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 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.

#DisneySportsFestival Day 2 Part 1

I blogged last week about the Sunday night we spent at the Disney Sports Festival. Since I have already written a post about the sports complex in general, I am going to instead tell you a little about my day and highlight things that I didn’t mention or go into detail about in my previous post.

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Monday was our first official full day, and it started bright and early at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. We were there for a tour which was led by a friend of mine, Carissa!

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We were welcomed to the complex, were fed breakfast, and then heard a little bit from some important people in Disney sports. Recognize anyone?

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It was a great way to open things up and start our day at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but of course we had to get pictures with the main man, Mickey!

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This next picture of me and Jen totally cracks me up. We are just discussing some Fantasy Football picks. Raise your hand if you would watch a sports show with me and Jen as hosts!!! No? Come on!

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We started our tour and were shown some parts of the complex I had never seen before. This Office Max business center was way cool. it had phone charging stations as well as signs and fans you could write on with sharpies to cheer on your team!

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We also got to see a really neat thing that you can do at the sports complex, and that is make customized shirts. You pick a sport, and can have a wide range of things put on the back and sleeves of the shirts. I was stoked when I learned we got to make shirts of our own! I put my Twitter handle on the back, of course.

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Looking through the book of logos.

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After picking out our shirts we were brought down to a place where we saw some green screens. I have seen these before and was interested in learning about how a team can have their photo made together, or even put their super stars on the cover of ESPN magazine!

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Again, I loved the interaction. Not only were we TOLD about how this process works, but we were given the opportunity to join in the fun. Photos with Goofy in front of a green screen anyone? I made him “run” with me. I felt a little goofy (haha) taking the photo but I think it turned out cute.

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I cannot even tell you how many people thought my ESPM magazine cover was real in I posted it on Instagram. I wish!

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This post is getting a bit lengthy so I will pick up with the rest of the tour and the surprises that were in store for us next time!

QOTD: Have you ever had your photo taken in front of a green screen?

LAST DAY to enter my medal hanger giveaway by Sport Hooks!

Disclosure: I attended this event as a media guest for Disney Sports. My flight, accommodations, park tickets, and meals were supplied by Disney, but my opinions are my own. 

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

 

When you take a family vacation to Walt Disney World, you will find a wide range of fun activities  to choose from. The most common ones that come to mind are of course the theme parks, but there is so much more to Walt Disney World than the Magic Kingdom. One of my favorite sometimes overlooked places on property is the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. As a runner, I used to only think of the sports complex as “the place we go for the race expos”, and never really paid much mind to other things that may be going on there. Fortunately, my eyes have been recently opened, and come to find out a lot of amazing events happen every week at the complex.

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Not only is the sports complex a beautiful 255 acre facility with amazing technology and top notch amenities, but it is a great place for the whole family to visit and enjoy. It boasts over 350 professional and amateur events a year! In the spring you can go watch an Atlanta Braves spring training game, or you can see the Pro soccer classic. In the fall don’t miss the slow-pitch world series or the Disney Junior Soccer classic. There is something for every sports fan, and many for kids to participate in with their teams, and not just the typical sporting events you think of like baseball and soccer. Think bigger: cheerleading, volleyball, wrestling, and even lacrosse. These special events happen all throughout the year, so be sure to check out the schedule on the ESPN Wide World of Sports website.

 

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Not to mention, your kids can participate in events, camps, and spring training at the sports complex. Disney is the perfect location to “get your feet wet” in the world of traveling sports teams and tournaments. A lot of young athletes of all ages and their families would love to get started with traveling to out of state tournaments, but aren’t sure where to start. It can be an intimidating thought, but Disney makes the process so easy for you (more on that in another post). Not only is it a safe and friendly environment for your child, but it’s also fun for the whole family. Siblings, parents, and grandparents alike can all have a blast by making this sporting trip into a vacation suited for the whole family. Disney helps with the planning, and has activities to keep you entertained for your entire stay. What better place to teach your kids about the value of teamwork, and a friendly competitive spirit than Walt Disney World?

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The weather in central Florida makes for an ideal place for a team to branch out and have some fun together, especially if you live in a northern state. Escape the snowy winter and freezing temperatures of winter by traveling to Disney for a tournament or spring training camp. All of the fields and facilities are made of the finest quality materials, so your child can feel like a real pro playing on the best surfaces available.

Want to visit the sports complex on your next trip to check it out? There is so much to do, that the complex appeals to athletes and spectators of all ages. You can even grab a bite to eat at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, check out the gift shop, or go play in the PlayStation pavilion. Help me spread the word about all of the options available for you and your family, and let me know if you have any questions.

Be sure to check out the ESPN Wide World of Sports’ official YouTube channel to see highlights from events throughout the year. Will your child be on the next highlight reel? You can make it happen! Visit ESPN Wide World of Sports for more info.

QOTD: Did you know all of these events existed? For those with kids, would you want your child to play in a tournament or attend a sports camp at Disney?

*Photos courtesy of Disney Sports News

Super Bowl Excitement

 

Yesterday, Bobby and I decided to drive downtown into New Orleans and hang out with some friends who are in town for the Super Bowl. We got there in the afternoon on a gloomy, misty, humid day.

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We parked in the French Quarter, and took a walk over to see some of the ESPN set up, and they happened to be filming while we were there. Some of you may have seen it on TV yesterday!

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It was neat to see all of the behind the scenes action with the camera crews and directors.

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There were a good amount of people mulling about for the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, and I know the crowds will ramp up the closer we get to the weekend.

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I am quite sad it isn’t my boys in black and gold playing for the Lombardi trophy, but it was still awesome to see all of the excitement in the air. There were signs and billboards everywhere announcing the game, advertising merchandise, as well as Mardi Gras! Kind of neat that everything kind of coincided this year. It’s great news for the city of New Orleans, the publicity and tourists will give a much needed boost to the local economy.

After walking around a bit, we met up with our friends, at their hotel…which happened to be the team hotel for the San Francisco 49er’s. There were banners and photos of the team everywhere, as well as a lot of added security. We hung out with our friends and had some drinks at the hotel, and it was so funny to see all the fans lurking around the lobby waiting for a player to walk by. Then they would pounce, asking for autographs and shaking hands.

I am jealous of everyone getting to go to the game, but I am at least glad I got the change to hang out for a bit downtown and experience some of the fun and the hype of the week.

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Darrell and I in front of the Super Bowl sign at the 49er’s team hotel.

Can’t wait for Sunday’s game, going to be a fun one to watch! Will anyone be watching from the dome?

QOTD: Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?