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.
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.
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.