Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Miceage 1/13 - Splitsville, IBM Think, France Bakery, SeaWorld #justforkids http://micechat.com/19661-splitsville
Enough happens in O-Town that it’s impossible for a single person to see everything, especially if trying to cram it all in on weekends. So it happens sometimes that I’m very late to the party, which is the case with this week’s topic: the Downtown Disney bowling alley, Splitsville (which opened several weeks ago). Verdict: a big thumbs up. This is a win for the outside company that built/runs it, and it’s a win for Disney in all the right ways.
Occupying the site of the former Virgin Megastore in the West End section of DtD, Splitsville sounded like a good idea when it was announced. It would surely be more of a draw that the Virgin store, which felt frankly like just a shopping experience you might find in any mall. There was nothing distinctive about it particularly. When Virgin closed, it was followed by a Princess Diana gallery that charged too much money and didn’t allow photos…and didn’t last very long. Then came the RC car Ridemakerz, which was at least interesting and different, but very much a mismatch for the cavernous space of the former Virgin store. When it moved to take up residence in the back half of another Disney shop (a much better fit), the space was ripe for a new concept, and Splitsville sounded fun.
The basic idea is retro-cool colors and designs paired with modern amenities and a busy hipster vibe. At least for right now, while interest and crowds are high, it works. There’s a hive of activity on weekend nights anyway (also true of midweek?) that makes the place seem desirable and inviting. But the layout and overall design aesthetic would probably draw folks in even if it were empty. Without getting too technical in the reasons why, let’s just say that the design works. There’s a “Vacation Kingdom” mural in one corner of the first floor, and there are few things as retro-cool as that on the entire WDW property.
This time around, I didn’t even bowl (my wife had done it earlier, though, and liked it, even though the lanes felt awfully close to each other in her view). The designs on each lane are shimmering with opalescent colors in a way that reminds me of the 1960s without actually looking 50 years old. That’s impressive. What excited me, though, was the seating for each lane. Rather than the customary chairs, they have padded bench seating around a table. Your chairs, in other words, double as a dining table. Love it! It’s like they merged an Applebee’s and a bowling lane, and the marriage was made in heaven. That puts the emphasis on the food.
Read more at MiceAge: http://micechat.com/19661-splitsville
Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.