 2021.
- The Studio C Alpha in East Orlando, FL had the full Avenger outfit, but the hat was removed and the green apple TV was replaced with the red one. This location has working curtains. The location also had its animatronic in a custom Tuxedo outfit to celebrate Chuck E. Cheese's 40th anniversary in 2017 and a Pizza Time Theater outfit during Chucktober in 2015.
- The Studio C Alpha in West Orlando, FL has the full Avenger outfit (hat, shirt, and pants),
- The Studio C Alpha in Las Vegas, Nevada has plastic eyebrows on Chuck E.
- Before its closure in December 2020, the Studio C Alpha in Ann Arbor, Michigan replaced their 32 movement animatronic with a 16 movement.
- The Studio C Alpha in Vestal New York had the late night outfit to celebrate Chuck E. Cheese's 40th anniversary in 2017. In 2018, they got the bot from Syracuse, New York, which got 2.0 the same year but with the Cool Chuck shirt. In 2021 they got the rockstar shirt from New Hartford New York which closed in 2020.
- The Studio C Alpha in Brookfield, Wisconsin is the oldest remaining Studio C Alpha. It is very unique, having props and set pieces like the desk and pizza phone being different from the finalized Studio C Alpha.
- The Studio C Alpha at the Entertainment Department in Dallas, Texas (formerly located in Irving) has a prototype Rockstar Shirt and has LED strips on the window behind Chuck E.
- The Studio C Alpha in Franklin, Tennessee was the only one in the state, and had no curtains. This location was remodeled in 2019.
- The Studio C Alpha in St. Louis, Missouri was used to train techs from the 2000’s, until 2016. This location has since removed their stage for 2.0 in 2019.
- Before its closure in 2001, the Studio C Alpha in Dallas (Montfort) Texas was the very first Studio C Alpha ever installed.
- The Studio C Alpha in Richmond "Broad", Virginia has a brink background behind the Ticket Blaster. This location is the last Studio C Alpha in the state.
- The Studio C Alpha in Whitby, Ontario, Canada is currently the only Studio C Alpha outside the U.S. and the last 32-movement animatronic outside the U.S.
- The Studio C Alpha in Plano, Texas was in a state of disrepair in 2015 and was fixed. They got a dance floor and the stage is now at the Dearborn, Michigan location.
TV Props/Bird Props
- The Studio C Alpha in Dearborn, Michigan is the Alpha from Plano, Texas, and has a red Apple TV.
- The Studio C Alpha in Fort Wayne, Indiana (among others like Dearborn, Michigan, Sterling Heights, Michigan, Wyomissing, PA and East Orlando FL.) has a unique red Apple TV.
- The Studio C Alpha in North Richland Hills, Texas does not have Bird and has a unique TV that replaced the old Apple TV.
- Before their remodel in 2019 and closure in 2020, the Grand Chute, WI location did not have an Apple TV on their stage, but instead had a flat screen TV.
- The Studio C in Fresno, California (Shaw Ave) is the last to have the small TV screens located on the ceiling near the room flood lights.