Walt Disney World is a great place to visit, full of fun and excitement for the whole family. The problem is, getting there often requires individuals to travel hundreds or thousands of miles.
What if Disney were able to bring a smaller version of the Disney experience to you, without having to travel great distances? That was the idea behind DisneyQuest.
Dubbed a “virtual theme park,” DisneyQuest was designed as an urban Disney experience that leveraged virtual reality to mimic many Disney experiences in downtown entertainment centers.
Disney opened two pilot Disney Quest locations: one in Chicago and one in Disney World’s Downtown Disney center. However, very few know about the third planned location: Philadelphia.
Historically, the 8th and Market intersection was known for serving as Philadelphia’s department store center, housing flagship locations of Strawbridge’s, Lit Brothers, and Gimbels. Over time, markets shifted and a large portion of the massive Gimbels store was demolished, making way for a surface parking lot spanning the majority of the South 800 Market Street block.
Seeing such a large plot of land at an ideal location, Disney was ready to invest!
Hoping to bolster the city’s tourism market, the city offered funds for the project’s development. First step: dig up the parking lot for the foundation.
As the Philadelphia project began, Disney started realizing less-than-desirable numbers from their Chicago test location. Amid weaker demand, Disney stated a desire to abandon the Philadelphia location. In response, Philadelphia offered Disney additional funds and the hole was literally dug deeper.
It wouldn’t last long, though.
Disney officially canceled the project, leaving a gaping hole adjacent to what was once one of Philadelphia’s prominent intersections.
The city paid to have the hole filled in and returned to none other than a surface parking lot, but not without having first spent millions of taxpayer dollars sunk into the aptly-named “Disney Hole.”