On August 12, 2019 Walt Disney World opened a brand new location at Disney Springs, the resort's massive shopping and dining marketplace. The NBA Experience was a joint venture between Disney and the National Basketball Association that promised to be the sort of place that any fan of the game would want to visit. While the grand opening just over two years ago pulled out all the stops, the location was only open for seven months before the global pandemic forced it to close along with the rest of Disney World. However, when the rest of the resort reopened, the NBA Experience did not, and Disney has now confirmed the NBA experience is closed for good.
According to theme park reporter Scott Gustin, the decision to shutdown NBA Experience was a mutual decision made between Disney and the NBA. This is by far the biggest single casualty of the pandemic from a theme park stand point, at least when it comes to the physical size of the facility that is closing. Cast members who worked there were informed earlier today...
The decision to permanently shut down the NBA Experience is more than a little surprising if only because the space was barely given a chance to open. having said that, reports from the early days were that it was never all that popular. When new attractions open at Disney World they tend to have massive lines, and this is just as true for new eateries at Disney Springs as it is for new rides in the theme parks. But the NBA Experience never had the problem of needing to turn people away.
If the NBA Experience hadn't needed to close in the first place it likely would have limped along even if attendance wasn't spectacular, but since the spot was closed already, it's likely seen as throwing too much good money after bad to bother reopening it.
Having said that, many Disney World fans are frustrated with the closure, not because they cared about the NBA Experience, but because they cared about the thing that closed to make way for it, and so seeing Disney give up on the NBA Experience so fast feels like a slap in the face. DisneyQuest was a massive Disney themed arcade space that included what were, at its inception, state of the art AR and VR game experiences themed after Disney rides and films. There were a lot of people that loved DisneyQuest. The biggest frustration was that, after it opened, little time and money was spent in keeping the games up to date or even in good repair, and eventually it became a shell of its former self.
Of course, now that the NBA Experience is closed, there's a pretty big space at Disney Springs that needs filling. Could we see a new Disney Quest, or some sort of spiritual successor to it? A lot of people are already hoping that could happen. While something new will arrive eventually, there's certainly no indication that anything will be happening in the short term. The DisneyQuest building sat empty for a while before construction actually began on the NBA experience, so we could see this shell of what once was hanging around for some time.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.