Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I’m back! I had a BLAST at the Disney Sports Festival and I can’t wait to share all of the great things I learned about the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

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I’m a little sad the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex wasn’t around when I was younger. Back in the day my sister and I used to travel for different soccer tournaments and I can’t imagine how cool it would have been to play at Walt Disney World. What a wonderful one-of-a-kind experience for aspiring athletes everywhere.

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Located at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, ESPN Wide World of Sports is the leading youth sports venue in the country, hosting more than 350 events a year. Designed to take youth sports to the next level, the 255-acre multi-sport facility accommodates 70 different sports and features a collection of first-class amenities, including a 10,000-seat baseball venue, Champion Stadium, a pair of field houses and dozens of multi-sport fields.

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We started our visit at the complex, just as any team would: we dropped our bags off with the WWoS staff. Instead of lugging bags, balls, equipment across the parking lot, the WWoS offers drop off service for the teams. The coach can drop their equipment off at the golf cart and the staff will make sure their equipment meets back up with them in the complex. It’s like a sports bellhop service.

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Our group was comprised of 20 or so bloggers from around the U.S. It’s always fun getting to know blogger from other niches and genres. I met some Disney bloggers, mommy bloggers, sports bloggers, daddy bloggers, etc. All with a shared love for all things Disney.

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After making a grand entrance through the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (I love walking through the gates, there’s something so empowering about those entrance gates), we headed to The Grill where a catered breakfast was being served.

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But first, we met out awesome hosts for the day: Carissa and Kevin.

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They gave us a game-worthy welcome by introducing our names and blogs as if we were the starting line up for a big game. Such a fun welcome!

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The breakfast spread was amazing. I was so happy when I saw eggs on the table. I knew I needed extra protein to get through the day.

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My plate.

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While eating breakfast we were introduced to a couple of key players at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

First up, Tom Wolber, Senior Vice President Disney Sports Enterprises.

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Tom has basically held every job Disney World has to offer from Disneyland Paris to Hollywood Studios to Disney Cruise Lines. He’s done it all and still sounds like a kid at Christmas when ever he talks about the Disney World brand.

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Tom informed us that Disney Sports offers numerous open registration tournaments & training camps that often take place during school holidays & summer vacation. The events are planned with family in mind.

Up next, Faron Kelly, Director for Disney Sports and RunDisney.

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Again, another man who is so passionate about his job. Faron emphasized that it’s play on the field as well as play off the field at WWoS. The great service that Disney is famous for around the parks is the “wow” factor at WWoS. Adding ESPN to the mix gives the kids that superstar feeling, especially when tournament highlights are played on the ESPN channels around the hotel.

On the runDisney side, he’s seen that women are running more now than ever before. In fact, the Walt Disney World marathon in January had more female participants than male. It’s the women who are driving the current running boom.

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The two men said their good-byes and it was time to move on with our tour.

But not before getting a photo with the “boss.”

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I’ll be back with more!

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Psst… Disney was kind enough to cover my room and board over the next couple of days in exchange for blogging about the event. As always, all opinions are my own!

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