It was a different kind of Disney celebration Monday morning at Disney Springs for the grand opening of NBA Experience. Amid cheering fans and celebrity guests, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger unveiled the first-of-its-kind destination, joined onstage by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and several current and former NBA and WNBA players.
"NBA Experience lets everybody who loves the game, live it," said Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "We're excited to open the doors to a fun and unique experience for fans of all ages."
Those in attendance Monday were treated to a buoyant atmosphere reminiscent of a basketball arena, complete with a DJ, T-shirt tosses, fan-cam and a dance performance, hosted by ESPN personality Rachel Nichols. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse cheered as confetti rained down toward the end of the ceremonial opening, which featured Naismith Basketball Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Grant Hill, along with NBA legend Dwyane Wade, Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley, Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem and WNBA legend Swin Cash, now the vice president of basketball operations and team development for the New Orleans Pelicans.
"I want to thank Bob Iger and the Walt Disney Imagineering team for capturing the authentic NBA experience at this landmark destination at Disney Springs," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "Disney creates memorable experiences better than anyone, and we are thrilled to share the excitement of NBA basketball with fans and Walt Disney World guests from around the world."
In collaboration with the NBA, Walt Disney Imagineering developed NBA Experience as an immersive, interactive venue. The high-energy environment is packed with 13 different basketball-related activities across 44,000 square feet and two floors.
Upon entry, guests feel as if they're walking through the players' tunnel at an NBA or WNBA arena. Visitors can experience what it's like to be selected in the NBA Draft and step onto the court to make clutch shots and highlight-worthy slam dunks. NBA Experience also provides ample opportunities to learn more about the NBA and WNBA via interactive displays, films and trivia. The unique destination offers something for guests of all ages.
A ticket to NBA Experience grants access to every activity, in any order guests choose, and they can return to stations throughout the day to improve performance or learn even more about the game, players and teams they love. They can also customize many of their experiences to showcase their favorite NBA or WNBA teams. The adjacent NBA Store offers official NBA apparel, collectibles and more, along with Disney products designed specifically for NBA Experience.
NBA Experience is the latest collaboration between Walt Disney World Resort and the NBA. The day before the NBA Experience grand opening, the second annual Jr. NBA Global Championship concluded at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, which featured the top 13- and 14-year-old youth boys and girls basketball teams from around the world. Walt Disney World Resort also has a long-standing relationship with the Orlando Magic and the NBA.