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  1. #1

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    June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    On Sunday, June 13, 2010, I took my camera to the ESPN Zone at 43 East Ohio Street in Chicago—knowing that it would close forever two days later.

    Link to ESPN Zone at Yesterland.

    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

  2. #2

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone



    And don't forget their other failed experiment.. Mickey's Kitchen, the experimental Disney-themed restaurant that was hooked to the Disney Store in Montclair, California, and Schaumburg, IL, in 1990.


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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    You know, this really doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. These restaurants were enormous and usually in prime locations which means big $ leases. I will say that every time I ate there or caught a game and beer there it seemed packed...except for the one in Las Vegas, that one never had too many people in it. Anyway, it's a shame, they were fun. Any one know when the Anaheim location will end it's run?

  4. #4

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    Thanks, Werner! Good work!

    Disney is best at creating castle-centered theme parks. If they were different enough, the world could handle about 30 more of these, provided they were so exciting and diverse so as to entice people to visit the other parks. A unique Soarin' in each could show off the area around the park, and an "If You Had Wings" style preview center could show off the other Disney parks around the world. Also Disney would have to resist the temptation to build a second park next door--despite the success of the Tokyo Sea Park.

    Imagine all the tourist families visiting the New York City area who would love to combine a visit to the big apple with a stay at a Disney park. Ditto for London, Chicago, Madrid, Seoul, Las Vegas, etc. Adventures by Disney could even lead some of the kid-centered tours to the city.
    --Tom Sinsky

  5. #5

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Walt Disney was a master of creating magic, doing it on films first and then in a theme park. But magic cannot be an everyday thing or it ceases to be magic. The concept of bringing Disney entertainment to the local masses is just flawed. Walt had to bring his park to the large enough scale to really make an impact. When you shrink that concept to a local building or restaurant, it does not have the attraction power the larger concept did.

    I say if Disney had invested all this money it spent on DisneyQuest and ESPN zone on attractions at its North American parks, they probably would have made big money in increased attendance there.
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  6. #6

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminyCricketFan View Post
    Walt Disney was a master of creating magic, doing it on films first and then in a theme park. But magic cannot be an everyday thing or it ceases to be magic. The concept of bringing Disney entertainment to the local masses is just flawed. Walt had to bring his park to the large enough scale to really make an impact. When you shrink that concept to a local building or restaurant, it does not have the attraction power the larger concept did.

    I say if Disney had invested all this money it spent on DisneyQuest and ESPN zone on attractions at its North American parks, they probably would have made big money in increased attendance there.
    I agree. That's why I'm glad that even though they repeated the Disneyland concept around the world, they have confined the park to major global cities, so each Disneyland feels like a truly international draw.

    Although admittedly, of all the Disney Regional Entertainment concepts, this one seemed the most "foolproof". Everyone's gotta eat, right? And who doesn't love the idea of watching a game at the same time, while letting the kids occupy themselves in the arcade?

    I wonder why it failed.


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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by Sosai X View Post
    And don't forget their other failed experiment.. Mickey's Kitchen, the experimental Disney-themed restaurant that was hooked to the Disney Store in Montclair, California, and Schaumburg, IL, in 1990.
    I remember the Mickey's Kitchen restaurant Schaumburg. We ate there exactly once.

    The two locations opened in 1990 and closed in 1992.

    As far as I know, this experiment pre-dated Disney Regional Entertainment.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Disney can never be a mass produced brand, the very concept negates everything that makes Disney special and what it's known for. I always thought ABC and ESPN were a bad fit for Disney. I mean, sure ESPN brings in a lot of money and ABC grants Disney a passage into network TV living rooms (as if that's really a concern of Disney in this day and age), but it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the core Disney brand.

    There is no synergy in owning a sports-oriented cable network. You can't parlay Disney's other successes into it and vice versa. It's just a standalone company that makes Disney money. I guess as long as that cash keeps getting pumped into Disneyland and the new DCA I don't really care where it comes from. But it really doesn't make much sense for Disney to try and tie ESPN together with ANYTHING else in the Disney stable.

  9. #9

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by jcruise86 View Post
    Disney is best at creating castle-centered theme parks. If they were different enough, the world could handle about 30 more of these, provided they were so exciting and diverse so as to entice people to visit the other parks. A unique Soarin' in each could show off the area around the park, and an "If You Had Wings" style preview center could show off the other Disney parks around the world. Also Disney would have to resist the temptation to build a second park next door--despite the success of the Tokyo Sea Park.


    I disagree. You realize that Disney closed a ton of Disney Stores as soon as they got the chain back a few years ago? They wanted to bring the Disney Store back as a special destination, not just any store that you can find in any mall. If Disney ends up like Cedar Fair, with parks all over the place, none of the destinations will be special at all. I can literally walk into a Cedar Fair park and have no idea which one it is.

    Plus, the parks would get even worse because all the money would be spread around so many destinations. People think WDW isn't getting enough attention right now? Think about it if there were 10 resorts!

    Quote Originally Posted by jcruise86 View Post
    Imagine all the tourist families visiting the New York City area who would love to combine a visit to the big apple with a stay at a Disney park.
    Okay... I only want this because I live 30 minutes away from the City.
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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    As a consumer when I encounter a restaurant that has so much attention focused on being more an experience than a place just to eat I immediately assume the foods going to be mediocre. Perhaps that's an attitude shared by others that aided in the decline of this themed restaurant. For me personally, heavily themed restraunts like ESPN or The Rainforest Cafe are the type of places you dine at when on vacation and not on any kind of regular basis.
    In the end as stated earlier by another, i'm sure the overhead is what drove these places under. That looks like a rather large facility with a formidable staff to keep paid.

  11. #11

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by aduecey View Post
    In the end as stated earlier by another, i'm sure the overhead is what drove these places under. That looks like a rather large facility with a formidable staff to keep paid.
    I agree.

    On top of that, the now-closed ESPN Zones were in high-rent locations.

    At a successful traditional restaurant, people come for the food. The best restaurants are full every evening. But I imagine that business was more-or-less "feast or famine" for ESPN Zone -- with full houses during major play-off games and few customers when not much was going on. That's only a guess on my part, based on how empty it was when I was there.
    Werner Weiss
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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Quote Originally Posted by aduecey View Post
    As a consumer when I encounter a restaurant that has so much attention focused on being more an experience than a place just to eat I immediately assume the foods going to be mediocre. Perhaps that's an attitude shared by others that aided in the decline of this themed restaurant. For me personally, heavily themed restraunts like ESPN or The Rainforest Cafe are the type of places you dine at when on vacation and not on any kind of regular basis.
    I agree. The food at the ESPN Zone is decent, but way overpriced. As a big sports fan and a guy who watches ESPN at least briefly every day, I love the ESPN Zone. But then again, I only go when I'm visiting DLR about 1-3 times a year.

    In a very touristy vacation destination, like DLR, I think ESPN Zone seems like a pretty full proof idea. Go there for lunch while at Disneyland, dad gets to have a beer, watch the game and have a little bit of time to relax.

    The ESPN Club in WDW is pretty weak, IMO. After going to Anaheim's ESPN Zone first, the Club was very underwhelming.

    Another problem with ESPN Zone is the price of the games. I remember when I was a kid, my dad would give me five bucks at an arcade and I was ecstatic. That five dollars lasted a looooooooong time, and I could play any game I wanted for a quarter or 50 cents. Five dollars doesn't get you jack at the ESPN Zone.

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    Werner, enjoy all of your posts, but you misspelled Michael Jordan's name! To a sports fan, that would be like telling a Republican you really liked Robert Reagan!

    Walking in Walt's footsteps

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    The ESPN Skybox on the Disney Cruise Line was also closed some time ago. Originally located in the forward funnel of the ships, the ESPN Skybox was a smaller version of the ESPN Zone offering multiple screens to watch sporting events while at sea. The need for space for teens was greater than the needs for additional adult venues so the space was converted to clubs for teens on both ships.

  15. #15

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    Re: June 15, 2010: ESPN Zone

    I haven't been to the ESPN zone at DLR, but my friends say it's the best place to watch a big game. It sounds perfect for a sports fan on vacation who wants a break from the family fun or to watch his team in a sports-fan atmosphere. They also say it gets packed during big games.

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