Disney announced that they will be closing most of their ESPN Zone locations, including the Washington D.C. branch, on June 16th. I frequent the ESPN Zone because, ummmm, well I'm not really sure why but I do go there, and I can't really say that I'm surprised its closing.
The business plan seemed so solid in theory, "We'll throw you in front of TVs so loud and big, you won't have to talk to your family at all for the next hour and a half. And when the kids get antsy, you can just throw them downstairs into the arcade, never to be seen again."
On paper, its flawless. But believe me, there were plenty of things wrong with that particular ESPN Zone. After the jump, fueled by dozens of visits to the Zone that left me unsatisfied, I'll share some reasons why we won't miss it.
Unlike the bartenders at ESPN Zone, I won't waste any of your time - lets get right into the list.
- The quality of the food at ESPN Zone is well-documented so I won't spend a lot of time on it here, but I will share this quote: "Never have so many paid so much and received so little." - Winston Churchill (not really)
- I love arcades, always have and hopefully always will. So I'm a huge fan of any establishment that gives a young adult like myself an excuse to play. Unfortunately, I can't stand the 9-13 year olds who normally inhabit them. I understand that technically I'm impeding on their turf, but I'm a 22-year-old that's holding a beer, they're supposed to idealize me. Nothing squashes your interest in a rousing game of air hockey like having to fight through a seemingly endless ocean of tweens to get to the table.
- The entire restaurant revolves around a giant television that you can watch while you eat. The problem is that they never have anything good on and they refuse to ever change the channel, and I'm pretty sure they spit in your food for asking. If there's a good basketball game on, they're watching hockey. You actually want to watch hockey? Well then how does collegiate softball sound? What good is the largest television in the world if there isn't anything good on?
- To me, the best attraction at ESPN Zone is a half court basketball court that is marked where some of the most famous shots in basketball history took place. Michael Jordan to win the national title in '82, Christian Laettner's shot ten years later, even grandmama's four point play makes an appearance. You can shoot from each of these places, and you get points based on the shot's difficulty. Its actually a lot of fun to do. The problem is, in all the times I've been to the Zone, I have only been able to do it once. Not because of lines or anything, because that space is always being used for a private party. Its covered with folding chairs and tables...always. That's like going to Orlando, then finding out the Magic Kingdom is busy, and you have to go to Epcot. And nobody wants to go to Epcot. Want to keep the business afloat ESPN? Maybe don't hold the big guns back.
So I'm going to miss the ESPN Zone, really I am. But I don't think I'll ever miss actually being there, just the excitement I used to have when making plans to go, in the brief moment before I remember my last experience there. I hope they get replaced by a Dave & Buster's, now THAT place has it all figured out.