Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location is coming soon. With all the speculation surrounding the game and new theories being built every week, fans are eagerly awaiting news and further developments on what to expect from Scott Cawthon’s newest game. For years there have been questions regarding the origins of FNaF and what exactly inspired the twisted plotlines we experience in the series’ games. There have been many variations on the pizza party restaurant combined with an arcade and performing animatronics, but here are a few of the most likely places that may have influenced the ongoing story and mythology that is Five Nights at Freddy’s.
Chuck E. Cheese’s
Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant chain is the most popular family destination featuring pizza parties and musical animatronics still operating today. Billed as an entertainment center for all ages. Chuck E. Cheese’s caters mostly to kids between their toddler and pre-teen years who want to eat pizza, play arcade games and earn tickets for novelty prizes. The chain’s history is actually rooted in the video game industry, as it was the brainchild of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, who wanted to expand the presence of video game arcade machines into more kid-friendly venues.
The restaurants all have a similar layout with the most distinctive feature being the performance stages set up at the end of the dining area. Kids and parents are treated to songs and jokes delivered to the audience from multiple animatronics, and employees will wear mascot costumes often to visit tables and entertain guests.
The animatronics at Chuck E. Cheese’s are very similar to the figures that inhabit the Five Nights at Freddy’s world. Characters like Helen Henny, the guitar playing dog Jasper T. Jowls and the famous frontman rat that shares the restraint’s namesake all bear a strong resemblance to FNaF’s Freddy, Chica and Bonnie. The gimmick is very similar and regardless of whether game developer Scott Cawthon intended it or not, fans can easily see how Five Nights at Freddy’s seems like a nightmarish take on what could happen at a Chuck E. Cheese’s after dark.
The most compelling evidence for Chuck E. Cheese being an inspiration for the Five Nights at Freddy’s games is detailed in the following Game Theorists video, where they draw some eery similarities between the backstory of the games and a real-life tragedy that occurred at a Chuck E. Cheese’s location in Aurora, CO in December 1993.
ShowBiz Pizza Place
ShowBiz Pizza was the original restaurant destination that set the bar for family fun, pizza parties and animatronic entertainment under one roof. Before the Chuck E. Cheese’s characters became the family franchise destination we know today, ShowBiz Pizza Place was the direct descendent of the Pizza Time Theater chain started by creators Robert L. Brock and the team at Creative Engineering, Inc. ShowBiz was led by a group of mascot animatronics that even included Chuck E. Cheese at one point. The divide that ultimately separated the two properties came when the restaurant attempted to improve their pizza recipe to attract customers. The change failed and forced the company to file bankruptcy.
Billy Bob Brockali is most likely the mascot that has influenced Five Nights at Freddy’s the most. The oversized bear was a character based on southern tropes and led the performances that took place in the theater sections of the restaurants. The Rock-afire Explosion band would perform musical numbers to keep guests entertained between dining on pizza and playing arcade games on the main floor. Again, employees would don the Billy Bob suit to entertain partygoers, which players of FNaF can easily connect to characters like Springtrap and Golden Freddy.
Country Bear Jamboree
When performing animatronics were developing into the design style that we know today, Walt Disney built a project to entertain theme-park guests by having an animal band play live music. Disney had his Imagineering team move forward with the goal to bring his cartoon world to life so visitors could see an entertaining family of bears play rustic country music and tell funny jokes in between numbers. The Country Bear Jamboree quickly became a very popular attraction and eventually a feature film was produced that starred the show’s characters in their own “getting the band back together” zany adventure.
The Country Bear Jamboree is more of a stage show than anything with the animatronics performing in a theatrical setting. The show runs on a set schedule, and when the animatronics aren’t performing, the auditorium is closed off to the public. The bear band is the largest group of active robots in this kind of setup with 24 characters at the Magic Kingdom location, 50 at the Tokyo Disney park, and 48 at the now-defunct Disneyland attraction.
Bullwinkle’s Pizza Parlor
Bullwinkle’s Restaurant started off as a Southern California chain that used characters from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show to entertain guests. Opening in the early ’80s, Bullwinkle’s established themselves as a family fun center that contained an arcade, dining area and animatronic performers from everybody’s favorite kid’s cartoon featuring the titular moose and squirrel. This chain never really caught on nationally in the way that ShowBiz Pizza and Chuck E. Cheese’s did, but you can still find locations operating today in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
A significant similarity to the Five Nights at Freddy’s series is how the restaurant would combine horror and children’s entertainment to create a very unsettling experience. Bullwinkle’s was a popular destination for family entertainment year-round, but in the mid-’80s the restaurant would celebrate Halloween by opening a walk through haunted house on site. Even the animatronics and stage layouts would get decorated for the nightmare-inducing holiday. No other establishment combined horror and animatronics the way Bullwinkle’s did, and terrified kids would get free tokens, pizza, and popcorn if the environment became too scary.
Zenon’s Musical Robots
In the 1950s Belgian electronic engineer Zenon Specht created a trio of performing robots. The Trio Fantastique was a trio of animatronics that played music at the Robot Club located in Antwerp, Belgium. Patrons would feed nickels into a slot located in front of the robots and the figures would mime playing guitar, sax and drums while couples danced happily. The band was made up of characters named Wink, Blink and Nod, and they all had distinctive human features similar to the Tin-Man from The Wizard of Oz.
These animatronics can easily be connected to the new characters we have seen announced for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location. They are all very humanoid in appearance and featured shiny chrome designs that mirrored the look of robots at the time. While the faces of these figures didn’t move the way the new animatronics in Sister Location do, the inner construction of each bot was very advanced and the band was eventually built to actually play their instruments instead of relying on piano roll technology. They truly were a terrifying marvel of the modern age.