1982: The Beginnings

The first location, Santa Clara, opened up in 1982. This was the official prototype location which had a promotional video for expansion purposes. The concept was similar to Chuck-E-Cheese where families could come in, dine on pizza, play arcade games with special tokens, and watch the animatronic entertainment.

The concept, developed by Dave Brown, included an animatronic show (based on characters mostly by Jay Ward) in a theatre-style dining room known as Bullwinkle's Showroom. This show came to be known as the prototype stage which included a 3-stage setup. The center stage featured licensed characters such as Bullwinkle, Rocky, Tooter Turtle, Hoppity Hooper, Underdog, Boris, and Natasha. Stage right (audience left) featured Dudley Do-Right, and stage left (audience right) featured Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley. Budget cuts prevented Bullwinkle's from utilizing turn tables on the side stages to reveal additional characters (including a constructed but never-used Polly Purebred). Additionally, there was a fountain attraction in front of the stage that was known as the Fantasy Fountain Show. There was also a side stage near the entrance called Dudley Do-Right's Lock-Up which featured Snidely Whiplash. All of the animatronics were designed and manufactured by Fred Hope from The Only Animated Display & Design Company.

Prototype StageSnidely Whiplash

The arcade area was known as Underdog's Mighty Metropolis, which included classic and contemporary arcade games. There was also a mini photography studio called Mr. Peabody's Improbable Picture Place, which was sometimes renamed with the word “palace” replacing “place.” The gift shop was known as Rocky's Trading Post, and there was a separate dining area away from the show room called Dudley's Den. The food items, which were frequently plugged by the animatronic performers, were named after the characters themselves.

Dudley Do-Right's Lock UpRocky's Trading PostDudley's DenUnderdog's MetropolisPeabody's Improbable Picture Place

EntranceDining RoomArcade Games

1983: Expansion

In 1983, Bullwinkle's expanded into Canada with a location in Edmonton, followed by one in Calgary the following year. By this point, the company needed to source new animatronics as Bullwinkle's and The Only Animated Display & Design Company were no longer in business together due to creative differences during the development process. Additionally, Bullwinkle's realized they needed to cut costs significantly in order to expand at the speed they wanted and compete with Chuck-E-Cheese. They found their answer in AVG Technologies, who were tasked with taking the blueprints from the original animatronics and modifying them to be mass-produced in a more cost-effective way. These changes resulted in what is known as the A Stage (A “Show”), which was almost identical to the prototype stage. This setup used new AVG-created animatronics, removed Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley, and rehomed Underdog to the stage left (audience right) position.

The new animatronics were very similar to the first generation ones, with some mild changes. Notable differences include Bullwinkle's knees being more highly positioned, Underdog and Dudley's facial structures being modified, Rocky's head movements being reduced, and Underdog's saxophone no longer having its own movement.

A Stage

Shortly after this, the Santa Clara location's prototype stage was also replaced with the A stage (effectively removing Tennessee Tuxedo and Chumley from the show concept permanently), and more locations with this stage started popping up in the United States including Federal Way, Norcross, Richmond, and their only overseas location, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

A StageA StageA Stage

Mid to Late 1980's: Further Expansion

In the mid to late 1980's, more locations continued to pop up but with a condensed animatronic stage setup known as the B Stage (B “Show”). These stages were a one-stage setup that removed the side stages and thus no longer featured Underdog or Dudley. While at least one B stage included Tooter Turtle, most had reduced the performing characters to just Bullwinkle, Rocky, Boris, and Natasha. Some of these locations also chose to do away with the Fantasy Fountain Show as well as Dudley Do-Right's Lock-Up.

B StageB StageB StageB Stage

Around this time, Family Fun Centers, a family entertainment concept which usually only had a snack bar, came into the picture and decided to put Bullwinkle's in their large entertainment centers as full restaurants. The locations that opened up around this time, including those that were in a Family Fun Center, included Chattanooga, El Cajon, Escondido, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Northridge, San Diego, Upland, Vista, and Wilsonville.

Additionally, some locations opened without a show at all. These included Edmonds, Grand Rapids, and Pensacola. At this point, their originally designed restaurant setups (with Underdog's Metropolis, for example) were no longer being used, making way for combining Family Fun Centers' existing arcade and amusement concept with the Bullwinkle's brand.

Late 1980's-Early 1990's: Changes

One of the more recent locations with a condensed show opened after AVG Technologies was no longer in business to manufacture new animatronics. At this point management had decided to do a redesign to modernize the concept, and enlisted Dreamation to create a brand new animatronic show. This resulted in the creation of the Turn Table (“Broadway”) stage. Meanwhile, at least one unknown location created a B Stage using Dreamation animatronics and a similar stage to the AVG one.

The new Turn Table stage used the same four characters that most of the B stages used, but with newly constructed animatronics by Dreamation. This setup included a new turntable design in the style of a box office ticket booth. Boris and Natasha were now positioned side-by-side, and Bullwinkle and Rocky's masks were now made of fabric. Bullwinkle's outfit was changed from an orange jacket to a red Wossamotta U sweater. Dreamation masks would also slowly start to replace AVG masks in other locations. Only one of these stage setups was constructed (in the location described above, currently unknown but possibly the Chattanooga location). This stage would eventually be transferred to the newly opening Tukwila location. This setup did not include a fountain show.

B StageB Stage

Early 2000's: A New Vision

In the early 2000's, management decided to open three brand new locations: Cary, Medford, and Myrtle Beach. For these locations, they decided to rebrand further and focus all their efforts on creating a new image. They enlisted Dreamation again, along with Mozingo + Wallace, to create revitalized interior and exterior theming. Dreamation also designed a brand new “clubhouse,” decoratively placed on the side of the restaurant dining rooms, with a large grid of television screens to show newly produced Bullwinkle's content, as well as a door for a costumed Bullwinkle to emerge from.

In addition to the restaurant theming and the new clubhouse, Dreamation designed a new expanded stage show known as Northwoods. This was the first time in many years that new locations included a complete show with Dudley Do-Right and Underdog (although excluding Tennessee Tuxedo, Chumley, Tooter Turtle, and Hoppity Hooper). This stage utilized newly designed building facades, including a fire station that housed Bullwinkle and Rocky, a mini clubhouse replica that included Boris and Natasha above a large screen (or grid of screens), a police station that included Dudley Do-Right, and a billboard decoration that concealed Underdog. The Fantasy Fountain Show would make its return as well.


While this stage setup used the previously introduced Dreamation-created animatronics for Bullwinkle, Rocky, Boris, and Natasha, it opted to use refurbished Underdog and Dudley animatronics from previously closed A-stage locations with new masks.

Dudley Do-Right's Lock Up made its return with a newly green Snidely Whiplash. While the Cary and Myrtle Beach locations included the Fantasy Fountain Show, the Medford location did not. The Medford location also reversed the order of the three building facades.

NellUnderdogDudley Do-RightSnidely Whiplash

ExteriorRocky's Trading PostFood Counter


In 2001 Bullwinkle's filed for bankruptcy, and many of the existing locations (of which there were not that many by this point) started to close at a rapid pace, including Cary, one of its newest locations. A small handful of locations continued to operate as Bullwinkle's, with the other locations being converted into Boomers!, including Medford. Some Boomers! locations did not remove their animatronic shows, however, and continued to operate them as if nothing had changed. Eventually, the shows would fall into disrepair and become not much more than unsettling decorations.

Present Day

Eventually, both Medford and Myrtle Beach closed. The Medford location remained abandoned for several years until the animatronics were eventually sold off. The Upland location (also a Boomers!) closed as well, but would eventually reopen as a Bullwinkle's (sans show). Most remaining Bullwinkle's locations also decided to remove their shows.

Presently, three locations that had converted to Boomers! are still in operation, all without an animatronic show. These are Irvine, Santa Clara, and Vista. Edmonds was rebranded as another entertainment center but has also closed.

There are three locations currently operating as Bullwinkle's: Tukwila, the newly reopened Upland, and Wilsonville, all which operate as part of a Family Fun Center. Tukwila's location, with the Turn Table (“Broadway”) stage, is the one and only location of either Bullwinkle's or Boomers!, to still operate an animatronic show. It is likely that this show will eventually be removed. The most recent active show to be removed was the Wilsonville location.

Upland LocationWilsonville LocationWilsonville LocationUpland Location