Disney World unveils concept art, opening date for its NBA Experience

October 19, 2017, 2:16 PM · Disney revealed today that the facade for the upcoming NBA Experience in Walt Disney World's Disney Springs will look like an NBA arena.

The NBA Experience will open in summer 2019 on the site of the old DisneyQuest building, which Disney is now tearing down.

The new building will feature "interactive games and competitions, immersive experiences, a retail store and an adjacent restaurant," according to Disney's press release. Disney first announced the project in 2015, then put it on the back burner for more than a year, before announcing DisneyQuest's closure earlier this year. However, Disney's not provided any details on what the building's "experiences" will entail. Today's imagery provides the first look at any concept art for the project.

NBA Experience - Concept art courtesy Disney

The NBA project appears to be one of Disney World's largest (to date) forays into creating branded experiences — theme park-like combinations of relatively small-scale attractions, retail, and/or dining designed specifically to promote a particular brand. Rival Universal recently brought a branded experience for NBC's Tonight Show into its Universal Studios Florida park with the Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction.

While branded experiences attempt to connect visitors with the brand being promoted, it's likely that the NBA Experience's restaurant, at least, will fail to recreate the experience of going to an NBA game in one significant way.

Smart move, partnering with a entertainment industry that charges even more for food and drinks than theme parks.


The NBA has had a presence in an Orlando-area theme park resort before, with the NBA City restaurant at Universal Orlando's City Walk, which Universal replaced with the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen last year. Back when Universal opened CityWalk, NBC (which is now part of Universal) owned the NBA's television broadcast rights. Today, those are the property of Disney-owned ABC. Which is why the NBA Experience is now coming to Walt Disney World.

Well, in a couple of years, at least.

Replies (14)

October 19, 2017 at 2:53 PM · My oh my, the price of that hot dog and bear simply boggles my mind.
As for the exterior, I think it looks fantastic.

Question - in a few years, when the NBA television rights are picked up by...say, FOX or CBS, does that mean this will become the MLS or NHL Experience?

October 19, 2017 at 5:11 PM · Eh, it'll take 'em at least 5-10 years after that to make the switch.
October 19, 2017 at 6:01 PM · ROFLMAO at the price of the hot dog :-)
October 19, 2017 at 8:37 PM · Still sad about DisneyQuest, always loved that place.
October 19, 2017 at 9:56 PM · Meh. The whole thing looks bad, and smacks of the old NASCAR place at Citywalk (even the roofline looks similar). Disney Springs is so weird, it’s like they want an upscale clientele, but if you go... there are lines out the door for T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe, and kids swarming the Lego Store and the like. But nope, none of the new stuff for the Springs is family-oriented, aside from the Coca-Cola store. Even that has a rooftop bar.

I just don’t understand why they couldn’t pick something more imaginative for this space. Or the property as a whole... the redesign of Pleasure Island is nice, trendy, and well-designed, but misses the mark for the resort’s biggest audience. Even all the new dining is nice, but families will probably stick to the aforementioned restaurants or Earl of Sandwich. The cuisine is nice, but there aren’t enough “Everyman” options.

October 20, 2017 at 5:08 AM · Disney could have found a much better use for that space. I have always been surprised they never built a theatre on property to house one of their long running Broadway shows in.
October 20, 2017 at 6:06 AM · Is the NBA really still all that popular?
October 20, 2017 at 8:58 AM · Once again puts Universal to shame. What did they do with NBA World? It was not visited at all by visitors, now with this new Disney opening, NBA will be a top sport again.
October 20, 2017 at 9:36 AM · I think most Disney fans would rather have Universal's chocolate themed restaurant. Universal at least seems to be improving upon things and giving people what they want. I thought this was a joke it looks like villains park from Space Jam
Chocolate emporium > NBA city
NBC sports grill > NASCAR cafe
October 20, 2017 at 10:49 AM · First I must say I really miss Disney Quest, I could spend hours just playing games inside. Second, didn't Disney learn anything from Universal? NBA City was a failure. One sport, even American football, will not make the place popular. Take it from NBC Sports Bar and Grill and appeal to all the sports as possible, then it will have a chance. I.e. copy ESPN Club to Disney Springs.

I will check this place out though...

October 20, 2017 at 12:14 PM · Ha! Let’s ignore NBC Sports Bar/Grills success and what exactly replacesd NBA City? Oh yeah, a chocolate restaurant that was successful. Nice try but not good enough troll.
October 21, 2017 at 12:22 PM · Did NBA City close because it wasn't popular and "failed"? Or did it close because the broadcast rights changed hands?

My two cents - The smart move would have been in turning this into a soccer-based restaurant. Not only is MLS expanding, but they have an Orlando club, futbol is the world's sport, and it's super popular in Brazil and the UK, where Disney World gets a ton of visitors.

I imagine they'll regret the choice a few years down the line.


October 21, 2017 at 2:00 PM · I hope the building's architecture is done in a way it can be reused after it crashes and burns. The only worse thing they could do would be to make this a soccer experience (sorry Gabriel, but foreign tourists aren't going to be excited about second-rate American soccer when a much better product is in their home countries.)
October 24, 2017 at 3:41 PM · I am from the UK and have to agree with Twobits above comment.

My family loved Disney Quest as unlike soccer or football as we call it there was nothing like Disney Quest in the UK, was great also for the kids to go play while the adults could sit and have some adult time all under one roof safe and sound.

The NBA concept to me sounds good but I wonder how limited on what it will offer outsid3 food an£ drinks.

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