Full Disclosure, the only thing I knew about the NBA before last Friday was a handful of famous players (mostly because I follow their wives on Instagram) and the various sneaker lines those famous players sell. Not to completely discredit myself on the sport of basketball- I do know a little more about college basketball, having grown up in the state that at one point housed the country’s best men and women collegiate teams in the country- Connecticut (2004 and 2014 were good years), my knowledge of the game itself is that of a typical female who cheered on the sidelines in high school, as opposed to dribbling a basketball on the court.
When the NBA Experience opened at Disney Springs in the Summer of 2019 (in my opinion, completely overshadowed by all things Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge), it left me feeling a little perplexed. I wasn’t sure how something like the NBA Experience ended up at Walt Disney World. What I came to find out was that I completely underestimated how unique and fun the experience would be. With so many new things happening at Disney World, the NBA Experience fell to the bottom of my must-do list- which ultimately, was a mistake. It should have been at the top, all along.
According to Sal LaRocca, the NBA’s president of global partnerships, the NBA and Disney first began discussing the venue when the league last renewed its TV rights deal with Disney. The renewal, which covers Disney’s ESPN and ABC networks, was finalized in 2014 and runs through 2024-2025. Because of this deal between the two titans, it allowed for a conversation to take place of building what would be the NBA Experience. The opening of the NBA Experience was so significant to the two brands, that Disney CEO, Bob Iger was joined by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and they both welcomed everyone to the new interactive experience from the moment it opened.
Now that you’ve brushed up on the history of it all, let’s get into the details. Keep in mind, this is from the perspective of someone who lives and breathes all things Disney, but not so much the NBA.
Location and Admission
The NBA Experience is located in the West Side section of Disney Springs. It sits on the former site of Disney Quest, directly across from Jaleo Restaurant and next to Cirque Du Soleil. It’s also joined to the recently open, City Works Eatery and Pour House.
The Disney Springs NBA Experience price allows admission for one day. You may leave and return at any point throughout the day. The cost of admission is $34 for an adult (ages 10 and up) and $29 for children (ages 3-9). If you have small children and are wondering if they would enjoy it, I can confidently say that my 5 and 6-year-old would be totally immersed in almost everything the NBA Experience has to offer. I could see our family spending at least 3-4 hours there. Walt Disney World Annual Passholders also get a discount. When you purchase tickets online, or via a Disney travel agent, they can be linked to your My Disney Experience account.
It should be noted that now through March 31, 2020- Walt Disney World Annual Passholders can receive a discount. The discounted tickets are $19 for adults and $14 for children. Passholders can also get tickets at that special price for up to 3 guests.
The admission price also includes Disney PhotoPass, and there are several photo opportunities inside. All your photos and stats are added to your My Disney Experience. Fun together as a family, while getting a break from the parks, and I get pictures on top of it- does it get any better than that?
Live Out Your Hoop Fantasies
The venue is inspired by modern-day NBA arenas and the fun begins from the moment you first step in as you’re welcomed by the roar of an excited crowd as you pass through the Player Entry Tunnel. The magic of Disney and the competitiveness of the NBA are merged together and guests can enjoy 13 unique experiences within the venue.
You’ll embark on a day of fun and excitement, delivering experiences that are unlike any other in the world. From training to competitions to championships and beyond, you’ll be so immersed in it all that it will instantly make anyone a fan of the NBA. Trust me, I speak from experience.
My two favorite experiences were “Dunk” and “Slingshot.” I don’t care who you are, or how old you are, we’ve all dreamed of dunking a basketball. At “Dunk,” guests are given the chance to have their personal court, where you have the unique opportunity to lower the hoop to a level of your choice. As the clock ticks, you have several chances to dunk a basketball several times and become the all-star that you are! Another bonus is that your photo is being captured during every dunk, and because it’s included int he price of admission, it almost instantly appears on your My Disney Experience account.
“Slingshot,” is a fun and surprisingly ,competitive challenge. The Cast Member who greeted me when I approached the area it’s in said it best: “Slingshot truly is unlike any other game the sport of basketball has ever seen.” Using a large slingshot, you’ll try to shoot the ball through hoops set at varying heights. Several other guest play along with you, which really ups the competitive nature of the game. I was shocked at how my inner competitor came out, but that’s the fun of it all and part of being completely immersed in something you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do.
For more information on all the experiences offered at the NBA Experience, click here.
The Million Dollar Question: Is it worth it?
I might be a Disney Blogger, but that doesn’t make me immune to the fact that most families save and plan for years to make their dream of a Walt Disney World vacation come true. Even when I’m there with my family, which is a lot considering we’re Annual Passholders, we’re still on a budget. I don’t take recommending experiences, especially ones that require an extra ticket, lightly. That being said,
Yes- the NBA Experience is completely worth the price of admission.
The NBA Experience is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the parks, and a great way to utilize your time on vacation while experiencing the best of Walt Disney World has to offer (Which you’ll soon find out us much more than just 4 theme parks and 2 water parks). The word “immersive,” tends to be over-used these days but this is a prime example of when it should be used. The NBA Experience is a completely immersive place where your dreams of being an NBA player are just a pass, dribble, and lay-up away.
The Disney Mom in me loves it because, once again, the Walt Disney Company does what they do best- create unique experiences that families can experience together. Who wants to pay for a vacation where as a parent, you spend half your time waiting for your spouse to ride so that you can then ride, making sure someone is always staying with the child (or children) who can’t ride. Where’s the magic in that? The NBA Experience delivers on all levels, allowing adults to have fun while playing alongside their children and creating memories that will be sure to last a lifetime.
Another thing, and perhaps the most important, the NBA Experience is a completely inclusive environment that celebrates the women of the WNBA, just as much as the men of the NBA. So to all the little princesses out there who will be visiting the NBA Experience, this is a place where you can also “Dream Big, Princess.”
If you’re planning your next Disney vacation, I strongly suggest finding a way to work the NBA Experience into your plans. You don’t have to be a fan of the NBA, or even sports in general, to have fun and appreciate everything the NBA Experience has to offer. Don’t make the mistake I did, make this one of your Disney must-do’s and experience it as soon as you can. The NBA Experience is a slam dunk for kids and kids at heart, alike.
Check out the video below of my time at the NBA Experience.