for short) 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 store was opened in Lenexa, Kansas
in January 1990. 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, The Jungle, and Wonder Camp (a chain which closed in 1997). McDonald's started a similar chain called Leaps and Bounds which merged into Discovery Zone in 1994.
In the 1990s, one of its jingles went like this: "DZ, Discovery Zone, I can do anything on my own! I can jump, swing, crawl or mountain climb. I'm going DZ, where I want to be!". This was sung by children.
IPO and Merger
Discovery Zone completed a successful IPO in June 1993 (led by Chris Bellios) and Ian Kitchens 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 (under Viacom's control) Discovery Zone filed for bankruptcy on March 26
in Wilmington, Delaware
with debts of up to $366.2 million
. Chuck E. Cheese's
purchased approximately 500 of DZ's locations and turned them into Chuck E. Cheese's facilities by the end of 1999.