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Disney World announces new bowling complex for Downtown Disney

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Published: July 12, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Universal Orlando's adding mini-golf to its CityWalk. So Walt Disney World is seeing that and countering with bowling at Downtown Disney.

Artist concept of Splitsville at Downtown Disney
Artist's concept courtesy Disney

Disney announced today that construction will begin this fall on a Splitsville, a four-location chain with current outlets in Tampa, Miami, Texas and Virginia. Splitsville will be going into the West Side building that now houses Ridemarkerz, which will move to the Marketplace.

Splitsville is not simply a bowling alley, but, in Disney's words, "a 50,000-square-foot upscale entertainment center that combines bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife."

Sounds like this place will try to do for bowling what Dave & Buster's did for video arcades. Thoughts?

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on July 12, 2011 at 4:21 PM
I just saw it on the orlando sentinel and was gonna submit it lol. It sounds like fun, and when I first read it, I was like "Oh no what will happen to RM?!?!" Glad to know its being moved to the marketplace.
From steve lee on July 12, 2011 at 4:45 PM
Wasn't this already in the works once? I'd swear we were talking about a Lucky Strike going in a few years ago...
From Andrew Carrieri on July 12, 2011 at 5:22 PM
From 1996-2007, there was a similar concept that existed near my home in Lake Grove, Long Island. Called Sports Plus, it consisted of a bowling alley, restaurants, convention/party center, family amusement center, and ice rink. It got publicity in 1997 when the Professional Bowling Tour hosted one of its events there. Unfortunately, as great a concept as it was, it was totally mismanaged (high prices and they catered more to the partiers than the regular bowlers) and closed its doors in 2007.
Here is a clip from the aforementioned 1997 event:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKQVqgRpTk0
From Anthony Murphy on July 13, 2011 at 6:21 AM
Sounds good to me!
From Domenik Jost on July 13, 2011 at 7:35 AM
So now the question I have is this the replacement for the postponed 100 lane bowling alley that they were going to build a few years back when Disney rebranded Wide World of Sports? And how many lanes are they going to have there?

I like the idea and it seems Disney is slowly achieving that goal of trying to make Downtown Disney a destination for locals again.

From Jay Lee on July 13, 2011 at 7:46 AM
If it's anything like the Tampa location, it won't be the "replacement" of the 100 lane proposal. I've only been once, but I'm pretty sure in Tampa there are only around 16 lanes. It's a very intimate club like atmosphere, a lot of billiard tables, bars and lounges mixed in with bowling lanes that are usually in pairs spread out around the floor (not lined up like a typical alley). I'm assuming this one will be slightly larger to draw in the bigger crowds. Should be a nice addition to Downtown Disney!
From Daniel Etcheberry on July 13, 2011 at 8:33 AM
What a great idea! Bowling is always popular.

I found Ridemarkerz to be pointless. I liked Virgin Records much more, but new technology made that kind of store outdated.

My #1 choice for that space was a Walt Disney museum like the one in San Francisco, but Disney needs a bowling complex to compete with Universal's mini golf which is something that is always popular as well.

From Larry Zimmerman on July 13, 2011 at 8:56 AM
I wouldn't use this venue unless WDW were going to "Disneyfy" the experience. I have multiple bowling alleys to choose from (some with pool tables and bars!) right here in my home town.

But give me animated bowling pins, talking ball returns, and fairies randomly granting strikes, and I might roll in to see what's going on.

So, I'll keep an open frame of mind, but unless Disney can raise these lanes out of the gutter, I'll have to strike this venue from my plans, and spend my spare time someplace else.

From Mike Gallagher on July 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM
Larry:

Boo. Hiss.

You're a punny guy.

From Tony Perkins on July 13, 2011 at 10:31 AM
Who goes all the way to Orlando to go bowling? Unless it's going to have some really interesting theming like the Disney mini-golf courses, I can't see why anyone would want to go simply bowling, which one can do pretty much anywhere in the country, in a location where there are so many unique or near-unique things to do in the Disney parks or Universal or Legoland or SeaWorld or... you get the idea.
From 173.162.139.169 on July 13, 2011 at 11:37 AM
Anything that adds another option to nighttime entertainment at WDW is welcomed. Ever since WDW closed Pleasure Island there has been a serious lack of after park-closing activities available (especially during the off season when the parks close fairly early in the evening) if your not into shopping.

I still think Disney made a mistake when they closed the comedy and adventurer's clubs instead of turning them into separate admission venues and moving them to a more prominent location in either the west side or the marketplace...And this was after they made a big mistake of turning PI into a non ticketed venue and started attracting the "riffraff".

From Tom Rigg on July 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Like Domenik said above, this could be part of the ultimate goal to get more locals to come to Downtown Disney. I have several friends who live in the Orlando area and they would love to spend more time in Downtown Disney, but there is little there worth repeating aside from going to the movies. This will hopefully help populate West Side a little more too. Its a pretty narrow vision to think Disney is only after the out-of-towners. Granted that's what it looks like, but if they are smart they will go for the local greenbacks too.
From Anon Mouse on July 13, 2011 at 3:34 PM
I really hate bowling. There seems to be only two varieties. (1) The low rent smokey and sleazy bowling alley with carnival barkers for customer service, or (2) High priced nightclub cocktail bowling alleys with slurry bartenders and pushy waitresses. Nothing attractive about either concept.
From Marcus Guimaraes on July 13, 2011 at 5:47 PM
Wait wait wait wait wait, that building is much smaller than the Virgin/RM building. They're not planning to tear it down, are they?

And for Downtown Disney to become a place where the locals come, they really need to improve the parking situation. You can't even find a spot there!

From TH Creative on July 15, 2011 at 7:52 AM
This is a fantastic idea! Especially considering its location at the far west side. You will have bowling, DisneyQuest, Cirque, HOB all at one end of the complex.

My question is the "after 8 PM" rule. According to the Splitsville.com their facilities do not allow under 21-types in after 8 PM.

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