Two Teams Join The Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC Bolster

Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic Field

Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Major League Soccer (MLS) teams join MLS Cup Champion Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, Montreal Impact and USL Pro Club Orlando City in the eight-team field at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; Final team expected to be announced soon; Tickets on sale today.

 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

The New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC have joined the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic field at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Red Bulls are coming back to the February event at Walt Disney World in suburban Orlando after winning the event in 2010, while Toronto FC has been a regular participant in the event.

The Red Bulls and Toronto FC join Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, Montreal Impact and Orlando City soccer clubs in the eight-team field. Teams will begin arriving in Central Florida on Feb. 19 for three weeks of pre-season training camp and competition, culminating with the Disney Pro Soccer Classic title game on Mar. 1.

 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

In 2013, the New York Red Bulls won their first MLS Supporters’ Shield, given to the team with the most regular season points in the league. Led by international standouts Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, along with Winter Park, FL native Dax McCarty, the Red Bulls have qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs 10 of the last 11 seasons.

 Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Toronto FC is looking to rebuild this season under second-year head coach Ryan Nelsen. Toronto FC is led by forward Robert Earnshaw, who scored eight goals last season.

Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Entering its fifth year, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic is designed to boost interest in soccer throughout Central Florida and establish the area as a prime training and competition destination for pro soccer clubs. Last year, the event at Disney attracted fans from across the U.S. and Canada and gave them a unique opportunity for an intimate fan experience at a world-class facility.

The tournament is just one of more than a dozen popular soccer events held annually at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which is the leading multi-sports venue in the nation and the official preseason training home of the AS Roma soccer club.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAfeGo3Rl08

For more information on the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, visit www.espnwwos.com/prosoccerclassic. Tickets for the event are on sale today through Ticketmaster.com, search “Pro Soccer Classic” or by calling 800-745-3000. Travel packages are available through GetTravel.com. The packages may include accommodations near Walt Disney World Resort, game tickets, ground transportation and discounted Disney theme park tickets.

 

ESPN Wide World of Sports

About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 350 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the nation, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries.  Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 230-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including Champion Stadium, the HP Field House, the Jostens Center, the Hess Sports Fields, a track & field facility, a tennis complex and a baseball/softball sportsplex. It is also home to the ESPN Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology Group that develops ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom.  In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, which can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex.  The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art HD production center with direct links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles.  For more information, visit www.disneysportsnews.com for press releases, photos and videos.

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Orlando City Returns For Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Orlando City and Defending Champion Montreal Impact Return for Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

Lions and Impact among first to commit to the February soccer event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; Additional teams expected to be announced soon 

Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact and local favorite Orlando City Soccer Club will compete in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex this spring. Additional teams will be announced in the next several weeks.

Montreal, which returns for its third straight appearance in the tournament (Feb. 19 – Mar. 1), is back to defend the Disney Pro Soccer Classic title it won over the Columbus Crew a year ago when it blazed through the event undefeated. Montreal is led by Marco Di Vaio, who was third in the league in goals scored last year with 20.

In just three USL-Pro seasons, the Orlando City Lions have won two regular-season titles and two postseason championships, including last year’s championship. This will be the club’s fourth straight appearance in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, which will sort of be home games for the Lions because they will play their final USL-Pro season home games at ESPN Wide World of Sports this spring before joining the MLS in 2015.

httpv://youtu.be/lAfeGo3Rl08

“We are delighted to once again be competing in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic,’’ said Phil Rawlins, president of Orlando City Soccer Club. “Over the past three years, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic has proved invaluable in giving us game time against the very best teams in North America and preparing our players for the season ahead.”

“We’re excited to have two marquee teams to be among the first to participate in the Pro Soccer Classic. We fully expect this to be the best field in the Pro Soccer Classic’s history. This tournament further shows we are committed to the sport of soccer and now recognized as one of the top training and competition facilities in the world,” said Mike Millay, Director of Sports Development at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Entering its fifth year, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic is designed to boost interest in soccer throughout Central Florida and establish the area as a prime training and competition destination for pro soccer clubs.  Last year, the event at Disney attracted fans from across the U.S. and Canada and gave them a unique opportunity for an intimate fan experience at a world-class facility.

The tournament is just one of more than a dozen popular soccer events held annually at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which is the leading multi-sports venue in the nation and the official preseason training home of the AS Roma soccer club.

For more information on the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, visit http://espnwwos.disney.go.com. Travel packages are available through GetTravel.com. The packages may include accommodations near Walt Disney World Resort, game tickets, ground transportation, and discounted Disney theme park tickets.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

About ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 350 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the nation, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries.  Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 230-acre facility features multiple competition venues, including Champion Stadium, the HP Field House, the Jostens Center, the Hess Sports Fields, a track & field facility, a tennis complex and a baseball/softball sportsplex. It is also home to the ESPN Innovation Lab, a real-world testing ground for the ESPN Emerging Technology Group that develops ground-breaking on-air products like Ball Track and ESPN Snap Zoom.  In addition, the complex features 56 high-definition cameras and 40 high-definition video screens, including three jumbo screens, which can capture and display footage from any event taking place at the complex.  The camera and video screens, as well as a 20-zone audio system, are controlled through the state-of-the-art HD production center with direct links to ESPN facilities in Bristol, Conn., New York and Los Angeles.  For more information, visitwww.disneysportsnews.com for press releases, photos and videos.  Follow us on Twitter at @DisneySports and on Facebook.

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Orlando City To Play 2014 Season At ESPN Wide World Of Sports

Orlando City Soccer Club to Play 2014 Season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Orlando City Soccer - Weekly Review

2014 season ticket holders guaranteed first choice of seats for 2015 season

Orlando City Soccer Club announced today that the team will play itshomes games at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort during the 2014 season. For the Lions, who aim to finalize plans this year to start play in Major League Soccer (MLS), the complex will serve as a one-year temporary home during renovations of the Florida Citrus Bowl, the Lions’ primary home stadium.

Tickets for the 2014 season will go on sale immediately. Season ticket holders for 2014 receive first choice of seats for the 2015 season, which Orlando City expects to be its inaugural season in MLS.

“We hope our fans are as thrilled as we are to call ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex our home field for the 2014 season,” said Phil Rawlins, president of Orlando City Soccer Club. “With professional sporting event experience, premier soccer fields and world-class amenities, this facility will enable us to play all of our home games in one location and in a venue where our fans will be closer to our players than ever before. We look forward to next year’s possibilities before hopefully heading into MLS for the 2015 season.”

To enhance the experience for spectators, additional stadium seating is planned to surround all four sides of the soccer field at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. With increased capacity of approximately 5,200, the stadium will be one of the largest soccer venues in Central Florida, expanding capacity foreven more fans to attend the Lion’s matches in 2014. Other amenities include free parking and a wide variety of food and beverage offerings.

“The team has really enjoyed playing on top-class, grass surface during Disney’s Pro-Soccer Classic for the past three years,” said Head Coach Adrian Heath. “We’re very excited and hope that our fans will enjoy every match in 2014 from beginning to end.”

The Orlando City games builds on the growing portfolio of professional and youth soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as well as adds to the list of major pro sports events held in recent years at the complex, including the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, Atlanta Braves spring training, the Tampa Bay Bucs training camp, the NBA Pre-Draft Camp and Tampa Bay Rays regular-season games among other events.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The Florida Citrus Bowl is expected to re-open in early 2015 after undergoing more than $200 million in renovations.

For more information on the Lions’ 2014 season, please check OrlandoCitySoccer.com.

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PUMA and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Team Up for Youth Soccer

ESPN Wide World of Sports
ESPN Wide World of Sports

Sportlifestyle brand becomes official equipment sponsor of Disney Soccer at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

 

Sportlifestyle brand PUMA and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort have teamed up in a multi-year agreement that will showcase PUMA soccer and elite soccer players, giving the legions of soccer athletes who compete at the complex early exposure to PUMA’s latest soccer products.

As part of this collaboration, PUMA will become the official soccer equipment sponsor of Disney Soccer, which hosts tournaments for tens of thousands of players from around the globe each year. The agreement also includes a co-branded soccer ball created by PUMA that will be used for all youth tournaments, matches and events at the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex. In addition, PUMA will also help promote Disney Soccer and have a major presence at select soccer events and tournaments including a PUMA retail area offering soccer apparel, footwear and accessories.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Disney Sports on this exciting venture,” said Jay Piccola, President of PUMA North America. “We are looking forward to teaming with one of the country’s leading organizations for world class youth soccer programming and bringing this combination to young soccer players and fans alike.”

The widely acclaimed ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports, providing one-of-a-kind memorable experiences for athletes, coaches and their families. Having hosted more than 8,000 soccer teams, 100,000 athletes and some 200,000 spectators, coaches and enthusiasts over the past five years, Disney Soccer has expanded, becoming the most popular sport at the complex. Disney youth soccer tournaments include elite events such as Disney Soccer Showcase and Disney Cup International and other events, such as Disney Soccer Academy, that are open to all ranges of athletes.

“We’re excited to work with PUMA, which is known for its innovative approach and commitment to athletes who have a passion for soccer,” said Tom Wolber, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. “The addition of PUMA’s soccer equipment will complement the Disney Soccer experience for the athletes who play on our fields.”

As the official soccer equipment sponsor for the facility, PUMA will also host special events at the complex, including PUMA soccer equipment launches and retailer events with appearances from special guests and athletes that will bring their unique take on sport and lifestyle.

For PUMA’s first official event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, PUMA brought the Women’s Elite Showcase to the Disney Cup International event this week. PUMA’s Women’s Elite Showcase brings the nation’s top high-school aged female players and their coaches together for a unique opportunity to play in front of the soccer community and many college scouts. This program is in its third year and for the first time is being played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

To learn more about PUMA’s soccer category go to: www. puma.com/football. You can also get brand updates atfacebook.com/PUMAfootball or follow the brand via Twitter @PUMAfootball, Instagram @PUMAsport and Vine @PUMA. To learn more about Walt Disney Word Resorts visit www.waltdisneyworld.com/about.

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Disney Sports Solutions At ESPN Wide World Of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Playing in a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort is a dream come true for many athletes, and getting there is often a labor of love for Team Parents! Disney Sports Solutions helps make the process so much easier! From fundraising support to photography to custom event merchandise, they have help for you and your team.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Gene Kousoulas, Head Coach of Tappan Zee Softball Team, has brought several teams to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex over the years, and always looks forward to returning.

“The team is always excited to be traveling away from New York, and the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are always great” say Kousoulas.

Mr. Kousoulas also encourages teams to communicate as much as they can with their Disney Travel Coordinators, because they are there to help and are always ready with solutions.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Marybeth our host for the Team Mom Disney Sports Solutions Breakfast.

At a Team Mom Breakfast held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, Marybeth, a specialized Cast Member, helped several Team Moms whose teams were playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex get to know some of the facilities and services offered at the Complex better. Also, they held some pretty great giveaways that were special bonuses for the teams.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Fun Team Mom Breakfast Goodies

The first thing that Marybeth introduced us to was the Welcome Center. The Welcome Center is really the heart and soul of the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It is centrally located in the Complex, and is available to help in any way that they can. At the Welcome Center you’ll find Cast Members who are solutions oriented with extensive training in Sports Travel, Guest Relations, and Event Planning. If you have questions about what to do before and after your competition,  this is your one stop for purchasing Disney Theme Park Tickets, making Disney Dining Reservations, finding Recreation Options, Golf Reservations, Planning Celebration Events, and Transportation Tips just to name a few.

If you are out on the fields and need information, help is never too far from even the outermost field! Welcome Center Cast Members are always at the fields and for larger events there are mobile stations set-up around the complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Welcome Center is an amazing tool for teams visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

There are several dining options at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but for busy teams on the go there are several ways to make sure that your team is fueled with healthy food that doesn’t take away from their time at the Complex. The first option available is box breakfasts and lunches. These meals are made fresh daily ($6.99 per breakfast and $7.99 per lunch), can be ordered online prior to arrival, are customizable for team members with allergies, and most importantly can be delivered directly to the field where you are playing.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Box lunches being distributed at ESPN Wide World of Sports fields.

We got to have a breakfast box during the Team Mom Breakfast, and it was a good amount of food that was great fuel for the day. However, you can also have pizzas delivered to your field, there are several quick service options, and there is always the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Our Box Breakfast was a great way to start the morning.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a quick-service restaurant located near the entrance of the Complex. The Grill is perfect for large groups, and is a high energy environment with six HD displays playing sports and sports news, a full-service bar, and even a replica of the ESPN SportsCenter Desk for fun photo opportunities for your team! My favorite feature is the bank of Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines…but I am a sucker for Cherry Coke!!!

ESPN Wide World of Sports Gameday Photos provides teams with photo solutions that are extremely unique and high quality!

 ESPN Wide World of Sports
Josh Shortened is one of the Gameday Photographers at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The Gameday Photos photographers are highly trained to catch just the right moment in your athlete’s game, and are available for individual or team pictures. The best part of the Gameday Photography is that once you purchase the CD of images, which are guaranteed to have at least 150 photos, the rights to those pictures are yours and you can print out and share them as much as you can with friends and family!

If you want to take part in this really personal photography experience, you will want to make arrangements in advance. It is also important to know that the sessions are pre-paid and scheduled by the game, however there are multiple game discounts available. Individual Gameday Photos start at $99 for a single game and Team Gameday Photos start at $169 for a single game.

Events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are recorded and broadcasted in several different ways to really make athletes feel like they have really made it to the big leagues!

The dedicated video department at Wide World of Sports is truly a Disney-Sized ESPN with a control room, editing bays, and bustling camera operators. It is truly an amazing thing to see!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Inside the Broadcast Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Parents, coaches, and athletes are able to watch game highlights on a channel 25 in their Walt Disney World Resort hotel room, often games are broadcasted live on ESPN3.com, and highlights are shown on various ESPN platforms such as ESPN.com, ESPN2, and SportsCenter.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Information, live event coverage, and more are featured on screens all over ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Sharing your video highlights with friends and family at home is also easy, because ESPN Wide World of Sports makes some event games available on their YouTube channel and their Facebook Page.

The Custom Tee Center by Champion® is a way to customize your experience at the ESPN Wide World of Sports! After purchasing an event or customizable t-shirt, visit the Custom Tee Center by Champion® to really make the shirt your own. With more than 50 designs available to commemorate your accomplishments, the Center located inside the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a must-do in the Complex!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

A visit to the Playstation® Pavilionis a great way to keep the game going! These seventeen PS3™ systems on 40-inch HDTVs are fully stocked with new game titles. The cost to play is $5 per 30 minutes, and is a fun way to wind down from an exciting event.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Business Center coming soon, and will provide access to computers, printers, charging stations, etc, for those busy parents and coaches who want to communicate about their team’s competition through email, websites, social media, and keep up with their careers while on the road.

The Disney Parks Mom’s Panel is a great way to get pre-arrival planning advice from two ESPN Wide World of Sports Specialists. These Mom’s Panel members provide team moms and coaches with tips, advice and direction to make their youth sports travel easier.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Hess Fields were busy with the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout

I got to speak with Angie Gregg from Hummelstown, PA, whose daughters love Disney and have competed in several soccer tournaments, and even won the Disney’s President Day Festival in February 2012, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports!

Angie’s family loves how they can add extra days on to their team stay to make these tournaments into vacation opportunities for the whole family. She also encourages Team Moms to play a year ahead for their fundraising events to ensure that as many team members as possible can make the journey for this amazing sports opportunity.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports team understands how important Fundraising is to teams, and offers a wide variety of Fundraising Assistance Programs.

The Dream Team Donation Program – Teams are given the opportunity to raffle off a Disney vacation as well as keep 75% of proceeds from raffle ticket sales. Teams also have the opportunity to sell ESPN The Magazine subscriptions and keep 75% of all profits. And a rebate program with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car which allows a team to earn fundraising dollars by gaining 5% of every rental car purchase through the team’s fundraiser site

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Baseball in Champion Stadium are always exciting.

Equipment Drop-off is a really great service that ESPN Wide World of Sports offers! Coaches can drop off their team’s equipment at the front of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it will be delivered to the team’s field of play.

Little Champions program offers fun games and activities available on-site for younger siblings, freeing parents and coaches up so they can stay focus on the competition.

With so many great Disney Sports Solutions, beautiful grounds, and helpful Cast Members at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex it is easy to see why it is a premier sporting destination that you will definitely want to check out!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

 

 

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ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Overview

Many of us see the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and think of it as the place where we pick up our RunDisney Race Packets or where the Atlanta Braves hold their Spring Training each year, but this often overlooked part of the Walt Disney World Resort plays home to much, much more!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Walking past the globe and up to the gates, you find yourself immersed into a world of sports…no pun intended. But it is really amazing to see so many talented kids and adults in one place playing the games they love!

When you first walk up to the complex, you will notice that there is a large Box Office where you can purchase your tickets for events at the complex. It is important to note that guests, who are not athletes or coaches participating in an event, require paid admission for entrance.  General admission prices for Adults (Ages 10+) $16.00 and Children (Ages 3-9) $11.00, and for many events length-of-event admission tickets are available. Also Premium and Special Events may require additional charges. If you are planning on visiting the complex for a specific event, you can go to the ESPN Wide World of Sports site, and search by event for ticket options.

The one thing that totally blew my mind when I visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is just how many venues they have for almost any sport imaginable!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Hess Fields were busy with the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout

The first thing I think of when I think of ESPN Wide World of Sports, is their fields, all 28 of them, that feature surfaces for signature sports. For baseball, there is the Baseball Quadraplex which is home to four professional sized fields and one practice field. Fields 7 and 9 are more versatile grass playing surfaces for soccer. In Diamondplex 10-15 you will find baseball and fastpitch softball fields. While the Hess® Fields 16-30 feature versatile grass playing surfaces for sports including soccer, baseball, field hockey, and lacrosse.

Champion® Stadium is Disney’s Big League Stadium, and is home to the Atlanta Braves Spring Training. This stadium is also used for baseball and fastpitch softball. It is a great stadium! It’s just the right size to make you feel like you are at a big-time game, while still having the fun and intimate feeling that is so unique to MLB Spring Training!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The HP Field House is where you will also find the larger spectator sports.

The HP Field House is a multi-sport facility; they have even laid down ice for ice skating competitions and ice hockey games! But mostly you will find the HP Field House playing host to cheer, basketball, and volleyball competitions.

The Jostens® Center is another multi-sport facility, and where the RunDisney Expo and Race Packet Pick-Up are usually held. The day I visited ESPN Wide World of Sports, it was host to 6 basketball courts for the AAU Basketball Tournament. It is a HUGE facility that is also home to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill and Custom Tee Center by Champion®.

The New Balance Track and Field Complex is a Premier competition and training facility for state, national, and international events. If you ran in the Run Disney Tower of Terror 10-miler, this is where the Haunted Mansion Grave Diggers were waiting for us.

And finally, at the Tennis Complex you will find ten clay courts, including a stadium court! These courts can accommodate anything from a youth clinic to a professional tournament.

If you think that getting around the ESPN Wide World of Sports would be confusing and overwhelming you would be wrong!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

With the Welcome Center conveniently located in the heart of the complex, you are never far from help! In the Welcome Center, you will find Cast Members who are extremely knowledgeable about not only the Complex but all of the Walt Disney World Resort. You can do anything from finding event information to purchasing tickets (even for La Nouba) to help scheduling large group reservations and activities. And if you happen to be far away from the Welcome Center, there are several mobile units and Cast Members deployed to fields around the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports also makes use of video displays throughout the complex. There are also four screen hubs, where four large LED monitors show you event highlights, information, weather, and general information about the complex. These hubs are soooo useful, and if you are lucky you might even catch your team featured in the highlights!

Also, for events you will find maps where you least expect to find them…on the ground giving you an easy way to find your field or venue!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

If you want to grab a bite to eat, you have a ton of options!

The most fun option is that you can have pizza delivered to your field. Seriously…how cool is that???

You will also find a mobile ESPN Food Truck where you can buy anything from a snack to a beer, and when the Complex is really busy you will even find local food trucks!

Also, inside of the HP® Field House there is an almost mini-food court with several options available.

But if you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, you may want to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill. You’ll find Burgers, Salads, sandwiches, and even a full service bar to relax in after a fun event. They have coke freestyle machines inside the Grill, which is always a fun bonus!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The full service bar at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill.

There are also three really unique offerings at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The first is the Custom Tee Center by Champion® where you can customize an event T-shirt with more than 50 designs available to commemorate your accomplishment or you can design your own shirt, like I did! This is a really cool area of ESPN Wide World of Sports, and one that you definitely don’t just want to pass by! I opted to make a shirt that was perfect for training for my upcoming RunDisney races, but there were tons of other shirt styles and designs I could have chosen from. For me, the best part is that the shirts are ready in a snap (mine was ready in about 30 minutes) and if you can’t pick up your shirt until the next day they make sure it stays safe until you can come and get it from the Tee Center.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

The second really amazing service offered at ESPN Wide World of Sports is the Gameday Photo Experience. Here you can view your Gameday Photos, create custom photo keepsakes, and take amazing green screen pictures. You can even make posters and fully personalized ESPN The Magazine covers. The quality of these photo products are incredibly high and they are produced with little to no turnaround. It really is perfect for the hectic schedule of sporting events.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Also, you will find the PlayStation Pavilion where athletes between and after games can wind down by playing the ultimate PS3® gaming experience. There is an additional charge to use this area, but it is a great way to bring a team together or celebrate a big win!

As you can see, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is much more than what meets the eye and I can’t wait to share more about teams can make the most of their time at the Complex and how to make sure you don’t miss any great opportunities to visit.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Training in the Grapefruit League

Spring Training Braves Mickey
Spring Training Braves Mickey

Spring training is one of my absolute favorite things about living in Florida. I am fortunate enough to have over half a dozen Major League Baseball teams that have their spring training facilities within about an hour of where I live. For those who aren’t familiar, professional baseball teams are split into two leagues for preseason training: the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League here in Florida.

The nearest stadium for me is the Pittsburgh Pirates home at McKechnie Field here in Bradenton, which is less than two miles from my house. This is probably one of the two stadiums where I have attended the most games in the past 15 years living in Florida. The other most visited field for me is Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World where my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, have their home field. It is really nice having access to baseball so close to home. I was even able to meet my favorite player Chipper Jones just five minutes from my house during spring training!

Chipper Jones at Spring Training

Chipper at third
Chipper at third
Chipper at bat
Chipper at bat
Chipper swinging
Chipper swinging
Chipper hitting a home run
Chipper hitting a home run
Chipper rounding third
Chipper rounding third
Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones
Chipper Jones signing my game ticket
Chipper Jones signing my game ticket
Chipper Jones and Terry Pendleton signed my ticket
Chipper Jones and Terry Pendleton signed my ticket

One of the best things about spring training is the accessibility to the players. Often times the stadiums are smaller and more intimate than their regular season counterparts. This provides fans with closer seats to the field usually and more opportunities to meet and get autographs from your favorite players. Spring training is a great chance to travel around the state and experience different stadiums and also to get to see up and coming players before they make it to the big show.

Of the 15 teams that currently train in the Grapefruit League, I’ve been to five of the stadiums for spring training games over the years. Eventually, I would love to travel around to see games in each of the stadiums around the state since all are within a two to three hour drive from my home. This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Braves play the Mets at home in Lake Buena Vista, then saw the Nationals host the Astros in Viera. It was a fantastic weekend filled with great baseball and got me even more excited for regular season to start in a few weeks. I owe a big thank you to the Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism for hosting us at the Nationals game!

The Braves game was extra special as the weekend’s games were themed after Star Wars! I was so stoked when I first heard this announced and even started planning how I was going to incorporate both the Star Wars and Braves into my attire for the game. It was so cool how they brought in Star Wars characters at the beginning of the game like Chewbacca to cheer on the ceremonial first pitch. Darth Vader decided he needed to have a pep talk with the umps while Stormtroopers guarded the Braves dugout. The Disney characters even got into the spirit with Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy and Stormtrooper Donald all making appearances at the 7th inning stretch to lead the singalong of Take Me Out To The Ball Game while accompanied by the X Wing Fighter Pilot Saxophone Quarter. All in all it was definitely an enhanced experience that I’d love to see Disney Sports continue.

Braves game

Ready to represent Star Wars and the Braves
Ready to represent Star Wars and the Braves
ESPN Wide World of Sports
ESPN Wide World of Sports
Jedi Mickey posing with a youth team before the game
Jedi Mickey posing with a youth team before the game
Chewbacca cheering on the ceremonial first pitch
Chewbacca cheering on the ceremonial first pitch
Fireworks to start the game
Fireworks to start the game
Darth Vader overseeing the umpires
Darth Vader overseeing the umpires
Stormtroopers guarding the Braves dugout
Stormtroopers guarding the Braves dugout
Beautiful day for baseball at Champion Stadium
Beautiful day for baseball at Champion Stadium
X Wing Fighter Pilot Saxophone Quartet
X Wing Fighter Pilot Saxophone Quartet
Fireworks after Freddie Freeman home run
Fireworks after Freddie Freeman home run
Tim Hudson on deck
Tim Hudson on deck
Pretzel and cheese sauce
Pretzel and cheese sauce
Baseball and beer
Baseball and beer
Jedi Mickey and the gang singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game
Jedi Mickey and the gang singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game
Me with Hall of Famer Don Sutton in the background
Me with Hall of Famer Don Sutton in the background
Kids got to run the bases after the game and high five Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy and Stormtrooper Donald
Kids got to run the bases after the game and high five Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy and Stormtrooper Donald

Nationals game

This is not the Casey's Corner I'm used to - at the Nationals game
This is not the Casey’s Corner I’m used to – at the Nationals game
Elevator leading up to the skybox
Elevator leading up to the skybox
Nationals
Nationals
Another gorgeous day for baseball
Another gorgeous day for baseball
Couple that threw out the ceremonial first pitch got engaged on the field
Couple that threw out the ceremonial first pitch got engaged on the field
Stephen Strasburg's first pitch for the Nationals
Stephen Strasburg’s first pitch for the Nationals
Former Brave Adam LaRoche on deck for the Nationals
Former Brave Adam LaRoche on deck for the Nationals
Sun starting to set at Space Coast Stadium
Sun starting to set at Space Coast Stadium

If you get an opportunity to head to Florida in the month of March, please come visit one of the great spring training facilities the Grapefruit League has to offer. Tickets are often very affordable, especially in comparison to regular season games. Who knows, if you’re lucky, you may even get to meet and get an autograph from your favorite player just minutes after you see him hit a home run. Have you been to spring training in Florida before? What are some of your favorite things about it?

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Atlanta Braves Spring Training at ESPN Wide World Of Sports

This year the Atlanta Braves return to ESPN Wide World of Sports to play their Spring Training games in Champion Stadium for the 16th year. It’s a really great chance to see some of your favorite teams play some Spring Ball.

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

I grew up an Atlanta Brave’s fan, I even had a pretty sweet Dale Murphy poster in my room, and having their Spring Training games so close to me makes me giddy!

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

The Atlanta Braves have a full and awesome Spring Training Schedule this year, and even if the Atlanta Braves aren’t ‘your’ team chances are they might be visiting Champion Stadium for a game!

Friday, March 1 Washington Nationals

6:05 PM

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Sunday, March 3 Detroit Tigers

1:05 PM

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Thursday, March 7 Detroit Tigers

6:05 PM

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Friday, March 8 Toronto Blue Jays *SS

1:05 PM

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Sunday, March 10 Miami Marlins

1:05 PM

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Tuesday, March 12 St. Louis Cardinals

1:05 PM

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Friday, March 15 New York Mets

1:05 PM

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Saturday, March 16 New York Yankees

5:05 PM

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Monday, March 18 Philadelphia Phillies

1:05 PM

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Wednesday, March 20 Pittsburgh Pirates

1:05 PM

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Thursday, March 21 Washington Nationals

6:05 PM

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Saturday, March 23 Houston Astros *SS

1:05 PM

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Monday, March 25 New York Mets

1:05 PM

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Thursday, March 28 Houston Astros

1:05 PM

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*SS – Split Squad

In addition to the regular Spring Training games, for the first time there will be themed games to help bring a little bit of pixie dust and magic to the following games:

Mar 10 – Princess & Pirate

Mar 15 – Star Wars

Mar 16 – Star Wars

Mar 21 – Princess & Pirate

Mar 23 – Salute To Our Troops

For these games, everyone is encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters!

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

When we visited Champion Stadium for the Brave’s first game of Spring Training, I was really excited to be able to be so close to the Brave’s Dugout! There are a ton of great ticket options available to see the games! Viewing the Champion Stadium seating chart is a great place to start with deciding on which ticket option is the best for your family. And during the game, there are a ton of fun games and trivia challenges that you can participate in to win tickets, fast passes, and other goodies!

I have to say that there is some pretty sweet Atlanta Braves Spring Training merchandise available at the games! I had to walk away quickly before I bought out the whole store!!! I love how the merchandise pays homage to Florida’s Spring Training history and is super fun!

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Atlanta Braves Spring Training

Here are some things you might want to keep in mind as you make your way to Champion Stadium to see an Atlanta Brave’s Spring Training Game:

  • Make sure that you keep hydrated (and no beer doesn’t fully count), wear sunscreen, and dress appropriately, because you will be in the sun for quite some time!
  • Items NOT Allowed (NOTE: All bags will be inspected prior to entering the park)
    • no outside food or drinks
    • no coolers
    • no containers
    • no umbrellas
    • no lawn chairs
    • no banners
    • no flags
    • no weapons
  • Smoking Policy: Smoking not allowed in seats or concourse area. Smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas.
  • Children: All ages are welcome. Ages 0-2 admitted free on ticket holder’s lap (no ticket required). A ticket is required for all children 3 and older.
  • Box Office Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Will Call: Located at Guest Services (left-hand side of the main entrance). Opens 2 hour prior to the game. Customer must present the actual credit card used for the purchase, a photo ID and Ticketmaster order number in order to receive tickets.
  • Parking: General parking at ESPN Wide World of Sports is complimentary, however valet parking will be available for $20. I normally skip the valet parking, but I strongly encourage you to think about this option as parking can sometimes be hectic since ESPN WWoS stays busy!!!

httpv://youtu.be/2nYVG_NVIyU

I hope that you will travel out to ESPN Wide World of Sports to catch an Atlant Braves Spring Training game!!! I know that I will be back to take Zoe to her first Atlanta Braves Spring Training game!!!

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AS Roma Winter Training at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Saturday Italian football club AS Roma began their inaugural Winter Training Session at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the club’s inaugural winter training, December 29, 2012 through January 1, 2013.

AS Roma
AS Roma captain Francesco Totti takes a shot on goal during winter training December 29, 2012 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Totti and the three-time Serie A-champion AS Roma club are in their first year training at Walt Disney World Resort. (Ali Nasser, photographer)

As part of a six-year partnership with Disney, the three-time Italian Serie A champions hold training sessions open to the public, in conjunction with Disney’s Soccer Showcase, the premier youth soccer tournament for college recruitment in the United States.

AS Roma

“The facilities are tremendously impressive,” said Franco Baldini, director general of football operations for AS Roma. “The ability to come here to train at this state-of-the-art complex in good weather during the Serie A winter break will be a big advantage.”

AS Roma’s involvement underscores the sports complex’s stature as the nation’s top youth soccer venue, which annually hosts pro soccer events as well as many of the country’s most prestigious youth soccer tournaments.

AS Roma
Players from AS Roma warm up before their winter training practice session at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on December 29, 2012. The three-time Serie A-champion AS Roma club is in its first year training at Walt Disney World Resort. (Ali Nasser, photographer)

The joint venture also integrates the Italian football club, winner of nine Coppa Italia titles and two Supercoppa Italiana crowns, into the U.S. youth soccer market, where it hopes to expand its fan base.

Part of their Saturday training session, included a 30 minute clinic with two teams participating in Disney’s Soccer Showcase. It was really great to watch these professional soccer players share their love of the game and techniques with these young players.

AS Roma
Youth athletes from Orlando FC America (girls) and Concorde Fire of Georgia are joined by members of AS Roma during a special clinic December 29, 2012 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The two youth clubs are participating in Disney’s Soccer Showcase, which runs at the same time at AS Roma’s winter training at Walt Disney World Resort. (Ali Nasser, photographer)

All AS Roma training sessions are open to the public with paid admission to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, daily admission is $16.00 (ages 10 & older) and $11.00 (ages 3-9). This is really a unique experience to see amazing soccer in an intimate setting, because you can watch from the sidelines! If you are looking for the AS Roma team, check here.

If you are a soccer fan or have little ones that play soccer, you will definitely want to swing by and take in a training session!

You can find some pictures that I took on our Facebook page here!

 

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