Jul 13

Why You Should Bring Your Family to Play at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports

75.3 million adults traveled 100 miles or more, round-trip, to attend an organized sporting event in the past five years. ~Sports Travel Magazine

Were you one of those 75.3 million? How was your experience? After touring Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex this week, I am finding it hard to believe that any other venue in the world can hold a candle to it.  And with sports travel increasingly becoming ‘THE’ family vacation, what better destination to consider than Walt Disney World!

Open in 1997, the 255 acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has grown to include over 30 outdoor playing fields including sports such as baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, field hockey and track and field as well as indoor sports like basketball, wrestling, and volleyball just to name a few.  Disney Sports hosts over 200 events annually.

Exactly Who Can Play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex?

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports baseball

ANYONE can play!  The complex is active year round. From the professionals (like the Atlanta Braves), to the scholastic level, to the local level (like Pop Warner) and even down to the individual (clinics).  There’s something for every skill level at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Disney keeps families in mind and schedules many of it’s larger events during major holiday weekends, making it more convenient for families to fit their sports travel within work and school schedules.

Showcase events often times lead to college recruitments. Disney brings in hundreds of scouts during showcases and scholorships are even awarded on site!

The Disney Difference

From the moment you drive into the massive parking lot you’ll experience the Disney difference.  This starts with bag drop.  Cast members will meet you in the parking lot and collect your bags and gear and deliver them right to the field.

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports parking lot bag drop

Have you ever taken the family to participate in a sporting event and while one child is on the field, the other children are whining and complaining about being bored? Or maybe your team is waiting for their turn on the field and you are finding it difficult to occupy their time. That’s not going to happen at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Check out all of the free activities the kids can enjoy during their down time at the Festival Center located amongst the different sports fields!

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Festival CenterDisney ESPN Wide World of Sports Festival CenterDisney ESPN Wide World of Sports Festival Center

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Festival Center TentThere’s also an enormous tented area with risers where you can take in a seminar or stop for a lunch break.  And speaking of lunch…the logistics of it can become a nightmare. How are you going to get to the grocery store and then lug all those meals down to the field for the team?  You’re not. Disney is! That’s right. Lunch can be a completely stress free experience with the healthy boxed lunch options available at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  Your meals are also delivered to you. No shopping for food and no lugging of coolers….ever!

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Box Lunch OptionsHave a larger group you are trying to feed?  Disney can set up tents for you and bring out the 30 foot food truck. They even have two craft beer trucks that can be outfitted with taps of your hometown local brew!

And one of the stand-out amenities was the Office Max Center where attendees can cool off, check email and even charge electronic devices in one of the Charging Station Lockers!  They even have mobile versions out by the fields at the Festival Center.

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Office max charging station

 But What if I’ve Never Been to Walt Disney World Before?

No worries. 50-60% of attendees have never been to Walt Disney World before.  You are not alone.  Disney is there to help.

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports Welcome CenterInside the Welcome Center you can do almost anything.  Don’t know which park to go to? Need tickets? You can buy full and half day tickets here.  Cast Members can even supply you with sample park touring itineraries.  Finished with your game and headed to the airport? Print your boarding passes here.  Want to make a dinner reservation for the entire team? Cast Members know which restaurants on property will have short-notice large-party availability for you and your team and can book a reservation for dinner.  Those boxed lunches I showed you earlier…you can order them here. You can even make up cheer cards for your athlete.  The list just goes on and on.

Are you a “Team Mom”? Disney knows how hard you work throughout the year and believes you need special recognition. During your trip to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex they want to make it as easy as possible for you while making you look like you did all the work on your own.

Your Child Can Become a Superstar Athlete

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports soccer

Disney wants to make your child feel like they are the MVP and it shows. From hiring professional sports broadcasters like Kevin Corke to cover live game play to plastering play-by-plays on thousands of screens located everywhere within the complex. No expense is spared.

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports broadcast center Kevin Corke

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports broadcast center

The atmosphere that Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex provides is like no other.  The excitement is palpable.  Add that excitement to the world class service that Disney provides and you’ve got a true home run.

Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports basketballThat’s Great but How Much is All of This Going to Cost Me?

It’s so accessible to get here and costs less than you think.  As an example, all-inclusive costs (game play, lodging & park tickets) hover around $7,000 for a high-school team to come and compete.  Specific event pricing can be obtained by visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex website.  Fundraising is also available for the Disney Sports Youth Market.  Most fundraisers aim to generate between $3,000 – $5,000, or on average, $600 per child.  Disney also offers the option of raffling off a Walt Disney World vacation as part of its fundraising initiatives. That’d be a much easier sell than say cookie dough or wrapping paper eh?

Walt Disney World is the place where memories are made.  You only have 18 short years to make those childhood memories with your children. Why not make them at Walt Disney World and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex?

 I Leave You with This Video

Full Disclosure: I was invited as media to attend the 3-Day #DisneySportsFestival where I toured the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  My family and I were provided lodging, park tickets and some meals. All opinions are my own…but as the title of this blog alludes…I’m a big fan of the brand anyway ;-)

Jul 13

I’m Headed to the #DisneySportsFestival at Walt Disney World {Follow Along with Me}

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex SignHave you ever driven past this sign and wondered to yourself…”What’s down that road?”

This week I’m going to let you in on all the mystery that surrounds the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.  For the next three days I will be updating live from the most magical place on earth as part of the #DisneySportsFestival and I hope that you can join me through my social media channels!

ESPN I'm Going*Full disclosure – This trip is complements of Disney. My family and I are being provided with hotel accommodations, meals and park tickets. All opinions are of course my own.

Jul 13

Sneak Peek Inside the Guest Rooms at the All New Walt Disney World Four Seasons Resort

If you don’t have a couple mill lying around for a home inside the Golden Oak subdivision at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, then you can book the next best thing soon…a room at the Four Seasons Resort.

Nestled within Golden Oak, the Four Seasons Resort Orlando is still under construction with an anticipated opening of Summer of 2014, but a friend tipped me off to some photos of the luxurious rooms that will be available once the cranes are lowered and the pixie dust settles around the resort property.

The color palette reminds me of the rooms at the Ritz Carlton Orlando. Lush!

Four Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World roomFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World bedFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World King roomFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World King room layoutFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World desk

Four Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World desk chair minnie mouse backpack

Four Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World EntryFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World Balcony PatioFour Seasons Resort Orlando Walt Disney World BathroomI for one can not wait to book a stay here! In addition to these luxurious rooms, the resort will also offer sweeping views of Walt Disney World at the rooftop steakhouse and lounge where guests can take in Epcot‘s Illumintions: Reflections of Earth and Magic Kingdom‘s Wishes fireworks.

Jul 13

Unadvertised Disney VIP Service Gets You on Rides with No Wait

Disney Plaid VIP Tour GuidePLAIDS

Have you ever heard this term?

Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to glimpse a celebrity touring the Walt Disney World theme parks on one of your Disney vacations? Ever notice the costume that the accompanying cast member “handler” is wearing? It’s plaid.  “Plaids” wield magical powers within the gates of the Most Magical Place on Earth. Private car service, fastpass entry, private tours, VIP seating for parades, stage shows and nighttime spectaculars! Did you know that you can “rent’ your own plaid for the day?

Imagine it. New Years Eve. Magic Kingdom has closed to capacity mere minutes after park opening. You and your family wake up relaxed at your resort with no alarm clock. Grab some breakfast and head out to your private car service. Your VIP Tour Guide aka “plaid” picks you up and drives you over to the Magic Kingdom where he accompanies you to Space Mountain. You look up at the “stand-by” marquee and notice a 180 minute wait time as you breeze past a long line of guests and enter through the fastpass queue…without a fastpass.  You subsequently have the same experience at Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Jungle Cruise, Buzz, Peter Pan and Pooh.  All of these attractions experienced while the same folks are still standing in line back over at Space Mountain.  Sounds crazy right?

That’s what you get with Disney’s VIP Tour Services. And these services don’t come cheap!

A Disney Resort guest is going to pay $315 and hour for the service ($355 on holidays). Sure you can have up to 10 people in your party but the minimum tour time you must book is 6 hours.  That’s $1,890 for the day. Some may not bat an eyelash at that price…but others may not have even paid that much for their entire Walt Disney World vacation.

If you could get a group of 10 friends together this doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. $189 per person with a private guide that will drive you to all four theme parks in a day and escort you on each and every ride with little to no wait.

What’s Your Thoughts on the Disney VIP Service? Yay or Nay?

Jul 13

runDisney’s Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Gets a Brand New 10K Race

Tinker Bell 10K

In its third year, Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend, hosted by the city of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort, is scheduled for January 16-19. Earlier this year, more than 21,000 runners (including myself) took part in the women-focused weekend of events centered on health, fitness and active lifestyles.

The new Disney Fairies-themed 10K will be held Saturday, January 18, and builds on the massive popularity of the runDisney series and women-focused events. Tinker Bell 10K finishers will receive a new, specially-designed, fairy-themed medal.

“We’re excited to add the popular 10K distance to Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend,” said Faron Kelley, director of marketing, Disney Sports. “Tinker Bell 10K expands an already exciting series of events, and adds more opportunities for our passionate runners on the west coast, especially those new runners who are stepping up to the 10K distance.”

Along with the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend is one of two women-focused runDisney events. Both races are among the largest women-specific running events in the country and focus on healthy, active lifestyles for women and girls.

Registration for 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend opens July 9 at 12 pm EST/9 am PST at www.runDisney.com.