Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Happened to Discovery Zone?

If you were a kid in the 90's chances are you remember Discovery Zone.  In case they didn't have them in your area, Discovery Zone was basically one of the most fun places your parents could take you as a kid.  They were a huge indoor play place with things to climb on, jump on, slide down, crawl through... pretty much an amazing indoor playground.  Many kids had their birthday parties there.  It was kind of like Chuck E Cheese but with more of the active stuff and not as many games.  Nowadays, they are nowhere to be found, so what happened?

According to the Wikipedia page, the company went into debt and eventually had to close and file bankruptcy.  The chain lasted about 6 or 7 years.  I was very surprised when I read this.  How could a place like this not make it?  Kids loved it and so did parents.  The kids got to have fun running around while the parents could relax and socialize with other parents and get a break from the kids. 

Did the company not make enough money?  It seems like once the initial cost of the structures and games were covered, it would be highly profitable.  You only have to have a minimal staff to run the place and keep it clean.  Then you just charge people by the hour to come in and play.  How did this not work out?

Maybe some poor financial decisions were made which led to the eventual downfall.  It also mentions on the Wiki page that many of them were taken over by Chuck E Cheese.  Now Chuck E Cheese was also a fun place, but it was not as good as Discovery Zone.  I'm surprised that no one has tried to reboot the idea and start a new indoor play place for kids to have fun.  With all the new technologies we have these days and the lessons from DZ, it seems like a great idea!

Discovery Zone Commercial - DZ Where Kids Wanna Be!

46 comments:

  1. So far the only place I've seen attempt to reboot the idea was a mega church in my area. Because the two Discovery Zones in my area were mall locations, they were left untouched by Chuck E Cheese. They purchased the old equipment, touched it up, and then turned it into the play area for something they called "Kids Zone."

    It's not exactly the same as DZ, but they still have the same intent as the original mall locations: providing children with a safe, fun, and somewhat educational place to let out their energy while their parents are doing something else. Perhaps other institutions will get the same idea and we will see the return of these types of places.

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    1. Connected IsolationMarch 25, 2014 at 8:24 AM

      I'm seeing a lot of trampoline places popping up which looks like it is kind of the same idea. There is not as much to climb on, but they are a place for kids to jump around and have fun which is kind of the same idea but with a new spin.

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    2. I heard there was a skin infevtion going around at ours in salem oregon??

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    3. There Is a place kinda like DZ by my house its called GO BANANAS

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  2. There was one where I lived growing up. Of course,it closed. I was 13 when my best friend and I discovered they never locked the front doors. The summer that ensued is legend to this day.

    We used to tell our parents we were
    Sleeping at the other's house. We fooled them and slept in dz. Everything was left in the building... Everything. All the prizes, all the tickets, all the gaming machines... And even the pop dispenser. We lived like kings that summer.

    We collected all the balls and made a ball pit over 8 ft high.

    We unlocked the roof and watched the fireworks on the 4th of July.

    We turned all the power on.

    We got locked in the walk in freezer.

    We smoked in the tubes.

    We drank the concentrated pop syrup that collected over the years. On principle.

    And we bragged to too many people. The cops arrived after about a month and locked the place. They neglected to check the roof. I ended up climbing a pipe about 5 in in diameter over two stories tall.

    And I got on that roof. And took back what was mine.

    That summer was the end of my innocence, a life before consequences.

    I am 27 now. Going through old things, I discovered the last remaining relic. It is a purple quarter dispenser. On it are two letters.

    DZ.

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    1. Connected IsolationNovember 25, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      That is awesome! Sounds like so much fun! Well written comment too. Thanks for sharing your experience with DZ!

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    2. that is the best story I have ever read.

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    3. Amazing story. What I wouldn't do to have been there with you. Cheers!

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    4. OH MY GAWD! XD That's the most amazing true story I've ever read.

      Unfortunately, I never got to experience the extreme awesomeness of Discovery Zone. However, It sounds like you experienced it to the MAX! I will forever worship you as the God of Bad Assness.

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    5. I worked for DZ as a game tech. The only place I was not only allowed to take my children to work but they actually encouraged it in my position. My children not only played but as I fixed the various games and things they were among the first to try it out. They even had little questionnaires to fill out after their visit. I had 7 stores in three states on my normal tour and a few others outside that. When they shut down I was also sadly responsible to remove equipment and close facilities. I have the pictures of my children in each location before it ended. Doing what kids do. Hell of a lot better than this constant video game crap at that age.

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    6. hey if they where to ever open it back up or someone wanted to open it back up would you be interested in going back

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    7. My kids and I loved DZ. According to Google search, there is still one in McMinnville, OR. Also there are two similar places in Vancouver, WA, Fun 'n Fitness, and Dizzy Castle.

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    8. You won the DZ Cosmic Lottery. Man.

      https://youtu.be/nYcvyIDrMbI?t=28s

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    9. I don't know why but that story made me cry 😂

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    10. Sounds really cool! I miss that place sooooo much! Would you be interested in helping me bring it back?

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    11. Ur a savage i woulda did the same DZ was the shit

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    12. Naomi ovadia. I would love to being it back. But i have no money to do so. But if i did i would reopen them all back up. I was born in 96 but i have a dreams about that place when i was little and i cant stop thinking about it. I miss the good ol days when there was actual good fun and not video games.

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    13. I heard that now there are actual people who will bring it back but 90s kids would probably not be allowed to play there anymore http://www.dzisback.com/about-us.html

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    14. I own a Rocketfizz franchise. I would love to open a discovery zone right next door to my store. I am thinking it could be cool to improve upon the original idea with good quality food and coffee etc and better seating around the playstructre and throughout. Make it better for the parents. Also better for the kids if the parents are comfortable and stay longer.it could be a good family restaurant with all the play area and possibly bridges over the eating area. It could have a shop that you go thru for penny candy etc on your way out like Farrel's did. We need more places for kids to get sweaty and have fun. Combine it with that other stuff and I think it would be a home run. We need different ideas for birthday parties. When you have young kids, you have been to the same birthday parties at the same few places too many times.

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  3. ^^^and then you woke up because that never happened lol

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  4. I left Norwegan. I landed To America, I saw DZ. I played,bounced,ate. But Once CEC
    came in. All I Remember Is A Big sing That Said....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................








    DZ Discovery Zone.






































































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  5. I've heard there were a lot of accidents there about kids playing and getting hurt. Even if lawsuits didn't lead to the Discovery Zone's debt, it might have made parents say "I'm not taking you to the Discovery Zone! I love you too much to see you get severely injured!" and if an article appeared on the news about a kid getting severely injured there or a similar place, parents would ask their kids to listen and say "Do you see why I don't want you to go there?" hence the company didn't make any money.
    I hope this will answer why nobody has ever started a new indoor play place for kids.

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    1. There are lots of indoor play places for kids. Trampoline places, indoor playgrounds, etc. Kids are going to get hurt no matter what. Parents like to blame others for not paying attention to their kids.

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    2. AMEN! I AGREE...We used to have a place here called kid's fun that was just like DZ but I remember my friend got hurt on the zip line type thing. There was some metal part exposed and she cut her head. But she went to the hospital and everything was ok. Her parent's didn't say she couldn't go after that, they just told her to be more careful and to make sure she watched where her head was. Even though technically the padding wasn't on the area the way it was supposed to be, they didn't blame Kid's Fun. But I guess something else must have happened because they closed shortly after that summer. But we had some great times there. They do have similar tunnels and things at Busch Gardens but no ball pit. I think that was one of my favorite parts. If they can do it at BG they should be able to do it indoor again. Maybe just without the zip line. But it was a great place...I miss DZ and Kids fun.

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  6. i was told that kids were peering in the ball pits and kids were getting sick bc they weren't cleaned. But anyways i do miss this place. With now a day kids I think we would have more problems than just kids peeing in the pits like; needles, drugs, weapons. Kids today are not the same as us 90's kids.Which is a shame! Anyways they do have a DZ like place for kids its Billy Beez in NY.

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    1. Lol, honestly, I can only imagine now how filthy that place really was. All the germs and bacteria from kids with pizza stained mouths and sticky soda pop hands. I doubt they had an effective way of cleaning the balls in the ball pit, they were all probably covered in snot and spit from hyper ass kids. Didn't care back then of course, but I wouldn't touch one of those balls today.

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    2. I definitely got chicken pox from there. And I can't imagine all the ringworm and shit on those mats and cubes. Gross.

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    3. eww that's f**ing disgusting, thinking back.. even mcdonalds... But there still is a place in Houston, "Fun Plex"... still around since I was a kid...

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  7. they have something like this in london ontario canada its called adventures on wonderland and it is the best place for kids birthdays also a place called kidscape kind of the same idea.

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  8. I came here because Shane Dawson mentioned it... He said kids were raped in the ball pits and there was a spider bungee jumping room... Something like that, but I can't see anything on that right now and this is my second search. Lol I search everything

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    1. OMFG ME TOO!!! I JUST WATCHED HIS VIDEO!!

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  9. Visit The City Museum in St. Louis, MO if you ever get a chance. It's fun for adults and children! Very unique. If you liked DZ you will definitely appreciate City Museum!!

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  10. Completely agree about City Museum - it's a magical place.

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  11. Tat was the place nobody could tell me it was too dangerous for a blind child to bump into stuff.

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  12. It was my 8th birthday and my dad loaded me and 4 of my friends in a van and we were going to DZ to have a great time....we got there and the place was dark, the stuff was being torn down and moving boxes were everywhere. It took everything I had to not cry in front of my friends. We went to a different place but I'll never forget that birthday disappointment.

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    1. Ow that hurt me. I went to DZ for my birthday as well when I was five. That's why I'm here, reminiscing.

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  13. I'm a 29 year old woman and if I knew of a place like DZ I'd take my kids, and most definitely play myself. I miss you DZ! Come back to meeee!!!!!!

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  14. If you're in CA there's a place like this in Carlsbad called PlayWerx. My little guy had a BLAST!

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  15. Oh yes! I remember Discovery Zone very well. I used to go to the one
    in Coral Springs in South Florida. The first time I went there, was on a school field trip when I was 5 years old. and i instantly fell in love with it (what kindergartner wouldn't). I had my 7th birthday party there. Then a classmate of mine had his birthday party there and a few years later my cousin had her 6th birthday party there. I thought DZ was the best thing since sliced bread. That roller slide was a little bumpy, but fun.
    My dad took me there a couple times and when we were in the YMCA
    Indian Guides, the meetings were sometimes held at DZ. I just loved that ball pit, but nowadays, I find ball pits to be disgusting and laden with germs...yuck! Then one day around 1996,
    I was with my aunt and cousins going to see a movie at the General
    Cinemas in the same plaza as DZ. We passed by DZ and I saw a man locking the door. I was like, "Gee, aren't they closing kind of early?". Then I did a double take and noticed everything had been
    cleaned out. Not a single ball pit, slide, or tube to be found anywhere (the business hours were still on the door)...I was like "Oh god, Noooo!". The man was talking to two other people (either the DZ management or the next tenants)as he was locking up the sad empty shell of the now departed Discovery Zone. This occurred obviously around the chain's 1996 bankruptcy.

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  16. There is a play zone near me I have taken my nephews too. It is tons of fun but it will never be discovery zone. Ball pits, zip lines, foam blocks, junk food, the climbing ropes. the 90's!!!

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  17. I remember we had one in Puerto Rico, I used to go a lot but my life gave a turn at the age of five, and I moved away from where it was. When I came back around my seven years, I was surprised it was closing too. Back then I didn't have internet, nor the idea of how to use it, but now, I have the knowledge, got the enthusiasm, and the will to bring it back, with a little Surprise add on ^_^. it wont be called Discovery Zone, but it will be based on it. Awesome story, read all the comments too ^_^

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  18. Those balls were gross dirty daipers were constantly being found in them. Thats why most of the mcdonalds playplaces got rid of them.

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  19. I was about 7 when the one near me closed down. My mom took my sisters and I to lunch at apple bees a few days before school started. Across from where we were sitting, we noticed what was left of discovery zone. A big blue cube with a big yellow rubber duck on top of it was still left in the building. At the time, I was so sad and shocked that discovery zone was gone. I remembered having so much fun at the birthday parties I was invited to at discovery zone when the place opened. I will do anything to go back in time and relive those moments of my childhood.

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  20. As a parent, I remember taking my son to DZ every Friday after school. At the time I was pursuing a Masters degree and I appreciated having a safe place for him to play while I studied (thank God for the "parent room"). As I mentioned before, we were there every Friday, so much so that the staff knew us by name and they would come to me in the parent room and say, "He's hungry, should we prepare the usual" Many years later I still acknowledge
    DZ among those who helped me obtain my degree. My son loved it too; he had several birthday parties there. Now I am a grandmother and although there several similar children's play places, none can compare to DZ

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  21. Back in Peoria, IL we had two places: Absolute Fun and Discovery Zone (as well as Chuck E Cheese). Absolute Fun and DZ were virtually identical but each had it's own vibe and flavor. Absolute Fun was a little more rundown, but had an extra area where kids could come and dress up in costume and hang out. It even had a little stage. DZ was more modern and probably had "better" design. I got my first kiss in the tube at Absolute Fun (I think) on a class field trip right above the ball pit.

    Chuck E Cheese then took out a bunch of the games and added their own jungle gym setup, so I really was spoiled rotten.

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