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Walt Disney World Resort is Home to a Variety of Sports This Spring

posted on February 21st, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


Home to four theme parks, two water parks and 26 resort hotels, not only is Walt Disney World Resort where guests come to vacation, it’s also where they come to compete in various sporting events and watch their favorite athletes from around the world.

Walt Disney World Resort hosts everything from baseball and soccer to marathons and track & field, with more than 300 events throughout the year for professional athletes, youth players and everyone in between. Teams and fans from around the world come to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to watch, train, compete and play in the middle of the magic at Walt Disney World Resort.

This week, the Atlanta Braves began spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with their first full-squad workout of the season. While on vacation, Disney fans and Braves fans alike can watch the defending National League East champions as they embark on their 17th spring training season and play 17 home games starting February 26 against the Detroit Tigers at Walt Disney World Resort’s Champion Stadium.

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Coming up this weekend, Walt Disney World Resort will host a runDisney race — The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. More than 24,000 runners, mostly women and girls, will embark on a 13.1 mile journey through Epcot and Magic Kingdom Park as Disney Princesses, Disney characters, bands and fans cheer them on.

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For soccer fans, another professional athletic event that guests can attend is the Disney Pro Soccer Classic where eight pro soccer clubs, including six Major League Soccer squads, are now competing. The tournament culminates on March 1 with a championship game. Fans of all ages can come out to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to see several players who may be competing in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.

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And now through April, high school teams across seven sports—baseball, softball, track & field, lacrosse, tennis, golf and rugby—will participate in the Disney Spring Training program. Many of the teams come from places where there’s snow on the ground and freezing temperatures to spend their spring break training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and enjoying everything the resort has to offer.

With an unparalleled roster of facilities and partners, and the backdrop of the top vacation destination—Walt Disney World Resort — Disney Sports takes sports and competition to the next level for athletes and fans alike. To find out more about these events and other upcoming sporting events, where you can watch the pros or participate, visit espnwwos.disney.go.com. For more information on runDisney races, visit www.runDisney.com.

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Target Practice: Orlando City SC Preps for Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic

posted on February 18th, 2014 by Faron Kelley, Director, Marketing & Communications, Disney Sports


At ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, soccer athletes of all ages and abilities can get their kicks during open registration tournaments, soccer camps, seasonal showcases and more. Even our own kicking correspondent, Gary, was recently able to put his “unique” skillset to the test with the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic beginning this week.

Gary always wanted to live out his dream as a professional goalie. Lucky for him, Orlando City Soccer Club greats Rob Valentino, Austin Da Luz and Dennis Chin were on hand to make his wish come true. So how did he measure up? Well, see for yourself:

The fifth edition of Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic runs February 19 – March 1 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Orlando City SC will compete against top-flight foes including Sporting KC, the New York Red Bulls and one of Brazil’s most adored clubs, Fluminense FC.

Visit espnwwos.com for the full schedule, dates and match times.

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Atlanta Braves Getting Ready to Play Ball at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on February 13th, 2014 by Darrell Fry, Sports Media Director, Walt Disney World


It’s time to grab your baseball glove and some peanuts and get ready for Major League Baseball Spring Training again.

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The Atlanta Braves are arriving at Walt Disney World Resort this week for the 17th straight spring, and begin their first workouts this Friday at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. After a couple of weeks of training, the team opens its spring home game schedule on February 26 against the Detroit Tigers.

As usual, fans attending the Braves’ 17-game home schedule will see a parade of the league’s marquee clubs, including the reigning World Series champion Boston Red Sox (March 22), the New York Yankees (March 19) and the St. Louis Cardinals (March 15). The Braves close out their spring home schedule on March 26 against the Marlins, then head back to Atlanta to get ready for the regular season where they look to defend their National League East title.

Braves spring training games at Walt Disney World Resort are, of course, unlike any other spring games. There are fireworks during the singing of the National Anthem at various games, Disney character appearances, and kids are invited down onto the field to run the bases after each game. That’s why we call it America’s most magical pastime.

Fans can get more information and purchase tickets at espnwwos.com/atlantabraves or at the ballpark box office.

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Sneak Peek of Disney 365 Live Video Shoot at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with Disney Channel Star Jake Short

posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Faron Kelley, Director, Marketing & Communications, Disney Sports


Jake Short stars as Fletcher Quimby in the Disney Channel Original Series “A.N.T. Farm,” but when he isn’t in front of the camera he loves to play soccer! Short is a regional all-star player who had the opportunity to visit ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex this past weekend during Disney 3v3 Soccer Championships. Former professional soccer player and ESPN Analyst, Eddie Rodriguez, served as Short’s guest coach as he got a taste of what it’s like to play in the middle of the magic. Short was taping a Disney 365 special that will air on the Disney Channel in March.

ESPN Wide World of Sports GameDay Photos captured these images to give you a sneak peek of the special.

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We invite you to follow us at espnwwos.com, on ESPNWWOS Facebook and on Twitter @DisneySports for more information on how you can participate in an upcoming event!

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Pop Warner Athletes Win Big at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World

posted on December 19th, 2013 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Last week the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort played host to the 2013 Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships. Sixty-four football teams and more than 400 cheer and dance teams from across the country, including Hawaii, battled their way through regional competitions to experience their “I’m going to Disney World” moment and play for national titles.

In addition to the competition on the field and on the floor, more than 8,700 athletes and 2,000 coaches enjoyed the Pop Warner Celebration Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, a Disney character breakfast, the opportunity to keep up with their studies at the OfficeMax Study Hall, and Disney sports recognized team moms at a Team Parent Information Session.

For 17 years, Pop Warner has called Disney home for Super Bowl week. It is the nation’s largest and oldest youth football, cheer and dance organization, and the only league that requires academic proficiency in order to participate. The NFL Players Association estimates roughly 70 percent of current NFL players, including Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson and Ray Lewis, got their starts playing Pop Warner.

Whether you were a player, cheerleader, dancer, coach or parent, it was a great week of competition, sportsmanship and celebration. Congratulations to all the Pop Warner youth athletes for making it to the big time.

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Actor Gilles Marini Gets His Kicks With Mickey at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on July 24th, 2013 by Gary Buchanan, Social Media Managing Editor


Actor Gilles Marini, who kicked up his heels a few times on “Dancing with the Stars,” got his kicks today at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Mickey Mouse, clad in his favorite soccer uniform, joined in the fitness fun as Gilles demonstrated some of his soccer skills for our cameras and the impromptu crowd that gathered. A big fan of the sport, Gilles has played amateur soccer in California while continuing his successful acting career.

Actor Gilles Marini Gets His Kicks With Mickey at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Born in France, Gilles began his show business career in modeling after serving in the French Army. After a photographer discovered him, Gilles moved to the U.S. following the fulfillment of his military duties. While modeling, he began his acting career and has starred on TV shows, including “Brothers & Sisters” on ABC. He became a fan favorite for his dancing skills on the hit competition series “Dancing with the Stars,” and currently appears on the ABC Family series “Switched at Birth.”

After today’s photo shoot with Mickey, Gilles stayed and took photos with several amateur teams who were arriving to compete in the 2013 Champion ESPN Games.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which hosts more than 300 events a year, is the leading multi-sport venue for amateur and professional sports in the United States, accommodating 70 different sports and athletes from more than 70 countries.

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Drew Brees Passing Academy Kicks Off at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on June 27th, 2013 by Tony Morreale, Sports Public Relations Manager


If anyone knows the excitement of “Going to Disney World,” it’s former Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, who joined in the famous tradition in 2010. The all-pro quarterback is back at Walt Disney World Resort starting today for his inaugural Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7on7 Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The prestigious three-day camp provides a dream-come-true opportunity for aspiring football players, the opportunity to get hands-on instruction from some of the NFL’s top athletes. Along with Brees, the academy also features NFL all-pros Jimmy Graham and Jonathan Vilma and St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

Drew Brees Passing Academy Kicks Off at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex

On Friday and Saturday, the high school athletes immediately put what they have learned to the test by taking part in two days of 7-on-7 competition, a format which has been widely credited with helping accelerate the development of several current young NFL starting quarterbacks and skill position players.

All the fun and games are for a good cause, too. Proceeds from the academy benefit the Brees Dream Foundation. The Brees Dream Foundation was founded in 2003 with a mission to improve the quality of life for cancer patients, and provide care, education and opportunities for children and families in need.

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Soccer Star Kaká and Mickey Mouse Kick It at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on June 12th, 2013 by Tony Morreale, Sports Public Relations Manager


Mickey Mouse welcomed one of the world’s most famous athletes to Walt Disney World Resort this week. Kaká, a midfielder for the European soccer club Real Madrid, along with the Brazilian national team, dropped by ESPN Wide World of Sports to promote Disney Cup International.
Kaká Gave a Quick Soccer Lesson to Mickey and a Couple of his Youth Soccer Friends, Demonstrating Proper Techniques for a Penalty Kick and Corner Kick

While at Disney’s world-class sports facility, Kaká gave a quick soccer lesson to Mickey and a couple of his youth soccer friends, demonstrating proper techniques for a penalty kick and corner kick.

In its 14th year at ESPN Wide World of Sports, the upcoming Disney Cup International presented by AS Roma, will be held July 15-20 and has attracted more than 200 teams from 19 countries.
Soccer Star Kaká and Mickey Mouse kick it at ESPN Wide World of Sports
Off the field, Kaká boasts a monstrous social media presence. He was the first athlete to surpass 10 million followers on Twitter – now at more than 15 million – along with millions more fans on Facebook and Instagram.

To see a couple highlights from his visit, check out the video below that was produced by my fellow Disney Parks Blog author, Bob Hitchcock.

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Team Up with Disney Sports Solutions from ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on June 5th, 2013 by Tony Morreale, Sports Public Relations Manager


ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Recently Developed an Innovative Solution-Oriented Program to Make Nationwide Youth Sports Travel Easier for Families

Millions of kids participate in youth sports across the country each year and that often means traveling to out-of-state tournaments, which can be a logistical monstrous summer of its own for many parents, coaches and team moms. To tackle that problem, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex recently developed an innovative solution-oriented program to make nationwide youth sports travel easier for families.

Disney Sports Solutions leads off with pre-event fundraising assistance, including established programs to leverage Disney and its partners such as ESPN the Magazine and Enterprise. On-site itinerary assistance is available at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Welcome Center so teams can make the most of their trip to Walt Disney World Resort, and a business lounge opening later this month allows parents to stay connected while on the road.

Convenience is the name of the game, too. High quality boxed lunches, pizza, group snacks and stocked coolers can be delivered to your team at Disney’s 255-acre sports complex. Coaches, if you’re tired of lugging your team’s bags to the field, equipment drop off might seem like you’ve arrived at your own New Fantasyland. Disney Sports Solutions will take your equipment at the drop off location and have it delivered to your field of play.

Need help capturing your little star’s big moment? A team of photographers can take hi-res pictures of athletes during games, and parents can watch game highlights on a dedicated channel in their Walt Disney World Resort hotel room. Debuting this summer, the complex will bring the big-time environment of ESPN to the guests like never before with its on-site show, ESPN Wide World of Sports Live.

To follow all this summer’s action, follow @DisneySports and the #DisneySportsFestival hashtag.

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on April 1st, 2013 by Tony Morreale, Sports Public Relations Manager


If you’re a baseball fan like me, today is the day you’ve longed for since the fall. Opening Day of Major League Baseball is here, and that means the return of first pitches, green grass and the crack of the bat.

However, for those of us at Walt Disney World Resort it also means saying “See ya real soon” to the Atlanta Braves, who called ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex their home for the past month.

In honor of the national pastime returning to center stage, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories from this past spring training at Disney. The 18-game slate at Champion Stadium saw everything from a new power hitting duo with the Upton brothers, to a couple of characters you may recognize from “A Galaxy Far, Far Away.”

Veteran Pitcher Tim Hudson Was Back in Action for the Atlanta Braves at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort

The Braves return to action tonight as they host the Philadelphia Phillies on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. Play ball!

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