(Reader note: I was a guest of ESPN Wide World of Sports during my stay and my room and some of my food was covered during my visit. I was not paid for this trip and my opinions remain my own.)
I’ve put in my time as Team Mom, acting like food manager, social coordinator, and buffer between the coach, many, many seasons, and I’ve seen many different sports complexes, but never have I seen anything like what’s offered for young athletes at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World.
We’re talking about the big league experience here.
I was invited to tour the facilities and find out more during the recent ESPN Sports Festival while the International Soccer Championship was underway. While there, we got to see all the options that can help make a Team Mom’s job easier. Let me tell you, the entire complex is a winner!
From the Welcome Center where you can get help buying park passes at a discount or make dining reservations for an entire team to the Playstation Pavilion where there are SEVENTEEN PS3’s with 40 inch screens (which the other kids along on your trip can play while the others compete), ESPN has thought of it all.
What does it cost? That depends on the product you’re coming for…some kids simply compete, while others are part of spring training (hello, this is where the Atlanta Braves hold spring training and the kids get to use the same locker rooms, same field, etc!), clinics for things like speed/agility (we saw the sprint clinic while we were there), where they stay, how long they’re there and whether they visit the amusement parks at Walt Disney World, too. Surprisingly, it’s often less expensive to stay on Disney property because options can be bundled and transportation between the parks, the resorts and the sports complex is included. We found most teams end up paying about $600/player. ESPN offers several fundraising options to help, including ESPN magazine sales (you’re reading it anyway, right?) and Disney vacation raffles (I know this would do well with my friends and the teams keep 75% of funds raised).
The video below explains what makes this place so different from other sports complexes where your kids can compete. Kinda makes me want to be a kid again…or at least a Team Mom who brings her players for a showdown.
Highlights at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex:
Welcome Center with Concierge – here you can organize dinners out as a team, get park passes (including discounts for tickets bought the same day for entry after 2pm), set up golf tee times, find transportation tips, create cheer posters and celebration buttons
Foods delivered to your team – you can order meals in advance that are healthy and taken right to your team
Playstation Pavilion – 17 game stations where even the non-athletes can have some fun
Festival Center – a shaded area where team mom meetings are held and activities are offered from an obstacle course, games like corn hole, movie screenings and character greetings.
Office Max Recharge – an office where you can recharge any device (and they have the chargers there!)
Josten’s Center – indoor arena with options that included more courts than I could count
Champion Custom Tee Center – you can design your own t-shirts
HP Field House – offers game day photos (for $169 you can have a professional photographer shoot an entire game and get highlight photos of every player on the field!), a panoramic team photo, or be on the cover of ESPN magazine
New Balance Track & Field Complex – this is where the sprint training and speed training take place
Braves Field – this is where the pros play, but also where your kids can play! Neat little tidbit here–it’s built identical to Turner Field in Atlanta, with matching latitude and longitude to make it identical playing conditions for the big guys
and hello… the Broadcast Center!!! These athletes are recorded and game highlights are shown on a dedicated channel in their hotel room. Also, many games are broadcast live on ESPN3.com, so family around the world can watch! Highlights may also appear on other ESPN channels, including SportsCenter!
Yeah, mom…that’s the big time experience that other sports complexes simply can’t, and don’t, offer.
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