By Barry Janoff
June 3, 2015: On the eve of the NBA Finals, which will be seen exclusively on ABC beginning June 4, the league said it has expanded its relationship with the Walt Disney Co. to develop “The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort,” which will be part of Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Disney is parent company to ABC and ESPN, which recently renewed their pact to broadcast NBA games through the 2024-25 season.
The NBA said that the destination would feature "hands-on activities" that puts visitors "in the middle of NBA game action." The NBA Experience will include video productions, interactive experiences, a restaurant and a retail store.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
In addition to the Orlando Magic, the NBA currently has a presence in the area with NBA City, a restaurant filled with TVs, games and a retail shot that opened in August 1999 in Universal Studios CityWalk.
“We’re thrilled to work with the NBA to take our guests inside the world of professional basketball with an extraordinary entertainment experience,” Robert Iger, chairman and CEO for Disney, said in a statement. “We’ve had a long and successful partnership with the NBA through ESPN, and we will continue to build on that foundation as we bring the Disney and NBA brands together for the first time in this exciting and innovative way.”
Disney Springs, previously known as Downtown Disney, is undergoing a major rehaul, expanding the number of shops, restaurants and other locations from 70 to some 150.
Among the other brands joining the NBA as new destinations there are Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, Uniqlo, Pandora and Ugg. The area is scheduled for completion in 2016.
“We’re thrilled to work with the NBA to take our guests inside the world of professional basketball with an extraordinary entertainment experience."
According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “We look forward to uniting the passionate, global fan bases of the NBA and our longtime partner, Disney. Working with the world’s top creator and operator of themed entertainment attractions, we can’t wait to bring the magic of Disney and the excitement of the NBA to guests from around the world.”
The Disney destination is part of the NBA's global strategy to bring its products to more consumers. The league currently operates two stores in Beijing and has plans to open more locations in China over the next several years. It is finishing work on a new NBA Store in New York, scheduled to open later this year.
“Basketball fans of all ages will be able to experience the game in a whole new way when they visit ‘The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort,’” Bob Chapek, chairman for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said in a statement. “We're excited to join the NBA in offering this unique form of family entertainment. It will be a terrific addition to the world-class lineup of shops and restaurants coming to Disney Springs.”
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