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Discovery Zone was a chain of entertainment facilities featuring games and elaborate indoor mazes designed for young children, including slides, climbing play structures and ball pits. The chain was founded by Ronald Matsch, Jim Jorgensen and Dr. David Schoenstadt in 1989. The first location was opened in Lenexa, Kansas, in January 1990. An early investor and vocal supporter of the company was tennis player Billie Jean King.[1]

Other places similar to Discovery Zone included Chuck E. Cheese's, Major Magic's, The Jungle: Fun and Adventure, Planet Play, and Wonder Camp (a chain that closed in 1997). McDonald's started a similar chain called Leaps and Bounds that merged into Discovery Zone in 1994.

Their mascot was a robot named Z-Bop.

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 parent Viacom.


Stretched thin by expansion, changes in management tried to save the company. However, Discovery Zone filed for bankruptcy on March 26, 1996 in Wilmington, Delaware with debts of up to $366.8 million.[2] By the end of 1999, Chuck E. Cheese's acquired approximately fifteen of DZ's locations for conversion into their concept while the rest were either closed down or converted to independent concepts.


  1. ^ Anderson, Susan (January 23, 1991). "Chronicle". New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  2. ^ Mills, Joshua (March 31, 1996). "Diary". New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
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