Famed Italian football club AS Roma is teaming up with ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. As part of the new agreement, the sports complex becomes the official winter training home of the three-time Serie A champions, along with AS Roma serving as presenting sponsor of several Disney-owned youth soccer events. The Rome-based professional team will also have one of its youth academy teams compete in Disney’s Soccer Showcase.
Franco Baldini (photo, right), director general of football operations for AS Roma, and the club’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Pannes (photo, left) recently visited the 270-acre multi-sport complex, and anticipate many benefits to training at Walt Disney World Resort.
“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.
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.
Over the weekend, Atlanta Braves spring training, in its 15th year at Disney, enjoyed a pair of visits from two big NFL names – both literally and figuratively. On Sunday, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher got the Braves-Blue Jays game off on the right foot, firing a perfect first pitch strike to Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy. With the help from a couple Disney friends, of course.
One day earlier, as the Yankees came to town, New England Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis attended his first-ever baseball game, and showed he’s got the natural skill set to have been a two-sport star himself.
Braves spring training at Walt Disney World Resort runs through April 2. New this year is the for Family Field Day Package (four lawn tickets, four hotdogs, four bottled sodas and four chips) for $69 – available for the following dates: March 16, 17, 18 or 30, or April 2. For more information visit espnwwos.com, or call 407-939-GAME.
The fact that she was able to run three yards, let alone 3.1 miles, made her unique when you consider that it was about this time last year when she was in a car accident near her hometown of Winter Haven, Fla., that left her as a virtual quadriplegic. A C-3 incomplete spinal cord injury is what doctors called it that day in April when she was rushed to Lakeland Regional Hospital. She couldn’t move her arms and could barely move her legs.
Yet, after several months of exhaustive and painful rehabilitation at Shepherd Center, she regained the use of arms and legs and set a goal of running in the 5K during Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Her doctors called it “remarkable.’’ I would argue it was a little magical too. I mean, this is the place where dreams come true, right?
In typical Disney fashion, her entire rehab team decided to run with her. And yes, they all finished the race. Together.
Say this for Rachel Booth: she sure knows how to make a grand entrance.
Booth of Mandeville, La., signed up to run her first Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World Resort this weekend and made quite an impression by not only winning the 13.1-mile race in record time but she also achieved a “coast-to-coast’’ milestone. The reigning two-time winner of the Disneyland Half Marathon in Anaheim, Ca., Booth became the first person to capture women’s titles at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.
It was quite a feat. Booth didn’t just win; she dominated, leading the race from start to finish. In fact, she likened the race to a “good morning run.’’ About the only thing she didn’t do Sunday was beat herself. Her winning time of 1:18:11 was just a tad slower than her winning time of 1:18:01 at the Disneyland Half Marathon last fall.
Still, she crossed the finish line amid a blizzards of confetti, music, cheers and Mickey and Minnie Mouse. And in typical Disney storybook fashion, it wasn’t the record time or the bi-coastal milestone that mattered to her the most, but rather having her family – her husband, daughter and son – on hand that made the moment memorable.
“This was a lot of fun to have my two children there to enjoy the whole experience and just to see mommy cross the finish line with Minnie and Mickey,” Booth said. “…It definitely has a little bit of a special place in my heart.’’
At the sports complex here at Walt Disney World Resort, fans will get to see eight pro soccer teams, including Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup finalist the Houston Dynamo and reigning USL Champion Orlando City Soccer. That’s twice as many teams competing as last year. The other MLS league teams are Sporting KC, FC Dallas, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who will be joined this year for the first time by Sweden’s B.K. Hacken.
This pre-season event starts Friday with an MLS Eastern Conference rematch between Houston and Sporting KC – the first time the two have faced each other since last season’s playoffs. The championship game is Saturday March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets and at the sports complex box office.
If you can’t make it out to the sports complex for the games, check out the action online as all games will be streamed live on MLSsoccer.com except for the championship game which will be shown on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s new broadband channel.
UPDATE: We have reached capacity! Thanks for everyone’s interest in the Princess Half Marathon Weekend Meet-Up Event, and appreciate your quick responses. By 3 p.m. ET, we will send the meet-up attendees a confirmation email. Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for additional unique opportunities in the future.
If you’re looking to gain tips and training advice from Galloway, he will also be available at the upcoming Expo on Friday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET and Saturday at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET. Also, there is additional Galloway training information at www.runDisney.com.
On Friday, Feb. 24, we will host 80 participants featuring two-time Disneyland Half Marathon winner Rachel Booth, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele and Fitness magazine editor-in-chief Betty Wong, who will share their wisdom and knowledge about running, fitness and women’s health. There will also be the traditional short training run with runDisney training consultant Jeff Galloway as well as several cool, fun surprises.
If you want to be a part of all of the fun, RSVP right now to WDW.SportsMeetUps@Disney.com. Only 80 qualified runners will be selected to participate, so be one of the first to apply.
In the meantime, here are a few things you should know:
All participants must be available for a 7 a.m. ET start time on Friday, Feb. 24.
Qualified applicants will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.
A valid ID is required. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.
Limit to one RSVP per email address.
Valid RSVPs must include your name. RSVPs that include more than one person or are missing information (e.g. incomplete names) will not be accepted.
Admittance to the event is non-transferable and limited to the selected applicant; no additional guests please.
The event and individual appearances are subject to change or cancellation.
Because this is a running-oriented event, we ask that applicants be experienced runners, able to maintain a 12-minute per mile pace.
Selected applicants attending the meet-up are not required to purchase admission.
We will send an email to selected applicants who sent their valid RSVP via email before we reached capacity to confirm their attendance for Friday. We plan to send this email at approximately 2 p.m. ET today, and we will also post a link on the Disney Parks Blog that will include a list of names of all selected runners. If you do not receive an email from us confirming your reservation and your name does not appear on the list of selected applicants, your RSVP was not selected.
After telling the world Sunday night after the Super Bowl that he was coming to Walt Disney World Resort, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning did just that today.
Manning flew here straight from Indianapolis and arrived at the Magic Kingdom Park where he celebrated the Giants’ super victory with a grand parade down Main Street, U.S.A. Afterward he played around with Mickey and Minnie and some NFL Youth players. If you didn’t catch a glimpse of him, here are some photos from his visit this afternoon.
UPDATE: Eli Manning is planning to celebrate the big win at the Walt Disney World Resort on Monday. What question would you like to ask the Super Bowl MVP before the grand parade scheduled for 1:20 p.m.? Let us know in the comments and then watch the Disney Parks Blog for your answer.
As I stood there inside Lucas Oil Stadium while Eli Manning reveled in his team’s Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots, I knew that he was also thinking about being somewhere else. As the confetti and hoopla swirled around us, Eli let the rest of the world in on his private post-game plans, so now I can tell you too: Eli Manning is planning to come to Walt Disney World Resort!
Eli stared into a TV camera and shouted those famous words – “I’m going to Disney World!” It was the 45th time a superstar athlete or celebrity has screamed that line that will be part of the now iconic Super Bowl commercial airing nationally over the next several days.
Eli will be whisked to Walt Disney World Resort on Monday to toast the team’s 21-17 win with a grand parade down Main Street, U.S.A., in Magic Kingdom Park. He will also interact with some NFL Youth kids and maybe experience an attraction or two, creating some lasting Disney memories just like millions of guests at Disney Parks all around the world. Then he’ll jet back home where undoubtedly the Super Bowl celebrations will continue.
So how do we pull this whole thing off? Well, that’s one secret I’m going to keep to myself.
Kellie Nickerson – complete with fairy wings and a green tutu – flew away from the field to win the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon at the Disneyland Resort today. Nickerson traveled from Albuquerque, N.M., to capture her first win at a runDisney race with a finish time of 1:27:52, just ahead of Sharon Wilkinson of Winnetka, Calif., (1:28:18) and Stacy Schafer from Carlsbad, Calif. (1:28:54).
The Tinker Bell Half Marathon, hosted by the city of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort, led participants on a 13.1-mile trek through Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, as well as by several Anaheim landmarks. The first-year event featured music, entertainment, Disney characters and costumed runners donning fairy wings and plenty of pixie dust. Finishers received a commemorative Tinker Bell “wings’’ medal.
TV sitcom star Megyn Price (“Rules of Engagement”) and “Goonies,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Rudy” star Sean Astin were among the 12,000-plus registered runners to take part in this morning’s race.