Every year tens of thousands of young athletes from all corners of the United States (and even the world) travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for their national championship tournaments. These tournaments and competitions include sports such as basketball, baseball, wrestling, karate, volleyball, softball, cheerleading and many more. Along with the players and coaches, a contingent of parents, siblings and grandparents also make their way to Disney. Wide World of Sports accommodates this influx with ease due to the many amenities available for the athletes and their entourage. And to top it off, who wouldn’t want to play their championship games in the ‘House of Mouse’?!?!
[faq title=”Disney Team Sports Frequently Asked Questions (Submitted by Sue Nowicki):”]
[faq_question] 1. During the regular season I feel like I have to pack up my entire house to go to a tournament. What will I need to bring to Disney for a tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] As every sports parent knows, the four big must-haves for all away tournaments is a lawn chair, plenty of snacks, a camera and a good book. Playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex makes all these items unnecessary as great seating is available at all the sports fields, stadiums and arenas, the Wide World of Sports Grill has a full menu which includes burgers, sandwiches, salads and snacks and for people like me who lack the ability to take good pictures, there are professional photographers taking amazing pictures which can be purchased later. If you get bored between contests, you can tour this amazing facility or check out any of the other events taking place at the same time. [/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 2. How do I find out what tournaments are being held at Wide World of Sports?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] ESPN Wide World of Sports website lists all the events taking place within the next year. You can also search the sanctioning organization for your sport:
Amateur Athletic Union – http://www.aausports.org
KSA – http://ksaevents.net
Pop Warner – http://www.popwarner.com
Universal Cheerleaders Association – http://uca.varsity.com
Universal Dance Association – http://uda.varsity.com
United States Specialty Sports Association – http://usssatoday.com[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 3. Can Disney resorts accommodate my whole team which includes not only the players and coaches but parents, other siblings and even some grandparents? If so, which resorts are best?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Disney has a myriad of accommodation options which can handle teams big and small in a variety of styles from two queen bed rooms to multiple bedroom suites. However, the best resort options at Disney for a traveling sports team are Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. The reason these are the best choices is because they are some of the lower priced resort options at Walt Disney World and they all offer direct bus service to ESPN Wide World of Sports.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 4. Several families are bringing other siblings with them. What are some ideas of things to do with the other siblings?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] YOU ARE AT DISNEY!!!! Take full advantage of your proximity to the most ‘Magical Place on Earth’ and visit the Disney parks. Most tournament sanctioning organizations (AAU, Pop Warner, UDA/UCA, etc.) offer deeply discounted park tickets. Arriving a couple days early or staying a few extra days and visiting the Disney Parks is a great way to kick off or wrap up your tournament experience. [/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 5. My son’s baseball team will be at Disney for a tournament in December. Will I need to rent a car?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Renting a car is a personal decision which relies on a variety of factors including your need for flexibility, which resort you are staying at and tournament venues. If your family would like maximum flexibility then renting a car is your best option as Disney Transportation only runs from one hour prior to the first event to one hour after the last event and sometimes cannot accommodate large teams and equipment. It is also the best option if you chose to stay at a resort not on the Wide World of Sports bus route. Another thing to consider is what venues your tournament will utilize. Some tournaments are so large they must utilize venues around the Orlando area. For example, AAU Volleyball Nationals is played at both the Wide World of Sports and the Orlando Convention Center which is located near Sea World – Orlando. Your sanctioning organization will have all tournament site information and might also have discounts available for car rentals.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 6. How does Disney transportation to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports work?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Disney Transportation offers direct bus service to Wide World of Sports from Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s All-Star Resort. However, if you had your heart set on staying at a resort not included in this list you can either rent a car (parking is free), take advantage of Uber or you can use Disney Transportation by taking the bus from your resort to the nearest theme park then take a resort bus to one of the resort above then taking the Wide World of Sports bus from there. NOTE: The Wide World of Sports bus schedule runs from one hour prior to the first event to 11:00pm or when the complex closes. Also, due to capacity limits the Disney buses may not be able to accommodate full teams with their equipment.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 7. Can I use Disney gift cards or Disney Dollars at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Yes, all locations at Disney, including ESPN Wide World of Sports accept Disney gift cards and Disney Dollars. However, if your tournament is using other tournament venues around Orlando they will not accept the Disney Gift Cards or Disney Dollars.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 8. My daughter’s team will be playing at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports for the first time this summer. What are some ways we can make it extra special?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] There are so many great ways to make the trip magical for your daughter’s team. Here are a few ideas I have used in the past:
Secret Teammate – Organize a weekly secret teammate gift exchange in the time leading up to your Disney tournament. The swap doesn’t need to be expensive as a matter of fact I would limit the gift cost to no more than $2 per swap, think candy and trinkets. Have them also include an inspirational quote with each swap. (Walt Disney, himself, was a great source of inspirational quotes.) The secret teammates will reveal themselves at Disney.
Team Meals – Disney offers several options for having a team meal. The first, and most obvious, is having a team meal at one of the many Disney restaurants. A call to 407-WDW-DINE will connect you with a cast member who can help you select the best restaurant to accommodate your group. The second is a resort pizza party. Most Disney resorts offer pizza, sandwich, salad, dessert and beverage delivery. The third is a cookout. If your group is staying at a Disney Vacation Club resort there are picnic areas where there are grills. Be aware these grills are first come, first served. Charcoal can be purchased at the resort store. For other cookout supplies, there is a Super Target, Winn Dixie and a Publix on W. Irlo Bronson Drive near Animal Kingdom. Lastly, there are MANY options for eating off property as many chain restaurants are located on W. Irlo Bronson Drive.
Sport Specific Olympics – Hold an Olympic games using sport specific ‘events’ prior to the journey to Disney. For example, we did a Softball Olympics for my daughter’s all-star team and the events were longest throw, most accurate throw (SS to 1B), catching fly balls, fastest runner H to 1B and H to H. After the ‘Olympics’ we did a short awards ceremony where we presented medals for each event which were purchased from our local Crown Trophy for $2.99/medal and had a small potluck.
Pre-Tournament Site Practice – Some tournaments held at Disney offer the opportunity to practice at ESPN Wide World of Sport prior to the beginning of competition. This is a great way get over the jitters of playing at Disney and can also give teams a chance to scout out the many amenities offered.
Disney Florist – Using the Disney Florist is a great way to celebrate participation as well as victories. They have several package that can be purchased and waiting in your Disney resort upon your arrival. Visit their website to peruse their unique arrangements. A couple of great packages for first time Disney athletes are the Ears to You package which includes personalized Mickey Ears and Disney themed snacks for $49.95 and Mickey’s Kool Snack package which features a Disney cooler stuffed with snacks for $44.95.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 9. We are going to Disney for my son’s baseball tournament but we also want to enjoy a little of Walt Disney World. What do you suggest for park tickets and dining reservations?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Given the hectic schedule most tournaments follow I would suggest buying non-hopper park passes. Unless you are arriving several days early or staying several days after your tournament, having the time to enjoy one park let alone two is just not possible in the limited free time you will have. Check with your sanctioning organization regarding Disney park tickets as most offer deep discounts. Since most tournament schedules are not released until the weeks preceding the tournament, it will be quite difficult to make ADRs at the 180 day mark with any accuracy unless you are arriving before your tournament or staying after. However, you could make reservations for when you MIGHT be available then cancel if necessary. Remember, most Disney Table Service restaurants have a one day cancellation policy. If cancellations are not received by that time $10pp will be charged to the guaranteeing credit card. For same day dining reservations stop by the Welcome Center at the Wide World of Sports Complex or give the Cast Members at Disney Dining (407-WDW-DINE) a call and tell them what time and what area you would like to eat and they can help you come up with your options.[/faq_answer]
[faq_question] 10. Since Nationals is our last time together as a team for the season we wanted to celebrate with some sort of group gathering while at Disney. What do you suggest?[/faq_question]
[faq_answer] Disney is a wonderful place to have an end-of-the-season team gathering. The options for such an occasion are limited only by your imagination. Disney offers everything from resort pizza parties, pool parties and for a spectacular sendoff you could try is Disney’s Family Magic Tour. This wonderful team adventure entrusts your group with saving the Magic Kingdom from a Disney Villain. It is great fun and well worth the $34.00pp.[/faq_answer][/faq]