Theme Park Insider

The NBA is Going to Walt Disney World

June 3, 2015, 11:05 AM · Walt Disney World announced today it is developing an NBA-themed restaurant and attraction experience for its Disney Springs shopping and dining district at the resort.

According to the resort's press release, "The NBA Experience" will offer "immersive NBA video productions and numerous interactive experiences, as well as a restaurant and a retail store."

"Wait a minute," I hear many of you asking yourselves. "Didn't I already go someplace like that on my last visit to Orlando?" Well, if you visited Universal Orlando, you did. NBA City has been showing live and classic NBA games and serving meals to visitors since it opened at Universal's CityWalk in 1999.

NBA City

Of course, back then, NBA games in the United States aired on Universal's future corporate sibling, NBC. But in 2002, the league switched its games to Disney-owned ABC, which retains those rights to this day, making a presence at the Walt Disney World Resort an act of corporate synergy.

Universal Orlando has not yet announced anything about NBA City, but with its announcement this week of "NBC Sports Grill & Brew," a new sports-themed bar and restaurant at the resort, many observers expect NBA City won't be around much longer. (Update: See below.) When it opened in 1999, NBA City was intended to be the first in a global chain of NBA-themed restaurants, but it ended up becoming a, well, one-shot deal.

Disney hasn't released a specific opening date for The NBA Experience yet, noting only that "initial development work has just begun."

Update: And the other Air Jordan drops. Universal Orlando posted this to its Facebook page on Thursday morning, June 4:

Several months ago, we decided not to renew the lease for NBA City so we could create an exciting, new concept for that space. We'll announce the new concept soon – and it will join all the other great experiences we’ve opened at CityWalk. NBA City closes in late August.

Replies (10)

June 3, 2015 at 11:28 AM · Losing NBA at UO would be disappointing -- I don't give a rip about sports, but the food there is really good and it's usually fairly quiet and relaxed. I'd miss it.... And the new NBC sports place just looks obnoxious with all those TVs....
June 3, 2015 at 11:42 AM · I also liked the food at NBA City especially the fried cheesecake and the cinnamon berries!! Yummy. I hope the menu goes to Disney Springs as well.
June 3, 2015 at 11:52 AM · I heard a while a go that NBA City was going to be replaced by a WWE Hall of Fame and restaurant, it's that something that could be on the cards?
June 3, 2015 at 12:13 PM · Losing NBA City is probably good news. It adds more space on the "park side" of the resort, and while the space that it currently occupies probably wont turn into an attraction, it may represent space to move backstage and support areas to allow expansion within IOA. I wouldn't be surprised if Hard Rock is next followed soon by the Blue Man Group theater. Everything to the west of the lagoon is precious space that should be used to support the theme park operations.
June 3, 2015 at 1:11 PM · The rumors of NBA City leaving Citi Walk have been hot & heavy for two years. Looks like it will probably happen now. I like Russell's idea of park expansions into that area if vacated, but that's the first time I've read of anybody suggesting that idea. Great idea though.
June 3, 2015 at 6:29 PM · Damnit, Disney, what don't you own these days?!
June 3, 2015 at 9:34 PM · Alphabet soup. NBA? Sure. What happened to ESPN Zone?
June 4, 2015 at 10:44 AM · Once again, Disney gets sloppy seconds... we blew the Potter negotiations... lets grab... um... Avatar. That'll learn 'em...
June 5, 2015 at 12:26 PM · Replace it with a Chick-fil-a and it'll be the best restaurant in CityWalk
June 5, 2015 at 6:33 PM · I love how Universal spins it: "we decided not to renew the lease for NBA City..."

Yeah, like they had a choice.

The PR people for Universal and Disney just crack me up sometimes.

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