When I visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World back in February, I got to sit down with some folks who work for Disney sports and talk about the complex, and also more specifically about springs training, youth sports, and how they help you from the beginning of your fundraising all the way through your stay so your trip is as easy as possible. I never had the opportunity to play sports there as a kid, but I hope one day my future kids have the opportunity to participate because well, per usual, Disney does it right!
A lot of youth sports teams come from all over the place to participate in tournaments and spring training programs. Teams have a lot of opportunities to travel to many different states and events, but the logistics can be difficult. It may seem a bit overwhelming as a coach or a parents trying to figure out where to start, but at Disney they take care of all the details for you and makes everything so simple. First let’s start with who can participate. As far as spring training goes, high school college teams may participate. (Generally in March and April). However, there are plenty of other tournaments and events geared toward club teams ages 8-18. When it comes to spring training, teams can get a leg up on the competition and take advantage of the warm Florida climate to get the team ready for their season.
For some teams travel costs can be an issue. However, there are plenty of great fundraising ideas to help you get to Florida. Disney will even give your team a Walt Disney World vacation to raffle off in order to help you earn money. There is also an ESPN magazine sales program you can take advantage of. Not to mention your team will receive a checklist about 90 and 60 days out from your arrival, making sure you are ready to go. Upon arrival, you can get information and help for your group on site at the Wide World of Sports Complex Welcome Center. They can even booking dining reservations for you. What a great way to congratulate the team on a job well done…breakfast with Mickey and the gang!
Not only are these events exciting for the athlete participating, but the whole family can get involved. In addition to all inclusive packages with discounted hotel stays and park tickets, there are also activities for siblings to take advantage of during games. (Think bean bag toss, hula hoops, etc.) Games are scheduled in such a way that teams are generally off the field by 4:00 in the afternoon so there is plenty of time to hang out with your family and explore all the other experiences Disney has to offer.
There is so much attention to detail with these events. For instance, there are professional photographers that take photos during games forpurchase. Boxed lunches or pizza can be pre ordered for the team and are brought straight to the field. There is even a convenient equipment drop off at the front of the complex, and gear will then be transported to the field. Just a few ways that Disney makes teams feel comfortable, and makes the trip an easy one.
Teams love working with the ESPN brand. Some games are even featured on ESPN3.com (where they are shown live so family members and friends around the world can watch), YouTube channels, and even Disney hotel room TV’s. Some highlights from games have even made it onto Sportscenter!
Disney is a great first traveling tournament for teams with it’s fun but competitive nature, as well as learning experiences on and off the field. Good communication is offered, and awards are given for the top teams in each division. There is typically a consolation bracket, so players have the opportunity to participate in multiple games against teams from all over (30% of teams come from outside of the United States!)
Not to mention, with summer coming up more and more youth will be participating in sports and tournaments, so teams can use this summer as an opportunity to play in central Florida. Planning for a tournament or camp doesn’t have to be stressful and an impossible task. In today’s world where everyone has a full plate efficiency and ease of planning are important. Sitting down with these wonderful Disney folks I learned that there are so many options available to cater to your teams needs and to make magical memories for athletes of all ages. I can’t wait to experience it for myself.
If you would like more information on attending a tournament or event with your child or team, please visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Contact Page.
QOTD: What is your favorite part about the way Disney runs these tournaments and trainings that you learned in my post? Or, what sport would you most like to watch at the complex?