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?
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.
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!
There’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!
Have 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.
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.
Inside 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 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.
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.
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?
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 😉