Florida Travel

DisneyQuest closing at Downtown Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold is an interactive game at DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold is an interactive game at DisneyQuest in Downtown Disney. Walt Disney Resorts

Out with virtual reality, in with basketball hoops: DisneyQuest will close next year to make way for an NBA-themed attraction.

The five-story center with video and virtual games opened in 1998 at the entertainment district’s West Side. The building is a landmark at Downtown Disney, which is undergoing an expansion.

DisneyQuest’s attractions include CyberSpace Mountain, a a design-your-own-roller-coaster motion-simulator ride; Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam, a life-sized game in which players stand on a joystick that controls cartoon characters on a screen; and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Buccaneer Gold, in which players are the crew of a ship that destroys other ships, sea monsters, and fortresses. DisneyQuest has more traditional video games too.

It appears DisneyQuest — once planned to be a worldwide chain of 20 virtual-reality centers — fell victim to changing technological times. In an era of smartphone apps, lifelike video games and other interactive attractions, DisneyQuest started to appear dated to many people.

Chris Fouche, 37, of Orlando remembers being “blown away” when it first opened. When he took his 5-year-old daughter last year, though, “wow” quickly morphed into “meh.”

“Now it seems really stupid and really cheesy. I have more power in my phone than in that whole building,” he said. “But back then, it was a trip.”

“I think they were getting down to fix it up or get rid of it,” said Matt Roseboom, editor and publisher of Attractions Magazine. “I think it would have been a huge investment to really do it right just because all those games would need an overhaul or new games brought in.”

The experience is not cheap. One-day tickets cost $47.93 for adults and $41.54 for children.

Visits to DisneyQuest are included in Walt Disney World’s premiere passes. The company did not have details about whether it will substitute any other experiences in the premiere passes once DisneyQuest closes.

The Orlando location had a longer run than others Walt Disney Co. tried building. One in Chicago closed shortly after opening because it didn’t live up to the company’s expected returns. Plans for another in Philadelphia fell through amid financing problems for a proposed urban entertainment center there.

The NBA Experience at Downtown Disney will include high-tech experiences, a restaurant and a store.

“It seems like a perfect fit for that kind of restaurant and entertainment center,” Roseboom said of the building. “Just the size of it. There’s lots of areas in DisneyQuest where you can look over and see down. I can just picture basketball games there people can play on and things like that.”