The Awesome Adventure Machine was a grand experiment, which unfortunately never made it beyond the initial test location which was the Monfort Store in Dallas, TX. Not since the days of the Pizza Time Theatre Cabaret & Lounge acts had a single animatronic character performed on a stage. And never before had a single character held the main stage. So to make up for the absent cast, Chuck E was surrounded by an assortment of special effects.
The grand idea was to create a stage that would appeal to the children of the '90s - something that could better engage the video generation kids. The AAM aimed to take kids of all ages on various adventures in and throughout the world and through time - exploring other planets or a jungle through video escapades, with Chuck E as the pilot and emcee.
The AAM was comprised of only one stage which contained the Chuck E animatronic, and was surrounded by two gigantic 10-foot video screens. The stage was actually too big to fit in the Dept 18 programming room, so all shows were programmed on-site at the Monfort store. The showtapes were also slightly different from the ones released for other stores - different audio tracks were used to accentuate the features of the AAM not found on the other existing stages.
Chuck E. was dressed in a sporty yellow, pink, and blue outfit - complete with hat, elbow pads, and a "Chuck E. Cheese" labeled shirt. In his chamber, he was accompanied by several moving background objects, which appear as though he's built the machine himself out of junk. All in all, there were over 500 individual pieces (everyday household items, ranging from bicycle wheels to bathroom scales) integrated into the AAM contraption. The showroom also included computerized lights and movements from items that an inventive pack rat might have put together -- animated globes, tricycles, trash cans, hubcaps, tennis rackets, irons and bubbling water bottles.
The AAM stage had many "intelligent" lighting effects on the stage itself and also around the showroom. The screen to the left of Chuck E's stage has a lighted zig-zag pattern and the screen to the right has a lighted gear-shaped pattern. Above the screens and leading to Chuck E's stage are several sets of twisted neon lights, which appear to be electrical currents when programmed to quickly flash back and forth. There were several lighting effects that appeared from inside Chuck E's chamber as well, and above Chuck E was a LED board which could spell out messages and also display designs. Instead of curtains, his stage was opened and closed by a vertical sliding door.
Along with Chuck E., the AAM contained a handful of side characters that surrounded him in the machine. They included:
Brainivac - a combination of computers, calculators and a vacuum cleaner who acts as Chuck E.'s first officer; calculating coordinates and keeping the command module tidy.
Dusty - side kick to Brainivac, a mechanical dog-like device that sniffs out new data for the Awesome Adventure Machine's main computer. Don't worry, his bark is worse than his byte.
O.R.B.I.S. - (Onboard Radar and Bearings Intelligence System), the Awesome Adventure Machine's navigational tracking system keeps Chuck E. on course and out of trouble... also provides time and temperature.
SPT recruited some of the Dallas area's best local talent to assist them in the production of the entertainment for the AAM. This team included Brave Combo, a Grammy-nominated musical group based in Denton, script writer Steven White of Plano, (prior work included Barney and Friends), and the Stokes group, an award winning video effects and post production company. The 22-movement AAM Chuck E animatronic was believed to be created by Animation World.
Unfortunately we don't know a great deal about the technical operation of the Awesome Adventure Machine. The show ran off laserdiscs and used a rather expensive Dolby integrated 7-channel surround-sound system. The 10-foot video screens were operated by two rear-projection screen systems. It should also be noted that the Monfort store was formerly a ShowBiz, so the AAM replaced what was once a 3-Stage. It has been assumed that the animatronic recycled the old mac valve bank formerly used by a 3-Stage character.
The AAM trademark was applied for in May of 1996 and soon after was abandoned, as a statement of usage was never filed by SPT. The AAM stage made it's public debut on August 21, 1996. It can therefore be assumed that the concept was pretty much dead in the water shortly following its creation. Former employees who worked at the Monfort store during the AAM period recall corporate execs coming to see the show and commenting that it was far too expensive to install system-wide.
The original idea of the complex AAM stage was an attempt to bring Chuck E into the 21st century. Pressure from competitors like Discovery Zone was forcing CEC to rethink its entertainment options, and a greater focus was placed on the availibility of "free" entertainment, and the AAM was in no short supply of entertaining bells and whistles.
Although the AAM never made it past the test phase, much of the concept (single robot, extensive use of video footage) was carried over into the next generation Studio C
, which was released system-wide. It is curious to note that the initial Studio C prototype was installed in the Monfort store as well. After successful surveys and response, Studio C was installed in Dept 18 for mass programming and soon after began appearing throughout the US.
The information posted on this page is the culmination of everything we know about this stage. There are some short video clips that can be found in our Video Archive
, and the above photo is the only one currently known to exist. If you happen to have any further information on the AAM or photos or videos to share, please contact us