By Dewayne BevilOrlando Sentinel
Fri., Nov. 29, 2019timer3 min. read
ORLANDO, FLA.—In honour of the tipoff of the NBA’s regular season, we revisited the NBA Experience at Disney Springs. The basketball-themed attraction opened in August with both Disney CEO Bob Iger and NBA commissioner Adam Silver on hand. For those who have been distracted by football, soccer, tennis, baseball or Rugby World Cup since then, here are five fresh takeaways from my most recent NBA Experience experience.
1. The multigenerational angle is key. Participants assign themselves a skill level, and that helps level the playing field. Parents and kids can play side-by-side, learning to dribble or to see how they would measure up for NBA scouts. In the dunk section, the rims and backboards can be lowered to increase the odds of a slam. But when dad misses that kind of shot, it is dang hysterical, especially if you’re a son in the 8- to 11-year-old range.
2.Basketball inventor James Naismith might be a little disoriented. There are some variations on the game that are fun to play or just watch, particularly the slingshot area, where folks compete whilst flinging the ball toward an arc of hoops, rubber-band style. There are also carnival-esque rows of side-by-side-by-side timed shooting and videogames. No peach baskets though.
3. You don’t have to work up a sweat to be entertained. Heck, you don’t even have to touch a basketball. The building is filled with photo ops (lifting the championship trophy, meeting the commissioner on draft day), the chance to be a replay official, trivia monitors, player info and locker paraphernalia. Wow, those are some huge shoes. There are a couple of short movies, including one that prominently incorporates downtown Orlando’s Amway Center alongside a slew of NBA players, mascots and fans from across the league. (Sidenote: The Experience is pretty good about not being All LeBron All the Time).
4. The inside story: You’re inside. As we suspected all along, NBA Experience has a strong Plan B game. My visit was during a heavy thunderstorm, but we couldn’t tell it from inside.
Same story, different verse for the trademark Florida heat (not to be confused with Miami Heat) or those days when we have both heat and rain.
Welcome to Orlando!
Come inside! The attraction is also a viable option for folks at Disney Springs who don’t want to shop or eat, but their companions do.
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5. There’s stuff for sale. Yep, there’s a gift shop on the way out, although you can browse and buy without paying NBA Experience admission. Expect apparel and other merchandise from NBA and WNBA teams.
Collectibles frequently are mysterious for me because I’m not willing to pay $3,000 U.S. for a basketball sporting the “silver signature” of Michael Jordan and I’m not sure why you’d need a downsized NBA “replica” trophy for $90. But, hey, they’re worth whatever they can get someone to pay, right?
The fine print and other notes: NBA Experience is on the West Side of Disney Springs, a.k.a. the Cirque du Soleil end. The building stands where DisneyQuest used to be. Tickets are $34 ($29 for ages 3 to 9).
Generally speaking, it opens at noon and closes at 11 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. There are no food or drinks for sale at NBA Experience, although the building eventually will house a restaurant called City Works.
Finally, NBA Experience should not be confused with NBA City, the former restaurant at Universal CityWalk.
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