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The 1989–1998 Discovery Zone Logo
|Industry||Fast food and entertainment|
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.
Discovery Zone grew quickly opening 15 stores in 18 months. In April 1993, Blockbuster Video invested $10.3 million into Discovery Zone to purchase 21% of the company. And then in June 1993, Discovery Zone raised $55 million more when it went public on NASDAQ. The stock rose 61% in the first day of trading.
Under the leadership of then CEO Don Flynn, in July 1994, Discovery Zone bought 45 Leaps and Bounds stores from McDonald's for $111 million in stock and 57 franchised stores from Blockbuster Video for $91 million in stock bringing the total stores to almost 300. At the same time, Blockbuster bought more shares of Discovery Zone giving it 50.1% of the stock.
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.
On June 30, 1999, Elmsford, New York-based Discovery Zone Inc. abruptly closed half of their 'Fun Centers' and were unable to alert those with reserved parties. 13 locations were sold to CEC Entertainment Inc, owner of Chuck E. Cheese's, who attempted to accommodate last minute party reschedulings over the following days.
The alternative logo for Discovery Zone that was used in the mid to late '90s – primarily seen on arcade tokens and former Leaps and Bounds locations. This logo was short-lived.
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- Mills, Joshua (March 31, 1996). "Diary". New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
- "Discovery Zones out". CNN.