The 1989-1998 Discovery Zone Logo
|Industry||Fast food and entertainment|
|Successor||Chuck E. Cheese's|
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Dr. David Schoenstadt
|Headquarters||Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.|
|Products||Family entertainment centers|
Discovery Zone (DZ) was a chain of entertainment facilities featuring games and elaborate indoor mazes designed for young children, including roller slides, climbing play structures and ball pits. It also featured arcade games. The chain was founded by Ronald Matsch, Jim Jorgensen and Dr. David Schoenstadt in 1989. The first location was opened in Kansas City, Missouri in October 1989. An early investor and vocal supporter of the company was tennis player Billie Jean King.
Other places similar to Discovery Zone include Chuck E. Cheese's, Major Magic's (closed), The Jungle: Fun and Adventure, Planet Play, Time In, and Wonder Camp (closed). McDonald's started a similar chain called Leaps and Bounds that merged into Discovery Zone in 1994.
IPO and merger
Discovery Zone completed a successful IPO in June 1993 (led by Chris Bellios, Sam Jeremenko and Steven Noe) raising over $50 million. In 1994, Discovery Zone merged its operations with Blockbuster Video and its (now former) parent Viacom. Sumner Redstone managed to shift the assets to Blockbuster and move operations to Chicago. He told numerous college students at the 1995 annual meeting how "solid" an investment this would be. Discovery Zone filed for bankruptcy shortly after.
Stretched thin by expansion, changes in management tried to save the company; however, Discovery Zone filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 26, 1996 in Wilmington, Delaware with debts of up to $366.8 million.
By the end of 1999, CEC Entertainment had purchased approximately 500 of DZ's locations and turned many of them into Chuck E. Cheese's facilities while shutting down the rest.