If you've ever wanted to live out some professional basketball dreams, Disney Springs has a fun new way for you to do just that: the NBA Experience.
Located in the section of Disney Springs called the West Side, this new entertainment offering gives fans of all ages the opportunity to test out their b-ball skills.
And when we say "fans of all ages" we even mean forty (cough cough) something-year-old women who are in no way basketball players.
Here's how it went (and what we learned)...
Cost & location
First of all, let it be known that we are excited to see more entertainment offerings making their way to Disney Springs.
We love Disney Springs for dining and shopping, but we also love the idea of Disney Springs having more non-shopping options available for guests.
The introduction of the NBA Experience is a nice addition, and while the theme may not appeal to everybody, it could be a good non-park option for some.
If you are visiting the NBA Experience you have 2 different ways to get tickets:
Paying out-of-pocket OR as a feature of a Park Hopper Plus or Water Parks and Sports ticket.
NBA Experience Ticket Prices (out-of-pocket):
The cost to visit the NBA Experience isn't cheap:
One important thing to note, however, is that your ticket is good for the entire day.
Because of that, we recommend that you go on a day where you can get your fill of all the different activities you can find inside.
Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time and linked to your My Disney Experience account OR you can buy them when you arrive.
Park Hopper Plus and Water Parks and Sports:
If so, a visit to the NBA Experience is included with those.
While all ages are allowed, you can see by the images below that super young kids might get frustrated with some of the activities.
You don't have to be a basketball expert (we clearly aren't) but we don't think that the NBA Experience would be much fun for little ones that don't understand the games.
The NBA Experience is located in the West Side section of Disney Springs, a free shopping and entertainment district in the Walt Disney World Resort area.
This is the same area of Disney Springs where you find the theater for Cirque du Soleil and Splitsville (bowling alley) as well as the AMC Disney Springs 24 Movie Theater.
The main bus loop for Disney Resort buses is a short walk away, but for an even faster arrival, you can take a Lyft, Uber, or Taxi:
What to expect when you visit
When you arrive, you'll notice that the first floor is primarily a shop (filled to the rim with WNBA and NBA stuff like apparel, hats, basketballs), a ticket counter, and a few activities.
Because you'll have the option to participate in lots of different drills and games, everybody must sign a waiver before they can go inside.
Note: all of the activities are no-contact; you're just shooting basketballs, dribbling, etc. - all solo. You're never actually playing a game of basketball, but rather doing organized activities based around individual basketball skills.
After you get checked in, you'll have the opportunity to create your profile (basically you choose a name from a list of options as well as a favorite pro basketball team).
This profile is what you you'll see up on the screens (instead of your real name).
You'll have quite a few different activities to choose from, and you're allowed to do them as many times as you want.
This isn't a free-for-all where a bunch of people are trying to do the same thing at once.
Instead, it is a very organized experience where you're assigned a spot (so no fighting for space or worrying about knocking people down with a bad shot).
We really liked this setup because it was less intimidating and kept smaller fans from being overwhelmed by bigger kids and adults.
Here's a brief description of all the activities you'll find:
If you've ever wanted to slam one down like Michael Jordan but found yourself vertically challenged, this is your chance.
With an adjustable rim, even those of us that round up to put that 5'3" on our drivers license (and hit the court in sandals) can look like a star.
This activity was a lot like a solo game of Around the World. With a clock counting down, you'll have the opportunity to try to land a series of baskets before time runs out.
After first indicating your skill level you'll be coached through a series of skills geared towards gauging your ability to dribble the ball.
This activity was probably one of the most fun. Instead of using "traditional" basketball skills, this one is more of an arcade-style game where you launch foam balls towards baskets.
In this spot you'll find all your favorite basketball-themed arcade games. From the classic "shoot as many baskets as you can before time runs out" machines to video games like NBA 2K, this is where you'll go for all your arcade favorites.
Like the real Combine the athletes go through, here you test your skills in a series of Combine drills, complete with real-time feedback on your performance.
Prefer to stretch your mind rather than your hamstrings?
Then head over to Trivia where you can "get your head in the game" as you test your knowledge of the NBA and all of its leages.
Champions - That Winning Feeling
Browse some of the rich history of the NBA and WNBA in the Hall of Champions.
Replay - Be the Ref
If you've ever found yourself yelling at a replay call, now is your chance to show those refs how it is done.
Here guests watch a series of videos (complete with multiple camera angles) to determine if the calls made on the court were right (or if they deserve to be overturned).
After all the dunking and dribbling you may be ready for a break, and the theaters are a great spot for that.
In 2 custom-made theaters, guests visiting the NBA Experience can see short films that draw you in and get you even further connected to the game.
In addition to all the activities, there are also a couple of photo ops. All of the pictures can be connected to your PhotoPass account and are included if you have Memory Maker.
Instead of photographers, though, these photo ops all utilize the camera boxes you see in some of character greet locations in the parks.
- Draft - Live out your dream of being the #1 draft pic
- Trophy Moments - Hoist that trophy high in the air and smile for the camera!
Is it worth it?
Maybe. If you're are a huge sports fan and you're looking for something different to do on a non-park day, you may think the price is worth it.
For comparison, here's how it stacks up against a couple other activities you can find around Walt Disney World (all prices shown below are without tax):
Price estimates for 2 adults and 2 kids:
NBA Experience ($34/adult, $29/child)
- Cost for adults: $64
- Cost for kids: $58
- Total cost: $126
- Total hour(s) allowed for activity: All day pass
Splitsville ($18/bowler before 4 p.m.)
- Cost for adults: $36
- Cost for kids: $36
- Total cost: $72
- Total hour(s) allowed for activity: 1 hour and 15 minutes
AMC Disney Springs (average of about $7/person for a matinee)
- Cost for adults: $14
- Cost for kids: $14
- Total cost: $28
- Total hour(s) for activity: 2-3 (length of a movie)
Winter Summerland Minature Golf ($14/adult, $12 child)
- Cost for adults: $28
- Cost for kids: $24
- Total cost: $52
- Total hour(s) for activity: You can take as long as you need, but most games last around 1 hour
So, while the cost for the NBA Experience is a lot more than the cost for other activities, the big difference is your ticket there is good for the entire day - you can play as long as you like.
Most other activities outside the parks (like miniature golf or the movies) aren't an "all day" kind of thing.
So, while the cost is way less if you decide to do one of those, your time is limited.
On our first visit to the NBA Experience, we were done doing most all the activities once (and a couple of them twice) in about an hour.
We didn't really have to wait long in any lines (just a couple minutes at most) so that definitely helped speed things up, and, typically, only one of us did the activities; if everybody in your group opts to participate it would take longer.
We could have spent more time (and to be honest, the Slingshot activity was a lot of fun!) but it just wasn't our vibe.
We did, however, see several families who were doing their favorite activities over and over again, so if you're the kind of crew that enjoys testing your skills, you just may find that hefty price tag to be well worth it.