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Sue Holland

Disney's Wide World of Sports

Friday, September 13, 2003
by Sue Holland, MousePlanet staff writer

The icon that greets visitor's to the complex.
The icon that greets visitor's to the complex.

In 1997, Disney opened Disney's Wide World of Sports, a state-of-the-art sports complex on a 200-acre site inside Walt Disney World. Several major sporting organizations such as NFL, NBA, PGA, and NCAA host annual events there, as do children's sports leagues, and, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) has relocated its headquarters there.

The complex is easiest to arrive by car, since Disney transportation does not operate between it and the resorts. The location is not far from Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and the new as-yet-unopen Pop Century Resort. The complex is on Victory Way, off Osceola Parkway. People without a car can catch a Disney bus from the Studios theme park between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., although you should always check at your resort before heading out though, since they make frequent changes to their schedule.

The long sign makes it easy to find the sports complex.
The long sign makes it easy to find the sports complex.

Parking is free. Premium Annual Passholders and those who make book their WDW reservations through the Disney Travel Company can enter the complex without an additional charge. For everyone else, admission is $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children ages 3 to 9.

There really is little to actually do here unless you are attending a sporting event. Baseball is the primary sport here, ranging from Little League to professional play. In addition to three major league-sized ballfields, there are two Little League fields and four lighted softball fields.

An amateur baseball game in action.
An amateur baseball game in action.

Each field has limited bleacher seating, and is located a long distance from the parking lot. When attending a baseball or softball game, it definitely makes sense to pack lightly or bring a cart of some sort if you will be transporting water or other supplies. There are concession stands which are open during sporting events, selling beer, water, soda, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, candy, peanuts, popcorn, nachos, ice cream, and similar snacks. There are water fountains as well, but not all were working particularly well on the hot July day I toured!

The concession stand at the baseball stadium.
The concession stand at the baseball stadium.

Fans of professional baseball have a beautiful 9500-seat stadium in which to enjoy the Orlando Rays games. The Atlanta Braves use this facility for their spring training games in February and March. There are concessions and a gift shop located inside the stadium, and every seat affords a great view of the action on the field.

The stadium is pleasing to the eye.
The stadium is pleasing to the eye.

Two views of the field, taken from near the very highest row.
Two views of the field, taken from near the very highest row.

Two views of the field, taken from near the very highest row.

Basketball enthusiasts will enjoy six NBA-sized courts located in an air-conditioned fieldhouse. There are four courts on the lower level, and two located above the locker rooms. The same color scheme is carried over from the baseball stadium, and this facility is very attractive. The seating provides excellent views of the game, with the top row only 35 feet away from the action. In addition to basketball, this venue can be used for wrestling, martial arts and inline hockey.

A beautiful building for basketball games.
A beautiful building for basketball games.

Basketball game in progress.
Basketball game in progress.

Also located in this building is a 3,000-square foot fitness center and locker rooms for the athletes.

The complex's fitness center.
The complex's fitness center.

The sports complex includes six sand courts for beach volleyball tournaments, a 400-meter track-and-field area, and 11 lighted tennis courts. With 1000 permanent seats and the ability to add 7500 more, seating is plentiful and offers a great view of the action. Unfortunately, none of them are sheltered from the Florida sun, which makes sunblock is a must. If you bring an umbrella with you, a seat in the top row would be great.

The complex's tennis venue.
The complex's tennis venue.

Soccer and football fans have four fields dedicated to those sports, which rival any fields in your own hometown. They are designed with international soccer dimensions and can seat 10,000 spectators at each one. The field closest to the Fieldhouse is equipped with lights for night games.

Football and soccer field.
Football and soccer field.

Disney's Wide World of Sports is home to one attraction — the NFL Experience. Billed by Disney as a pro football funpark, visitors can pretend to be pro players for short time by participating in a number of challenges. Test your passing accuracy as you throw the ball at a target in the Quarterback Challenge. Run an obstacle course and avoid tacklers in the NFL Training Camp, or measure your performance in basic football skills (punting, passing, kicking). Children have their own section where they can kick and pass or play in the bounce house, which is shaped like a football helmet. Best of all, this is included in the admission to the Complex.

The NFL experience, the complex's only real "attraction."
The NFL experience, the complex's only real "attraction."

Visitors who want something more substantial than food from a concession have to leave the complex in order to eat. The All-Star Café is located right across from the baseball stadium, and features a casual setting with several big-screen televisions so you do not miss a minute of sports action.

The All Star Cafe, the Wide World of Sport's main eatery.
The All Star Cafe, the Wide World of Sport's main eatery.

Many Walt Disney World visitors may not even know Disney's Wide World of Sports exists. Certainly if your son or daughter is involved in a sport at the tournament level and those games are being held here it is a great reason to combine a Disney vacation with those parental obligations! It doesn't hurt to inquire about what events may be happening during your next visit, particularly if you are looking for something different to do.


Contact Sue at sue.holland@mouseplanet.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.

After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.

She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.

Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.

You can contact Sue here.

Get the latest info about the resort at “Park Update: Walt Disney World.”

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