I read this short story in the 1980s, probably in Amazing or F&SF. An uncle is taking his nephew to an amusement park - the uncle doesn't see his nephew often, and finds him off-putting. Either the uncle knows that the other kids call the boy "Pugsley" or the comparison leaps to his mind independently. Somehow the two end up trapped in a ride or after hours at the park, and menaced by the audio-animatronic creatures in the ride, that have developed sentience (the boy may be a computer fanatic). At the end of the story, the boy saves the day - he tells the creatures that his uncle works for the electric company (possibly using the term "Con Edison" or "Con Ed" (making this a Coney Island story)); the creatures, being powered by electricity, naturally fear someone who can cut the power off.

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"The Boy Who Talked to the Animals", a short story by Stephen Gallagher, first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1985, available at the Internet Archive.

"Please," he said, "don't call me Petey. Just Pete will do. Pete's just fine."

I shrugged. "Whatever you say. Is that what your friends call you?"

"No," he said, and he started to put the burger wrappings and the wax cups back onto the tray to be cleared away. "They call me Pugsley."

Pete said, "I told them that you were my uncle who worked for Con Ed. I said they had to let you go."

And then he sat back, as if that explained everything. But I didn’t understand, and it showed.

"Con Ed supplies the power," he said patiently. "Whom else would they pray to?"

  • Thank you! That's the one (and I see I've already asked about another story in that issue)
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:58

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