Ball is life. Today marks the grand opening of the NBA Experience at Disney Springs. The replacement for what once was Disney Quest has been in the works for quite some time now, and it’s finally complete.
Before we get into the tour, let’s hash out some logistics, or a game plan if you’re looking to make your visit a slam dunk:
The NBA Experience will officially begin admitting guests today starting at 5:00 PM, after the grand opening event concludes. Starting tomorrow, the NBA Experience will open daily at noon and remain open through 11:00 PM from Monday through Thursday, closing later on weekends at 11:30 PM. The adjacent NBA Store will open daily at 10:00 AM and follow the same closing schedule as the Experience.
Tickets for the NBA Experience can be purchased online, at the NBA Store, or at the Disney Ticket Center. Tickets cost $34.00 for ages 10 and up, and $29.00 for ages 3-9. Tickets provide one-day admission to NBA Experience and can be used for reentry on the same day. All ticket purchases are valid through December 31, 2020.
All guests who enter the NBA Experience will be required to sign a waiver (children will require a parent/legal guardian’s signature.) For convenience, you may view the waiver in advance. Guests must wear footwear at all times in the experience, and athletic shoes are recommended. Snacks and beverages can be brought in, but they should be covered.
Now, let’s take a tour through the all-new NBA Experience at Disney Springs:
You are welcomed to the building by massive, light-up NBA logo signage out front.
Once inside, you tap your MagicBand, which should have your pre-purchased ticket automatically loaded onto it, to the basketball scanner, which might look familiar to the ones in the parks.
The basketball design is a nice touch as opposed to the generic Mickey head.
After scanning in, you enter the “court” filled with flashing lights and loud music, just like at the start of a real NBA game.
The screens and displays above also resemble that of a real NBA court.
Here’s a look at the whole entry area, where each of the first floor experiences break off.
The second floor doesn’t give that NBA court vibe, but just like on the first floor, the experiences up here also break off from the main area, similar to how Disney Quest was laid out.
The stairway from the first floor to the second is a little bare, but of course, there are elevators available as well.
The restroom floors have the pattern of a basketball court laid out in contrasting tile, which is a very cute detail.
Once you’ve entered, you’re led to these registration screens. Registering overall helps make the experience a little more personalized.
First, you enter your age.
Next, you enter some basic NBA-oriented questions, like who your favorite team is…
Followed by your basketball skill level.
And finally, you pick a nickname to be displayed throughout your experience. You take your pick of two names from scroll-down menus.
After that, you’re ready to go enjoy a more personalized experience!
A better look at the screens above the main entrance show NBA highlights and memorable moments on loop.
The screens reach the second floor, which also shows a loop of NBA games and moments.
The arcade area features, naturally, arcade-style basketball hoop games, as well as previews of NBA 2K, and NBA Live.
On the first floor, the theater is tucked away in the back left corner. It has minimal color and signage, and it’s honestly difficult to notice that it even exists.
There are two films to enjoy, both consisting of about 10 minutes each.
The trivia area allows guests to compete against each other in an NBA knowledge competition.
You tap in on the baseball and then use the touchpad to choose your selected answer.
This game allows you to make the call as to whether or not an NBA play was a good or bad call, similar to the NBA Replay Center in New Jersey.
Features like zoom, pause, and change angle allow you to get a close look at what actually happened during the play, and you then hit “confirm” or “overturn” to make your decision.
“Draft Day” allows you to be selected by your favorite NBA team and have another series of three photos taken next to a wax model of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
When you tap into the photo kiosk, your personalized username and favorite team are displayed on the screen behind you, which creates an amazing, personalized photo which makes it look like you were actually drafted by your favorite team!
“Shoot!” is a neat opportunity to play on a large, though not quite regulation size, professional-looking NBA court.
You are paired up with a Cast Member and assisted to one side of the court (one player per side.) The Cast Member then passes balls to you as you run around the three-point line trying to make as many shots as you can, as quickly as possible.
There was a virtual crowd projected on the wall that would cheer you on as you made baskets, however, at my skill level, I didn’t make many. This was an enjoyable experience that allowed for interaction with employees and the chance to feel like you’re actually playing on a court.
Slingshot allows players to shoot foam balls into hoops. This is a fast-paced game that can be a lot of fun when the game is filled with players.
Like most experiences in the NBA Experience, you must first tap your magic band to scan in.
Scores are displayed on a leader board overhead.
In Dunk!, you start with a basketball and a very short hoop. You can practice your dunk as the hoop can be raised until it reaches a difficult 10 feet, ending the challenge.
In dribble, you stand in front of a camera with a basketball and are instructed to dribble the basketball. First with your dominant hand, then with your non-dominant hand, and finally alternating between the two.
The camera is supposed to track the ball movement and record your accuracy, but unless I’m truly that bad at dribbling a basketball, it doesn’t work very well.
The Champions photo allows you to tap in with your MagicBand, and the machine takes a series of three pictures of you pretending to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy, and the NBA MVP award trophy.
The photos are well-themed as a backdrop filled with confetti makes it look like you really did just win a championship, but the photos are taken quickly and there isn’t much opportunity for posing as there would be with an actual PhotoPass photographer present.
The screens in the middle also allow you to look up every NBA championship winner from any year and view statistics and highlights.
Players – Inside the Player Sanctuary
The Players’ experience is a museum-like display which feels like you’re stepping into an actual NBA locker room.
Each locker was filled with NBA memorabilia, shoes, jerseys, and other typical locker room finds.
In between each locker, there was a large touch screen which you could interact with to view current NBA team rosters, statistics, and league standings.
The Combine challenge was an experience where you could measure your wingspan, jump height, and shoot a couple of basketballs into a hoop.
It was surrounded by such a complex netting system, that I was more focused on shooting the ball over the net to avoid it bouncing right back into my face.
As you can see, I’m not very good at basketball. This experience could be a lot of fun for the basketball mega-fan, but I just don’t fit that demographic. You can check out my full review of the NBA Experience, which spans all of the sections we covered in the tour, here.
Will you be visiting the NBA Experience or skipping it entirely on your next Walt Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments!