Recent Hits and Misses: The NBA Experience

Even Mickey and Minnie couldn’t save The NBA Experience

Over the past few weeks I’ve been adding some #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFriday pictures to the Disney Over 50 Facebook and Instagram accounts. I love looking back. Many of the pictures that I’ve added are from rides or attractions that no longer exist. Some aren’t missed, like The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Others, like The Great Movie Ride, people do truly seem to miss. There has been a lot of change at Walt Disney World in the 14 years that my family and I have lived here. Some changes have been hits, while others have missed the mark. I thought it might be fun to write a short series on these hits and misses.

So far I have for hits: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Flotillas, Pandora – The World of Avatar, Epcot International Festival of the Arts, World Celebration, Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana, and TRON Lightcycle / Run. Misses: Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, Harmonious, Disney Genie+, and Good-to-Go Days. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a little bit hit and a little bit miss.

You could learn about the players and the teams

This time, I’d like to talk about what I think is the biggest miss since I moved to Florida in 2010. No, I’m not talking about Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser again. That made the miss list mostly because it was so expensive, people couldn’t afford it. This miss was affordable, but no one was interested. Let’s head to Disney Springs and The NBA Experience.

Opening ceremony

In 2017, DisneyQuest closed in Disney Springs. While DisneyQuest was dated and needed some TLC, instead of reimagining it the building was demolished. The NBA Experience was the replacement.

Basketball greats at the opening ceremony

On August 12, 2019, The NBA Experience opened to much fanfare. Basketball greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Swin Cash were part of the official ceremony. Bob Iger and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver were also on hand. It was obvious that The NBA Experience was supposed to be a big deal.

Inside, there were two floors with themed stations. Each station had a different game to play. Some were physical games, like dunking, while others showed your knowledge of the game. The physical games could be adjusted for different heights and abilities. You could also learn more about the game and its players. It was supposed to be the perfect outing for a family. At $34 per adult, $29 for kids, it was a fairly cheap way to spend a few hours.

You were supposed to feel as if you were stepping into the game

The was one major problem. No one cared. Crowds didn’t flock to The NBA Experience, it never became must-do for a day off from the theme parks.

The lack of food options didn’t help. At DisneyQuest, there was a Food Court. It may not have been gourmet, but it was fast and available if the kids got hungry. There was no dining inside The NBA Experience. While you could leave and come back, for many that just wasn’t convenient.

The dunk station

I went to The NBA Experience once. I was invited by Walt Disney World to attend opening day. I had a great time! That said, it was never high on my list to go back to. If it was included with my Annual Pass, sure. But unlike DisneyQuest, it wasn’t.

Walt Disney World did try to stir up interest locally for The NBA Experience. I saw countless ads that were aimed at people who live in Central Florida. Most of them that I saw were online. It didn’t make much of a difference.

Want to feel short?

The NBA Experience ended up being a casualty of the COVID-19 closure. Walt Disney World shut down in March, 2020. The NBA Experience never reopened. The space has been used from time to time, but I haven’t heard anything about permanent plans. I suppose it’s possible that The NBA Experience could reopen as it was someday, but I kind of doubt it. There just wasn’t enough interest.