Toy Story Land Disney World with a Preschooler

Disclosure: We attended a #DisneyKids media event at Toy Story land Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

Disney's toy story land with a preschooler

When I first heard that Walt Disney World was creating Toy Story Land, I was pumped. Not only would I get to experience the nostalgia of a favorite movie series I grew up with, but I just couldn’t wait to see what Disney was going to DO with it. You know, how they always go above and beyond with every little detail? Well, I can tell you that it does not disappoint, and it was amazing getting to experience Toy Story land with a preschooler who loves the films as much as I do.

Pro tip: Go early before the crowds so you can see all the fun details!

Life-size characters, bright colors, and an amazing “backyard” to explore as one of Andy’s toys. It’s so exciting as you turn the corner and see Woody waiting to tip his hat and greet you as you enter the land. My four year old LOVED all the fun “toy”, details, and seeing her favorites everywhere she turned.

Toy Story Land with a Preschooler

Pro tip: The sun is blinding at this photopass spot, so maybe come back later in the day for a pic!

There are tons more “toy-sized” characters to discover, including meet and greets with some of the stars. Emma Kate even found fun characters to pose with as we waited for our breakfast at the new quick service dining location. This dining location, Woody’s Lunchbox, has some great food options not found at other locations.

Pro tip: Woody’s Lunchbox has breakfast! We had a delicious yogurt parfait that hit the spot!

Of course, We loved taking photos in front of several of the famous “walls.”

Related: The Walls of Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land with a Preschooler

Emma Kate was a little scared to ride Slinky Dog Dash (her mom and dad loved it!) But she ADORES Alien Swirling Saucers and it is her new favorite Disney ride. She also still has a huge love for Toy Story Mania. I can’t blame her, I do too! Even the exit queue of Toy Story Mania is a blast

Pro Tip: The exit queue is also where two of the fun walls are located as well.

Adding Toy Story Land  Disney World to Hollywood Studios is a huge plus in our book. We already love the fun and shows at this park, (not to mention character breakfast at Hollywood and Vine), so now it’s even more valuable to us as a family with a small child. One thing we have yet to do is go at night. I guess we need to make another trip back!

Toy Story Land Disney World

Disney’s Art of Animation: Cars Family Suite

Disclosure: I attended a #DisneyKids media event at Disney’s Art of Animation resort in a Cars family suite with most expenses paid, however, all opinions are my own.

Walt Disney World is all about kids and families, so it was no surprise to me a few years ago when the building of the family suites at Art of Animation was announced. Sleeping six, it was to be a more affordable way for larger families to all stay in one room, (or for smaller families like ours to just have some more space and privacy.)

Cars family suite at Disney's Art of Animation resort

The larger than life iconic characters situated throughout the resort, plus fun names like the “big blue (Nemo) pool” and a bar aptly named “The Drop Off,” all make for an adorable family-friendly resort option for those visiting the land of the mouse.

There are four distinct areas at the resort: The Little Mermaid standard rooms, and then three sets of family suites modeled after Finding Nemo, the Lion King, and Cars. We were given a Cars family suite in building one on the third floor, and I have to say, for someone who admittedly loves the deluxe resorts at Disney, I fell in love with this resort. All it took was seeing my daughter’s face light up as she recognized character after character for me to be sold.

cars family suite

We took photos with all the vehicles of cars fame, just like we were standing in line for characters at the theme parks. She ran down the streets of Radiator Springs, and took a dip in the Big Blue Pool. (Note: there is a pool at the Cars section but it wasn’t as ‘hoppin as the main/Nemo pool.)

We had our car, so we were able to park directly behind our building which was nice. We took the elevator up to the 3rd floor and immediately noticed so many fun themed touches such as colorful carpets and traffic cones as lights outside the doors.

We used our Magic Bands to open the door, and were greeted with a very spacious suite with so many fun Disney touches. There are two full bathrooms in the suite, one in the living/dining area, and then one in the master which makes getting ready in the morning a breeze.

The sofa in the living room folds out into a bed for two, and there is a TV as well as a kitchenette complete with refrigerator, coffee pot, and microwave. They even had paper bowls and plates stocked and ready for us.

The coolest part of the suite is the table. It has four chairs around it, and at night, you can pull it down and it turns into a bed that can sleep two. This is where Emma Kate slept and she loved having her own little space.

We admittedly pack way too much when we travel, so it was nice having wall space to put our stuff without constantly tripping over it. Also, Emma Kate goes to bed pretty early, so being able to put her to bed then go into the master and shut the door to give her more time to sleep was awesome. At nap time, we put her in our bed and we hung out in the living room, so everyone was able to get the rest they needed in the Cars family suite.

Our floor was very quiet, and it was just a quick walk over to the lobby to eat, grab a bus, or go to the pool and shops. We loved the location of the resort as well, as it was super close to Disney Springs and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

I never thought I would say this, but when traveling with my four-year-old, I think I would prefer staying in an Art of Animation family suite over a regular room at a deluxe resort simply for the space and the fact that it seems the most “Disney” themed through the eyes of a child. When I’m in Disney World with my daughter, it’s all about her, and they are only little for so long, yall. I want to watch her fall in love with what I grew up with, over and over and over again. The thought and imagination put into the Art of Animation resort gives me just that, and I’m so grateful. We loved our stay in a Cars family suite and will definitely be back!

Check out this video room tour from our Cars family suite:

 

Related: 5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

5 Things Friday XXXIV

Hello my lovely friends! It’s September, fall is in the air…wait, no. I live in Florida. Fall is most definitely not in the air, but hurricanes are. More on that later. I wanted to play catch up with another 5 things Friday post for you all before we head into this weekend. I’m traveling all day today but I wanted to make sure I was able to say hello! You can still catch me over on IG stories and Twitter (@HeathersLG)

So here are 5 things for this Friday:

1.) Another cruise post: I’m still enjoying reminiscing about my time onboard the Carnival Horizon earlier in the summer. Bobby and I loved the new ship and had an amazing time in Bermuda. one thing I loved about the Horizon was all the places to sit and relax. This post talks about some of my favorites!

2.) Toy Story Land FAM: Coming up this time next week is a preschooler Toy Story Land media FAM, (as long as there are no hurricanes) and I was pumped to find out we will be staying at Art of Animation! I have toured this resort twice before on other media trips, but never have I actually called it home for a night, so we are pumped to test drive a family suite for two nights!

3.) MNSSHP: As part of the media trip mentioned above, we will be taking Emma Kate to the Halloween party! If there is anything, in particular, you want pictures of videos of, let me know!

4.) EK’s birthday month: September also means Emma Kate’s birthday month! I can’t believe in less than three weeks I will have a 4-year-old. She is SO ready and has been asking when her birthday is for months now. Poor baby just can’t wait to grow up, no matter how many times I tell her adulting is not fun. Wasn’t I just pregnant? Wasn’t she just learning to crawl? All the feels.

5.) Hurricane watch: As previously alluded to, it’s that special time of year (late August/September) when all the hurricanes come out to play. Almost to the date, we were evacuating hurricane Irma last year, and the tropics are getting all fired up once more. Praying we are able to dodge a bullet once again because after the stress of evacuating last year, I highly doubt we would do it again. Say a prayer these bad boys just stay out at sea and dissipate!

What’s New at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

Disclosure: I was invited to Disney’s media night for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018, however, all opinions are my own.

What a night! The first night of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party did not disappoint. There were characters and rides and desserts and candy and new ride overlays, and fireworks and did I say candy?

This is my favorite event at Walt Disney World, so while I knew I would have fun, I didn’t know there would be so many new amazing additions this year. The “new stuff” can be broken down into three main categories: food, entertainment, and merchandise. I will go through each but be warned, reading this post will make you want to buy a ticket ASAP.

what's new at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

Food:

(Please note, while most of these desserts are new, a couple of them are repeats from last year.) We were treated (haha) to a special cooking demo where we saw exactly how the not so poison apples are constructed, and then we got to eat our own. I can attest that they are very delicious but VERY rich and sweet. No way I could have eaten a whole one by myself.

No-So-Poison Apple Cupcake – Main Street Bakery

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

Maleficent Dessert – Storybook Treats

Madame Leota Dessert – Liberty Square Market

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

Hitchhiking Ghost Dessert – Aloha Isle

Worms & Dirt – Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café

Jack Skellington Cake Push Pop – Sleepy Hollow

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

Oogie Boogie Meringue – Gaston’s Tavern

Pumpkin chesecake – Main Street Bakery

Candy corn milkshake with cotton candy and Mickey marshmallow:

There are other offerings like a burger with tater tots and special nachos, the above were just things we were able to take photos of.

Related: Tips for taking your toddler or preschooler to Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party

Merchandise: 

This year just so happens to be the 25th anniversary of one of my ALL TIME favorite movies, Hocus Pocus. I was super pumped a few years about when the Sanderson sisters were added to the stage show line up at the party, so you can imagine my excitement when I got to see all the special 25th-anniversary merchandise.

I purchased the black cauldron mug, it was just so adorable and I had to get something to commemorate the 25th anniversary.

It’s all so cute! I may or may not also have my eye on the amuck amuck amuck spirit jersey.

There are ornaments, shirts, pins, a mug, bag, and so much more all for Hocus Pocus.

There are also special annual passholder options available for purchase.

I also was smitten over this adorable glow in the dark magic band. The box glows, too!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018

In addition to the Hocus Pocus amazing-ness, there was regular Halloween merchandise. I snagged a few photos for you:

Merchandise can be found during the event at the Emporium on Main Street, and at Big Top Souvenirs in the Storybook Circus area of New Fantasyland. Frontier Trading Post will also offer the event pins.

Entertainment: 

New this year on the entertainment front, three rides have had special elements added to them:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Live action pirates have been added to the ride, as you search for “Gunpowder Pete” on your journey. We had the privilege of hearing all about it and more from a cast member and his pirate friend.

Space Mountain: Hurdle through space completely in the dark with a new soundtrack and special effects.

Mad Tea Party: As you spin faster and faster there are new lights and a cool new spooky soundtrack.

Also new for this year is a Disney Junior dance party in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland. Here you can party with a DJ and friend like Doc MuStuffins and Timon from the Lion Guard.

Whether it is your first or fifteenth time at the party, there is something for everyone. We watched the parade, fireworks, and got tons of candy. The decorations are on point, the vibe is amazing, and it’s the most fun you will have this Halloween season.

What is your favorite part of the party? Any new food you are excited to try or merchandise you are ready to buy? Stay tuned later this week for a video recap of our night at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018!

Visit MickeyHalloween.com for ticket info, and start planning your visit for these party nights: August 24, 28, 31; September 3, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30; October 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, and 31. Prices start at $75 for adults.

Check out this video I took at the party!

*If you want to check out all my Instagram stories from the night of the party, go to my profile and click the highlight titled “Mickey’s NSSHP”

Real Life Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Disclosure: Disney provided me with park tickets and meal cards for the day, however, all opinions and tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach are my own.

I see a lot of Disney tips posts floating around that have great information, but it’s either things that everyone already knows, or it’s not practical tips to help you make the best of your day at the water park. As a real-life mom with a very real life diva three-year-old, I need the “good stuff” when it comes to tips. With that being said, let’s get down to business:

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

1.) Wear water shoes: Florida is hot (and water is wet, I know I know). While Disney does an amazing (seriously, amazing) job of having water sprayers spraying down the sidewalks in a lot of places at the water park, it’s impractical for every square inch of the sidewalk to be wet. This creates very hot pavement for a large portion of the year. Solution: water shoes. Not only will you be thankful for them when you see others frantically running from wet spot to wet spot, but they really come in handy if you or your kids prefer to “walk” in the lazy river.

For instance, my darling three-year-old did not want an intertube in the giant river MADE FOR INTERTUBES, no no, she just wanted to wear her puddle jumper and run along the bottom. Even when her smart mommy told her that she was going to make her feet raw, darling daughter paid no mind and well, you can guess who was crying on the way home (ok, so maybe that was both of us, because her screaming plus traffic on I-4 tends to make me a bit teary.)

Real Life Tip: When you have a 3-year-old, the lazy river isn’t super relaxing, so set the bar low. It IS a ton of fun though, but relaxing…not so much.

2.) Tikes Peak for small kids = a parents dream: When you come into the main area of the park, be sure to hang a right and head into Tike’s Peak if you have a toddler or preschool-aged child. You will thank me later. This adorable area is a scaled-down version of Mt. Gushmore, and not only is this space mostly contained (re: once they go up the top of the “mountain” the only way down is the way they just came walking up, or to go down a slide), but it’s also super adorably themed and has PLENTY for the little Mouseketeers to do. We honestly could have stayed in this area the entire day and never gone to any other parts of the park and my child would have been happy.

Real life tip #2: Keep an eye out for photopass photographers in this area. They tend to hang out in the wading pool area and will snap pics of your kids for you. They can link to your magic band or give you a card to link later. There are usually a lot people vying for these action shot pics, so you may have to wait a minute to grab the photographers attention, but it’s well worth it!

3.) Check all the food options: It’s tempting to think that Blizzard Beach will have standard water park fare on the menu, and while you will find your favorite comfort foods, there is also plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. I had the hot dog with bacon and mac and cheese, and check out some of these other options in my photos below. Doesn’t exactly look like your typical quick service meal, right?

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real Life Tip #3: There are several food locations scattered through the park so be sure to check out all the menus beforehand. The lines can get a little long at high noon so eat a little earlier or a later to avoid the rush.

4.) Refillable drinks: If you are familiar with Disney resorts, you may know about rapid refillable mugs. Blizzard Beach has their own version that is good for the entire day for $11.99 on sodas and the like. (Sadly no alcohol.) You can also hang on to it and bring it back another day for a discounted price on your next day of refills. If you plan to stay all day I think this is a great deal. Best to stay hydrated in the sun!

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real life tip #4: For those that like adult beverages, there are plenty of places to get them. My favorite is the bar right in front of Melt Away Bay (the wave pool) because it’s a great spot for people watching and has a nice view.

Related: Beyond the Parks Part 1

5.) Arrive before park opening or mid-afternoon: I know I know, this sounds contradictory. Allow me to explain. If you plan to stay all day or prefer the morning hours like we do, arrive early. Every time we have gone we have been allowed in the gates before the advertised opening. While there are PLENTY of chairs at the park, some of the more coveted areas and areas in the shade go more quickly, especially areas along the wave pool and in Tike’s Peak.

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real Life Tip #5: Tike’s Peak chairs go super quickly because all the parents want to lounge in them and sit fruity drinks while they “watch” their children play. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, head there first to put down your stuff if you are wanting to have a seat.

A lot of people leave after lunch or in the early afternoon after there wee ones have had enough (hand raise) so this opens up chairs and spots in line for those willing to come in the afternoon after the initial crowd has gone home.

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach is an amazing place to visit while at the Walt Disney World resort. The lines are usually never super long, it boasts an almost mile long lazy river, and most of the slides are family friendly. In fact, only 3 slides have height requirements! Whether you are a local coming in for the day or in the middle of a week-long vacation, be sure not to skip out on this fun opportunity to make some “real life” memories with your family. Be sure to check out my recap video below of our fun-filled day in our happy place and thanks for reading my tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 3 Part 2

Disclosure: I was invited to a 3-night media event by Walt Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

(Check out day 1, 2, and 3 before reading this one!)

We left off on day three after our time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Disney then provided us with Minnie Vans to go wherever we needed to go! It was so much fun to use this awesome new(ish) service. Since Bobby and Emma Kate were at Animal Kingdom, that’s where I headed in my van to meet up with them.

It. was. hot. We only stayed a little while and Bobby did Flights of Passage while Emma Kate and I did the Navi River Journey.

Our plan was to head back to the Boardwalk and then go to the pool, but it started storming as soon as we got back. So we decided to just take a rest and Bobby would take her later while I was at the final event for the trip.

I met up with the group and we rode over to EPCOT. We were having dinner out on the patio of Spice Road Table. I was excited because I had only ever had drinks here and not a meal. Meanwhile, EK and Bobby hung out on the Boardwalk and went to the pool.

The drinks at Spice Road Table are delicious and we had an amazing view of the water.

I had the filet and it was delicious. (The restaurant also did a great job accommodating allergies in our group!)

We had a great time eating and chatting, and then took a leisurely walk over to our Illuminations dessert party. Due to the threat of rain, they set up the party inside, and then after we had dessert we walked out to our special spot for the fireworks.

The show was great, but then sadly it was time to say goodbye to the new friends I had made on the trip. I learned so much about the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, and can’t wait until EK is old enough to play there herself.

Don’t go away just yet, the next day we headed to Toy Story Land before going home, and I will do one more post all about it. A huge thanks to Disney for hosting us!

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 3 Part 1

Disclosure: I was invited to a 3-night media event by Walt Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

In case you missed day one and two, go back and read those first!

Day three of the media event was the “big day” where we were busy all day long at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. I went into a lot of details of the events, etc on this post, but I will add in a few more as I talk about this day.

We began the day bright and early at the complex. Thankfully they had breakfast and coffee for us. It was cool to see some of the healthy food options you can purchase for your sports team. In my box was an avocado bagel, apple, orange juice, and yogurt. It hit the spot and is definitely something I would be happy for my child to eat as opposed to sugary on the go cereals or pop tarts.

After breakfast, we toured the entire complex, which took a while but was so much fun! (This place is huge, so we did some touring via golf cart.) After seeing the new arena and all the courts it has, we got to hang out with Goofy and Nick Anderson of Orlando Magic fame. He was so nice and spent a ton of time talking to us (check out my Instagram TV channel to see some of what he said.

He even gave me some pointers on my follow through (I haven’t touched a basketball in about 10 years yall) and it was so great to be on the court again.

We sadly left the arena after hanging out with Nick and Goofy, and made our way over to the VISA Center where we learned about the on the spot tee shirt printing services that are offered. It’s so cool that you can get your name, number, team name, and much more printed on a shirt. We even got our own shirts!

Next we got to see the real live working studio where sports reporting is done. It was so much fun to sit behind the desk and pretend like I was important haha! What’s cool is that they can change the colors of the studio (like the yellow and blue in the below photo) depending on what they are covering. How cool!

Next, we headed into the production studio which was SO COOL. I wrote more about it on the link I posted at the top of this page so won’t go into a ton of detail, but it’s so cool how much video footage these guys have on all the events that go on at the complex. It seems so intricate and detailed.

After learning all about the production side, we hopped on some golf carts and headed out to the soccer fields to catch some of the tournament action. I loved seeing people everywhere anad so many games going on at once.
Next, we headed back inside to take a look at the game day photo options. You can get your picture taken holding your favorite sporting equipment and have it put on balls, blankets, Christmas ornaments, and more. You can even hire a photographer to take action shots of your child during their game so you can just focus on cheering. I love this option!

We all had our pictures taken and happened to be put on the cover of ESPN magazine. 🙂 It was soon time for lunch, and we had a delicious spread and ate while listening to more wonderful cast members talking about the complex and then my favorite…runDisney!

At the end of the day we were surprised with an amazing gift…a race entry into the runDisney Walt Disney World marathon weekend! I was of course super pumped because I was not planning on signing up for any of the races. It was so generous of them, and I can’t wait for you all to follow along in my journey on race weekend.

This post is getting long so I’m going to break this day up into two posts, so stay tuned for more!

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 2

On Sunday morning we hung out at the hotel for a little bit and then drove over to Disney Springs for our welcome brunch at Splitsville. It also just so happened to be the day of the World Cup soccer final! We were able to bowl, eat, and watch the game after hearing a few words from Faron Kelley and Darrell Fry about the media event, the ESPN WWOS Complex, and more.

Emma Kate had never bowled before and she had a blast!

I had plenty of delicious food and plenty of mimosas. It was also a lot of fun to be there for the game because lots of other soccer teams were at Splitsville and they were all so into the game. What a cool experience to be in Walt Disney World for a soccer tournament AND getting to watch the World Cup while there.

After brunch we headed to EPCOT for a couple of hours and Emma Kate rode Soarin’ for the first time (she was not a fan haha). It was so incredibly warm so we walked back (so nice to not have to take a bus or car!) to the room because I had another event to attend.

Bobby and EK went to dinner and the pool, and I headed to the Sports Complex to watch the opening ceremonies of the two soccer tournaments I talked about in this post. Thankfully we watched from an air conditioned suite, but it was so cool to see the dedication and love the parents and family members showed to the youth athletes by being at the ceremonies.

Each team had the opportunity to march across the field and sit in the stands with everyone else. Some of these teams came from FAR AWAY. I’m talking Bermuda, Kenya, Europe. What a cool experience. Minnie and Mickey even made an appearance in their adorable soccer outfits.

Meanwhile these two were having their own fun!

After the ceremonies we went back to the resort to change for dinner. We ate at Flying Fish Cafe, which is on the Boardwalk. Again, another perk of staying here is there are so many places to walk. Dinner was amazing and we had a nice private room so we could all get to know each other. I was even surprised with a special birthday treat and song, which was totally unexpected!

It was a late night, so I headed to bed because the next day we would be at the Sports Complex all day, and I couldn’t wait to see some of the new additions and see the soccer tournaments in action.

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 1

Disclosure: In case you missed my post about youth sports and ESPN Wide World of Sports, you can check it out here. I was provided with a free trip to WDW for this FAM, however all opinions are my own.

Recently my family and I attended a media FAM at Walt Disney World, and we arrived on Saturday although the FAM trip didn’t start until Sunday. We checked into our hotel, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, mid morning, and were pumped that our room was ready! We went ahead and unloaded the car and then headed to Magic Kingdom.

The refurbished (I think last year?) rooms are so nice and clean looking. Two thumbs up.

Thanks to our fastpasses from the event, we were able to do attractions like Peter Pan, Enchanted Tales with Bell, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. We also may have done the People Mover–twice. We also ate lunch at Peco’s Bills and watched the show in front of the castle (which EK lloovveesss).

Emma Kate got to be in the show as Belle’s horse and had a great time.

We even managed to get a family picture at the purple wall! Check out that hand on her hip. She truly is a blogger’s child.

We stayed all day and even watched the parade. In the late afternoon (it was so hot yall) we hopped on a boat and headed to Ft. Wilderness. My birthday was the day before, and I wanted to have a Disney birthday dinner at Trail’s End, our favorite Disney buffet. Dinner was delicious, and our server sang a special happy birthday to me (yee haw!) in true southern style.

After dinner we let Emma Kate play on the playground where she managed to walk behind a swing and get smashed into the ground and covered with dirt. After a long walk in hysterics to the bathroom getting her cleaned up, we decided it was time to call it a night, and got on the boat back to the Magic Kingdom…so we could take the monorail back to the TTC, then the tram to our car and our car to the resort. WHEW. When we got back we decided to walk around the Boardwalk for a few minutes. I LOVE the Boardwalk at night, and we people watched, got ice cream samples, and watched a magic show.

It was so nice to just be able to walk right back up to our room and get ready for bed. We had a big day the next day and needed to get some sleep. Stay tuned for day two and the media FAM!

Youth Sports Events to Remember at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Disclosure: For this media trip I was hosted by Disney and visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, however all opinions are my own.

When I was growing up, I played on several different youth sports teams. I played recreational soccer in my town, and I played basketball, volleyball, and ran track at my school. I still remember how excited I became when it was time to “travel” to tournaments. I’m fairly certain the farthest we ever traveled was a couple of hours away, but to me it was a very special experience.

That being said, after learning about all of the amazing youth sports opportunities at the “Florida Picturesque” designed Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, I know that grade school Heather would have been jumping  out of her skin with excitement. Let me help you understand what I’m talking about.

Let’s say your youth baseball team is coming to play in a tournament at the complex. Just a few of the options available to you and your team/family include:

-Team meals: You can place orders in advance for fast and healthy meals, snacks, and beverages. The meals are delivered right to your competition venue so parents and coaches don’t have to stress.

-Equipment drop: For certain events, teams are able to drop their equipment off at a special drop zone to be transported to their field instead of lugging it all around the large complex. So fancy!

-Gameday photography: I love this one. For teams and parents who would like professional photos of their child playing in their game, you can schedule a photographer to take hi-resolution pictures for you so that you can sit back and enjoy watching. There are many packages available, as well as posed photos in front of a green screen. Then you can have your child’s picture put on a blanket, ball, or many other fun options. (Great Christmas gifts for grandparents!)

 

-Print-on-Demand Custom Tees: You can have a shirt printed on the spot to commemorate your game, tournament, first place win, and more. Customize with your name, team name, number, and sport. We had the privilege of having shirts made and they are so fun!

-Welcome Center: Here you can find cast members to help you find your way around the complex, help with theme park information, reservations assistance, and more.

Also, while I was visiting the complex, two huge soccer tournaments were just starting for the week, and we had the privilege of attending the opening ceremonies. These young athletes were treated like olympians with their own “parade of nations” of sorts.

As each country was announced, the teams marched onto the field singing, waving flags, and grinning from ear to ear as their fans and parents cheered from the stands. There was also a closing ceremony at the conclusion of the tournament to honor and acknowledge the players one last time. Talk about the royal treatment! Of course, Minnie and Mickey were on hand to celebrate.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Some of the events that happen at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex include:

-International Championships Cup Futures Tournament

-Jr. NBA World Championship

-runDisney race weekend expos

-Disney Cup international

-AAU National Basketball Championships

-NFL Pro Bowl Week

-National High School Cheerleading Championship

-Atlanta Braves Spring Training

-AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships

-Pop Warner Super Bowl

 

Now for a little information about the complex itself, because y’all, it’s massive.

There’s Champion Stadium, The Arena, HP Field House, Visa Athletic Center, Track and field Complex, Production center, as well as baseball, softball, and tennis areas and more. The parking lot has over 5,000 spaces, and there is even a grill so you can sit down and eat after a long and fun day out on the fields or courts. (They were using 30 fields for the soccer tournaments!) Also the fields are totally versatile and can be flipped to a different sport in as little as 24 hours if need be.

The production center is pretty spectacular. It’s a 3,200 square foot facility with two control rooms including three jumbo screens. They are now using 8k camera systems and have 24 channels of replay. They save and store so much footage, over 1,100 hours so far in 2018 to be exact.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Of course while heading to Walt Disney World for your child’s sporting event, if only makes sense to stay for a few extra days and hang out at the parks right? There is so much to explore including the all new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as Avatar, the World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Make it a trip for the whole extended family and I’m sure your little athlete will never forget any of it.

Did you know all of this existed right on Disney property? Have your kids participated in an event at ESPN WWOS? Stay tuned for more of a play by play post of what I did during the Disney sports FAM.