Holy extravaganza! That got your attention! Happy New Year to all, and what better way to officially kick it off than with a new birthday show, rightfully titled "Birthday Extravaganza." While this show hit some stores in 2007 during the testing phases, it has officially been released to all as of January 2008, and from this point on will be the only live show. I know what you're thinking, why did he call it a "live show" when technically it's a "birthday show"... see kids, the whole thing is now it doesn't matter what I call it, because it is what it is; the one and only. What better way to ensure all stores are the same than by providing them with only one song to use. Some call it genius, some other things I can't mention on a website where everyone is a kid. :-)

I had the pleasure of working in one of the eleven stores testing this song over the summer, as well as the entire new birthday format, so I've known for months now what was coming. That said, many of you are probably wondering why I didn't spill the beans earlier! And on top of that, why wait until January when everyone already knew it was coming? Well, that's my job. I'm not going to spoil it for you completely, and I figured you all would have plenty of time to associate yourselves with the song provided it is the only live/birthday/whatever you want to call it, you will be hearing from "this magic moment" on... oh hey September 2007! No seriously kids, This is it; the whole enchilada. It pains me to inform you that live shows have been retired, so much to my dismay no more "Chuck E. Shuffle" where we'd take one step forward, and one behind, and shake it to the left, and glide to the right... and for those of you who over analyze the lyrics of every song, I purposely did that because at a child's restaurant it seems a little risqué to say "shimmy." That said though, I am thankful for no more live shows because if the Chicken Dance was our new option we'd all be in a lot of trouble. Don't worry though, that review will be tasteful, too.

Did you know? The Birthday Extravaganza that is floating around our member list everyone is sharing isn't the actual version that is on the new show discs! That's right kids, Dept. 18 added in a little "Happy Birthday" photo session at the end of it, so now you see lights flashing, and what sounds like a bunch of confused paparazzi attempting to shoot (photos that is!) and catch everyone's attention so they can get a great picture! What better way to end an already long song than by scaring little Johnny the fruitcake jockey with an awkward, yet obnoxious pause for photos!

Wow! In just two minutes Chuck E. Cheese's Birthday Extravaganza starts! That's right kids, there are two versions of the song are available to all restaurants: 2 minute countdown and 5 minute countdown. So for those cast members who are bored, it's like playing Deal or No Deal. Two minutes is best for during the week for a party or two and those stores who have amazing Birthday Coordinators (or the person wearing the yellow shirt) who can attempt and pull off getting the birthday stars up and ready for a march in such a limited time. OR! You have a 5 minute countdown where it gives you time to scramble and realize you actually need a Game Room Attendant to go wake up Chuck E., grab your cake and make another announcement to call your guests back to your table. Again, Deal or No Deal?

-3 out of 5 Tokens-

Whew! So those secrets are cool aren't they? Too bad the show doesn't really thrill me. I know, everyone was all excited when they heard there was a Birthday 2007, but then they actually heard the song. Maybe the saying "good things come to those who wait" doesn't always ring true. While I love the idea of the new birthday format, I feel like this show depresses the mood and is not different at all. A drum solo is nice, but when you really think about it, the only thing that's changed is the added march and the solo. I am happy to report we have the "signature" CEC birthday song back. When you say birthday at Chuck E. Cheese's, children and adults all know the song, "we say happy, you say birthday!" and it took them five years of suffering through Eddie Coker's song to realize that. Nothing against Eddie, but that song was fun when the kids got to bake a cake, but you show me a store that always timed it perfectly for the lighting of the candles and actual happy birthday song for every wave on a busy Saturday or Sunday during first quarter, and I'll take that last line or three back.

This show really doesn't thrill me at all, so my rating is what it is. I am happy CEC went back to their original song though. Perhaps Jenn's years of rants about Coker's song didn't fall on deaf ears. That said though, if you listen to the Chicken Dance live show one might disagree. I love that the announcement is now built in so every store has to use it. What I love is that each store is provided with a sample script of what to say, and if each store is creative, they can make it their own. When my Birthday Coordinator and I worked on this song, we came up with something that could be exclusive to our store, yet still keeping true to the script provided by home office. That said though, I know the question I'll see on thriving SP.com Forum is, "where's the magic without a LIVE show?" well my friends this is the ONE opportunity a store has to wow its guest. I like that there is no "second chance" to blow them away, and this puts the emphasis on one song. I would become a frustrated person when I was starting Birthday 02 and all the kids were gone, so I had to make another announcement, and wait for them to come back... and as a result that party ran late. One song is all that is needed, and like I said this is the one chance that crazy mouse of the house and his crew have to blow everyone away. I encourage you to take a trip to a local Chuck E. Cheese's and experience the extravaganza yourself. One cannot judge it over the internet, one must physically see what it is. They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I'll leave you with that for this show, we'll see you when we see you.