There is so much happening around Walt Disney World in Central Florida these days! We’ve seen new restaurants, new resorts and new methods of transportation open and now we look forward to seeing new attractions in the coming months and years. One of the more recent additions to the property is the opening of the NBA Experience at Disney Springs. Ballers are psyched ~ and that includes MY boys! So, since we had them all home for the holidays, we decided that their annual “experience gift” this year would be a trip over to Disney Springs. Two days after Christmas, the five of us hopped into the car and headed over to check what the NBA Experience was all about!
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The Gift of an Experience
I love gifting a good experience ~ something that creates a memory that lasts longer than most tangible items ever will. Hubby and I started doing this for the boys at Christmas some time ago and it has been a great way to add to our holidays together. This year, I heard my oldest talking about how much he would love to check out the NBA Experience while he was home on break. He has been our sports fanatic for as long as I can remember, so I wasn’t surprised that this would be somewhere on his bucket list. Of course, the other two were interested, as well, so it was a no-brainer when it came to selecting this as family outing.
The NBA Experience at Disney Springs
For those of you unfamiliar with the NBA Experience, it’s an opportunity for basketball fans visiting Walt Disney World to mix the magic of Disney with the excitement of the NBA! Inside the brand new two story building that stands on the West Side of Disney Springs (where Disney Quest once stood), Guests have the chance to spend hours testing their skills and knowledge, snapping some photo memories and learning a thing or ten about their favorite players and teams.
How to Get Tickets
Tickets for the NBA experience are available online, at the door or even in person before your planned visit. The cost of tickets at the time of this piece is $34 per person ages 10 and up and $29 for those ages 3-9. The purchased tickets must be used within a certain period of time, but it’s actually longer than you would think.
Hubby and I chose to purchase our tickets for the family just before Christmas and in person. We just happened to be out Christmas shopping at Disney Springs. In fact, I’m glad we did because we were able to ask about various discounts they may offer, such as Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club (DVC). We were able to take advantage of our DVC membership and knock off $14 from EACH TICKET!!!
That’s a $70 savings (that’s a whole lot of Dole Whips ~ better yet, almost two people FREE!).
Inside the venue, there are a variety of ways and opportunities to experience the thrill of basketball. Through photo opps, skill games, trivia and movies, you can create your own unique memory with your family.
For us, we made a good day of it at Disney Springs. We arrived early to catch a movie first at the Disney AMC theaters (have you read my review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?) and then grab lunch over at Splitsville (they have always done a good job at accommodating our son’s food allergies). From there, we made our way over to the ginormous building that sits at the corner of West Side, across from where Cirque du Soleil will open once again this spring.
The first thing we had to do when we entered was sign waivers. Hubby, our oldest and I had to sign for ourselves and then I had to add the younger two boys’ names to mine (under the age of 18). It’s pretty much your basic injury waiver, making sure that you understand the risks of the physical activity in which you’re about to participate.
So, we signed our lives away (just kidding) and walked through the tunnel and onto the round court that welcomes you with the sound of a roaring crowd. We took a moment or two to just look around and familiarize ourselves with our surroundings before making a decision where to go first.
So What Did We Do First?
With two floors to explore, we knew we would be there for awhile. It was quite the popular place to be that day, too, and some of the lines seemed to be lengthy. However, they had a pretty good system in place and people were fairly considerate when it came to enjoying their time and then moving on.
In total, there are about 13 unique experiences. Nearly every activity is housed in its own room and has its own queue. On the bottom floor, there are photo opps, a “locker room” full of facts, a chance to see how you measure up and two stand-up movie theaters.
There is also Combine experience, where your wingspan and vertical leap are measured and you get to see how you measure up to athletes in the NBA and WNBA. This was our first activity together – oh, my gosh! What a blast!
While downstairs, we also took the time to place our hands in the imprints of some pretty famous players, see how well Aaryn measured up to the Orlando Magic’s Mohamed Bamba and watch an inspirational film on practice, perseverance, dreams and achievement.
And just in case you thought that wasn’t enough, it was…
Let’s Head Upstairs
This is where a LOT of the action took place! We spent quite a bit of time up here testing our skills and knowledge, competing playfully against each other. Some of the activities we enjoyed included:
This is an activity where we were able to demonstrate the extent of our dunking skills. Oh, my goodness, did the boys enjoy this one! It was a timed activity and fortunately we were able to adjust the height of the backboard.
This one was a lot of fun for ALL of us!! We had quite a few good laughs at each other as we took control of the ball and let the coach on the screen take us through various drills to assess our basketball-handling skills. What was extra fun for this one was that this particular challenge is designed for a wide range of ages and skill levels—from novice to expert. Once you complete one level, you can advance to the next.
Talk about a party!!! This took focus, speed and great aim!!! In Slingshot, the goal is to shoot the ball into / through hoops set at varying heights. An interesting tidbit is that, as the game progressed, we noticed that the scoring seemed to change!
Not sure how accurate it was, but I actually came out having scored 30 points!!!! (Nobody believed I did that on my own…ahem ~ they were probably right).
In this room, the five of us joined about twenty or so other gamers in a game of wit. We each had our own station and screen where we would answer questions that were presented to us there AND on the big screen at the front of the room. This is another one of those timed activities and the questions range in their level of difficulty.
Ummm…..let’s just say I did ooookay for a mom who doesn’t watch basketball too often. I definitely did not do as well as the boys.
This room is tucked away and is designed to be where the officials call the shots. Just like with Trivia, this activity is designed for multiple “officials” to sit down and play. For the few minutes you’re in the room, the entire group as a whole are given a handful of opportunities to review various calls and decide whether or not it should stand or the call be adjusted.
Want to test your skills against the clock or even take some time to work in the digital arena for a few? In the arcade area on the top floor, Guests have the opportunity to test their hand-eye coordination at a variety of arcade games. The boys took some time to compete against each other here and
The games included in this section of the venue include:
- B-Ball Games Up-Close and Personal: Here, the goal is to beat the clock with the perfect shot. It’s the perfect place to put your basketball skills to the test in this spin on classic basketball arcade games.
- Classic Basketball Arcade Games: It doesn’t matter how old you are to enjoy this one! Take a spin at this series of arcade games that has hoops that are static and those that move from side to side.
- NBA 2K, NBA Live and NBA Playgrounds: Where are the digital gamers? This is where you can test your skills in the digital arena with the latest immersive video games of the NBA. You have to check this out because the games feature some pretty popular venues!
The One We Didn’t Do
Yup – while we spent hours there enjoying the venue, there was one activity in which the boys did not participate. Shoot! had a very, very lengthy line and the boys were tired by the time we reached that one. Here, the goal is to live out your basketball dreams by stepping onto the court and carryout a sequence of guided shots. What’s unique about this innovative experience is the virtual crowd that cheers you on as you aim to make the game-winning basket!
In retrospect, we regret not doing this one….don’t be like us.
Don’t Forget to Capture the Moment!
As noted above, there are several photo opportunities downstairs and I believe some upstairs, as well. To be honest, we couldn’t figure out how to capture them outside of using my own personal camera. However, none of us had our Magic Bands with us either. I did capture a good deal of my own, though.
Needless to say, there are several memories to make and capture during a visit to the NBA Experience. You do not want to miss out on a single second of excitement!!
The boys said they had a blast! It was a great way to spend the afternoon together as a family. We kept ourselves active and found many moments to laugh at each other, as well as cheer for each other. There was a little friendly competition and TONS of hilarious memories to cherish.
If you’re heading to Walt Disney World anytime soon, do you plan to spend some time at Disney Springs? Give some thought to spending some time at The NBA Experience. You can purchase your tickets early, check in when it opens, spend a few hours, head out for lunch and then head back for a little more fun together.
Things to know:
- Be sure to be dressed in the proper attire, including shoes and shirts. They do recommend athletic shoes, but we saw a variety of footwear during our visit.
- Guests under the age of 14 must be accompanied by someone older than the age of 14.
- You will be required to sign a waiver before being allowed to enter. As noted above, this is pretty much your basic injury awareness waiver.
Where to find: Disney Springs West Side
Tickets and cost: $34 ages 10 and up / $29 ages 3-9 (discounts are available, ask Cast Member for details)
Cityworks Eatery and Pour House will be opening soon as part of The NBA Experience! This will be a great place to discover classic American cuisine, choose from 90+ local and global varieties of beer on tap, and the perfect seat for game-viewing!
**No opening date has been announced as of the timing of this piece. I will provide an update when the news is shared.
For more information on the NBA Experience at Disney Springs, visit the Walt Disney World website.
ADDENDUM FOR FOOD ALLERGY FAMILIES: I’ve already been asked in private messages, so I figured I would add this addendum. For those who have contact concerns (we’ve been there), be sure to bring some hand sanitizer and wipes (as well as your epinephrine auto-injectors and antihistamines, of course). We used to bring a set of baseball gloves with us. While I don’t remember seeing food in the venue itself, tons of people are touching the items you are about to encounter. It’s good to be prepared.
We had all of these on hand ourselves and our son (who is now a teen) was very careful. This may be a little more difficult for those with Littles who have contact food allergic reactions, but it’s all about how diligent you are ready to be. We had a lot of fun and had no issues whatsoever. However, as you know, we have to remain alert to our surroundings. Have fun and stay safe!
Check out these other Disney Springs reviews and posts!
- THE VOID at Disney Springs – Our First Experience with VR
- Taking “Flight” at Disney Springs
- Vivoli il Gelato “Wheels” Out The Flavor in Disney Springs (PLUS – Food Allergy Info)
- The Edison Features Burger Of the Month in Disney Springs
- Dining With Food Allergies at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Kitchen
- Food Allergy Dining at Splitsville: Strike or Gutterball?
- Splitsville Orlando: The Perfect Gathering Place
- Morimoto Asia ~ A Bucket List Must for the Foodie in You
AMAZON PICKS FOR THE BASKETBALL / DISNEY FAN!!
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