ESPN Wide World of Sports Opens New Arena…Are Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular’s Days Numbered?

On Friday Walt Disney World opened The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports, a new multi-purpose arena at the sports complex, further expanding the 220-acre sports venue that is widely regarded as the leading facility for youth sports in America.

The new 300,000 square-foot venue will host a variety of sports for girls and boys, such as basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and, in particular, cheerleading and dance competitions. The use of the space started with the prestigious UCA & UDA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship that took place this past weekend. In fact, the 8,000-seat arena is one of the largest in the country designed specifically for cheer and dance events.

This is indeed a wonderful addition to the facilities at ESPN Wide World of Sports, but I have to wonder what this means for the future of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

While not an opening day attraction for the then Disney-MGM Studios, it did open a few months later on August 25th of 1989.  Despite a six-month rehab in 2000 and the change out of Nazi Swastikas for stylized Greek Crosses on vehicles, aircraft and uniforms in 2004 the attraction has existed pretty much unaltered for nearly 30 years.

The attraction is still extremely popular, with shows being full or nearly full, yet the show is showing its age.  With the re-imagineering of the park which includes the addition Galaxy’s Edge, known to many as “Star Wars Land,” could this space be better used for newer and possibly Star Wars related shows or attractions?

Undoubtably one of the reasons this show has remained, essentially untouched for as long it has, is because of its popularity and its ability to “eat people” or occupy the attention of a lot of people.

One of the other reasons that Indy has remained, according to some sources is that Disney has needed the space for the above mentioned cheer and dance competitions.  According to the same sources, the space has been booked out for years.  Without another venue for these competitions Disney has been forced to keep Indy around.

With the opening of The Arena, does Disney still need Indy to stay?  My guess is that Indy probably sticks around until at least when the opening of Galaxy’s Edge.  With all of the construction going on and the limited amount of attractions available, Indy needs to stay so guests have something to do especially families with kids.  After Galaxy’s Edge opens I say all bets are off.  Could this area be used for a Phase 2 of Galaxy’s Edge?  Or maybe a new Indiana Jones area will use the space.

How about you, what do you think?

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Celebrates 20 Years

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex celebrated its 20th anniversary on Tuesday, March 28th. Disney Sports executives Maribeth Bisienere and Faron Kelley marked the occasion with a special on-field moment during the Atlanta Braves-Baltimore Orioles spring training game at the sports complex.

Reggie Williams, former Cincinnati Bengals star and founding executive of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Braves game, which also featured 20th anniversary merchandise and music and trivia from 1997.

Since its opening on March 28, 1997, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex has remained a preeminent multi-sport facility for professional, collegiate and youth sports events of all levels, from AAU Basketball National Championships to the NFL Pro Bowl Week.

In its 20-year history the sports complex has hosted more than three million athletes, including some of the biggest names in sports – Muhammad Ali, Venus and Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Shaquille O’Neal, Tom Brady, Lionel Messi and Mia Hamm. The complex hosts 100 annual athletic and entertainment events featuring 70 different sports and over the years has hosted major events such as NFL Pro Bowl Week (2017), the Invictus Games (2016), the inaugural World Baseball Classic (2006) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp (2002-2008).

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was one of the first major sports facilities in the country, blazing a new trail in youth sports tourism. In its wake, countless other youth sports complexes have emerged around the country to meet the increasing demand, as 27-percent of all travel taken in the U.S. is solely for organized sporting events.* ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and others comprise what is now an estimated $7 billion youth sports industry.*

While the celebration kicked off on March 28, there will be more tributes throughout the year to commemorate the anniversary and emphasize the positive impact of youth sports. Additionally, there will be new sports-related initiatives announced that will continue Disney’s long-standing support of youth sports nationally and that will continue to drive tourism in Central Florida for the next 20 years and beyond.

*Data sourced from a May 2014 National Association of Sports Commission Study

– See more at: http://disneysportsnews.com/releases/2017/03/28/espn-wide-world-of-sports-complex-celebrates-20-years/#sthash.Rd3W502Y.dpuf

Walt Disney World to Provide Free Mosquito Repellent to Guests for Zika Prevention

As the threat of Zika approaches Orlando, Walt Disney World will start providing free insect repellent for guests visiting the park.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked businesses throughout the state to help in any way they can in stopping the spread of Zika. One of the ways to prevent the spread of the virus is to encourage the use of insect repellent.

Disney will have various types of mosquito repellent at its theme parks, Disney Springs and the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Hotel rooms will also have aerosol bug spray. The resort will have signs informing people they can get the protection.

“In an abundance of caution, we are accelerating preventative efforts throughout our property, including providing complimentary insect repellent to our Guests along with helpful guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” Disney said in a statement.

 

Walt Disney World Announces Full Entertainment Line-Up for Night of Joy 2016

The next generation of Night of Joy at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is just about a month away. With an amazing lineup featuring eighteen great artists in Contemporary Christian Music – you’ll want to make plans to attend! Below is the lineup for each evening.

Friday, September 9

HP Field House
6:30-7:45 p.m. – Matthew West
8:30-10:00 p.m. – Crowder
11:00 p.m. -12:30 a.m. – MercyMe

Champion Stadium
7:30-8:30 p.m. – Francesca Battistelli
9:15-10:45 p.m. – Chris Tomlin
11:30 p.m. -1:00 a.m. – Casting Crowns

Jostens Center
6:00-7:00 p.m. – Stars Go Dim
7:45-8:15 p.m. – Zealand Worship
8:45-9:15 p.m. – Zealand Worship
10:00-10:30 p.m. – OBB
11:00-11:30 p.m. – OBB

Saturday, September 10

HP Field House
6:30-7:30 p.m. – Thousand Foot Krutch
8:00-9:15 p.m. – RED
10:15-11:45 p.m. – Switchfoot

Champion Stadium
7:00-8:00 p.m. – Hillsong YOUNG & FREE
8:45-10:00 p.m. – for KING & COUNTRY
10:45 p.m.-12:15 a.m. – Newsboys

Jostens Center
5:30-6:15 p.m. – VERIDIA
9:15-9:35 p.m. – Tim Timmons
10:30-11:15 p.m. – Derek Minor

And since Night of Joy is taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney isadding more spirit with “Fields of Joy.” Come on down to Disey’s premier sports fields and play a fast-paced game of 4v4 soccer. Kick a field goal. Clock your pitching arm. Showcase your free throw skills and many other sports challenges. With all that activity, you’ll want to test your taste buds with a variety of food trucks to satisfy any big league appetite. The Fields of Joy offers a great opportunity for families, friends, groups or even strangers to simply have fun, laugh and share in some fellowship.

In addition to more music and more spirit, Disney is infusing more fun by adding Christian Comedians to the line-up for both nights and introducing FanFest at Jostens Center. FanFest will include a fun, interactive area that includes video games, 60 second challenges, Imagination Playground and oversized versions of popular games such as foosball, connect four and chess. All these activities and, for the first time at Night of Joy, exclusive merchandise from many of the Night of Joy artists appearing each night will be available in the Jostens Center. To top it all off, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, along with some of their friends, will be there to meet their fans from 5:00-11:00 p.m. each night.

Do you still want more? Exclusively offered for Saturday night only, FanFest will include a special opportunity for guests to participate in multiple question and answers sessions with some of the top artists appearing at Night of Joy this weekend. These stars may also be available for photo opportunities and, who knows, they may even wander over to play some games.

 

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex To Become New Epicenter of Cheer and Dance

Disney is giving us a look at the design of the new state-of-the-art venue that was announced back in February that they will be building at the ESPN World of Sports Complex.

The new indoor sports venue, which will be adjacent to the Jostens Center, will feature a flexible design that can morph from one large competition space capable of seating more than 8,000 fans to as many as four separate competition areas. It will be so flexible that it can be configured to host a variety of other sports, such as basketball and volleyball, as well as concerts.

It will be the only venue of its size in America that is specifically designed with cheerleading and dance competitions in mind, offering special warm up and practice areas as well as spaces for judges and officials.

The facility, expected to be complete within the next 18 months, will perfectly complement the growing number of prestigious cheerleading and dance events at Disney. Currently, the sports complex plays host to nine cheerleading and dance competitions, including six elite Varsity-produced events such as the USASF Cheerleading and Dance Worlds held each spring.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex was already a major player in the cheerleading and dance world, but the construction of this massive new indoor venue means that the sports complex is poised to become the epicenter of cheerleading and dance events in this nation. And that’s enough to make any cheerleader do a round off Arabian into a round off double back tuck.

Night of Joy 2016 Tickets Now Available

Tickets are now on sale for the 2016 Night of Joy Christian concert series.  This year’s Night of Joy will be the first to be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex instead of the Magic Kingdom.

You can purchase tickets from the official website.

Night of Joy 2016 will take place on September 9th and 10th.  This year’s event will be headlined by 2015 Grammy Award Winner Francesca Battistelli.

Performers this year will include:

  • Friday, September 9 – MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Crowder, Matthew West, Stars Go Dim, Zealand Worship
  • Saturday, September 10 – newsboys, for King & Country, Young & Free, Switchfoot, Red, Thousand Foot Krutch, Tim Timmons

The new venue will bring new ticketing options, giving attendees the option to combine the concerts with theme park admission.

  • A single-night ticket for Friday’s concerts – $39 plus tax (in advance); $45 the day of the show (if available).
  • A ticket which would include a day at one of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks and the concerts for Saturday night – $99 plus tax (in advance); $114 plus tax the day of the show (if available).
  • A 2-Day ticket which includes both nights’ concerts, a day at one of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks – $119 plus tax (in advance). Guests who purchase the 2-Day ticket before August 9, 2016 will also receive one (1) admission to their choice of Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon from September 6 – September 12, 2016. Group discounts also are available.

MercyMe, Casting Crowns, newsboys Among 15 Top Christian Music Performers at Disney’s Night of Joy

It’s only March, but Disney’s Night of Joy 2016 will be here before we know it; and we wanted to give you an update, including the exciting lineup of talent coming to this year’s event.

As Disney mentioned last year, Disney’s Night of Joy 2016 will expand, with the concerts being held for the first time ever at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This year’s artists represent one of the best lineups in all of Christian Music with 15 top performers and groups including 2015 Grammy® Award Winner Francesca Battistelli.

  • Friday, September 9 – MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Crowder, Matthew West, Stars Go Dim, Zealand Worship
  • Saturday, September 10 – newsboys, for King & Country, Young & Free, Switchfoot, Red, Thousand Foot Krutch, Tim Timmons

This year, they’re expanding Disney’s Night of Joy in many ways. Guests will have more options than ever with two nights of Contemporary Christian music, ample seating at indoor and outdoor venues, amazing performances on multiple stages, including Champion Stadium, and opportunities for fellowship and fun. We also have ticket options that allow you to maximize the park time doing rides and then maximize your concerts and fellowship time at night – plus you pick your park!

We caught up with Night of Joy artist Matthew West and his family checking out ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex earlier this year.

Fans will have more ticket options for this year’s event than ever before. They will be able to purchase:

  • A single-night ticket for Friday’s concerts – $39 plus tax (in advance); $45 the day of the show (if available).
  • A ticket which would include a day at one of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks and the concerts for Saturday night – $99 plus tax (in advance); $114 plus tax the day of the show (if available).
  • A 2-Day ticket which includes both nights’ concerts, a day at one of the four Walt Disney World Resort theme parks – $119 plus tax (in advance).

And, if that weren’t enough, guests who purchase the 2-Day ticket before August 9, 2016 will also receive one (1) admission to their choice of Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon from September 6 – September 12, 2016. Group discounts also are available.

Tickets will go on sale in mid-April.

For more information, check out nightofjoy.com and stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for updates on entertainment and events.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Announces Mega Cheerleading, Dance Team Venue

ESPN-Wide-World-of-Sports-Cheerleading-Announcement-742x594

With its sports business continuing to grow, specifically in the cheerleading and dance team space, ESPN Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World Resort is preparing to break ground on a new state-of-the-art cheerleading and dance team competition venue.

ESPN Wide World of Sports is planning to team up with the nation’s top cheerleading organization, Varsity Spirit, to create the first venue in the world specifically designed for cheerleading and dance team competitions. The venue will include a flexible design for one large competition space that can be set up for as many as four competition areas. Additional areas are being tailored for warm up and practice, along with areas for judges and officials.

With the ability to seat over 8,000 guests, plus performance and warm-up space, the new multi-use sports and entertainment venue will also have the ability to host six regulation basketball courts, six regulation volleyball courts or concert configurations. There will be concessions throughout the building, and an additional box office and entry to the complex.

“As our sports business continues to grow, we’re thrilled to work alongside Varsity Spirit to create a sporting and entertainment venue that will not only complement our existing venues, but will be a model for cheerleading and dance team competitions,” said Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of ESPN Wide World of Sports. “We value our young athletes and want to give these incredible guests an experience that can only be achieved at Disney.”

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and Varsity Spirit will continue to host the world’s most prestigious cheerleading events at the complex, including Varsity Spirit’s annual National High School Cheerleading Championships. This event draws more than 650 teams from more than 30 states and is the only National Championship endorsed by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Winning a coveted white satin National Champion jacket is seen as the pinnacle of success for thousands of cheerleaders from across the country.

“Varsity Spirit invented the modern day cheerleading and dance competition, and we are proud to be the force behind this project, which represents our commitment to providing the very best and safest environment in the world for our athletes and coaches,” said Jeff Webb, Founder and Chairman of Varsity Brands. “Since this building has been designed specifically for spirit teams, we can’t wait to provide an even more high quality competition experience to thousands of athletes each year.”

According to Varsity Spirit, cheerleading continues to rise in popularity around the nation, as well as around the world. The competitive side of cheerleading focuses on

athleticism and entertainment, in addition to the traditional crowd-leading role of the cheerleader. Cheerleaders are the most visible representation of a school’s spirit, whether at a pep rally or on the field and that spirit can play an important role in a school’s success. According to research by Varsity Brands, students with higher levels of school spirit perform better academically, are more civically engaged, and are happier in general than their less-spirited peers.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex hosts six cheer and dance team events annually through its collaboration with Varsity Spirit, bringing tens of thousands of athletes and spectators to Walt Disney World Resort. With an aggressive growth strategy that will include more competitions and record-setting participation, this new venue will draw athletes, spectators and fans from around the country and provide an even stronger, positive economic impact on Central Florida. While the venue will primarily host cheer and dance competitions and volleyball and basketball games, the venue will also be incorporated into the numerous new sports and entertainment offerings at the complex.

Construction is slated to begin in February 2016, and is expected to be complete by mid- 2017.

Prince Harry Announces ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will Host the 2016 Invictus Games

Invictus Games

Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, has announced that the second Invictus Games have been awarded to Orlando, Florida. The 2016 Games will take place May 8-12, 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

The Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women.

The inaugural Invictus Games was held in London from 10-14 September 2014 and was attended by over 400 competitors from 13 nations.

Prince Harry said: “As I’ve continued to work with wounded servicemen and women, I regularly see the power of the soldiers’ stories to inspire others. For every competitor last September, there are hundreds of others around the world who would benefit from having the same opportunity. I wanted other cities and countries to look at the competition – what it meant to those taking part and those who saw it – and take up the challenge for the next Invictus Games. I am absolutely delighted that the United States has taken up that challenge and will host the next Invictus Games in 2016. I have no doubt that the USA will set the bar even higher than London did and put on a great show.”

Following the success of the 2014 Invictus Games, the Invictus Games Foundation has been established to develop and pursue the event’s legacy. It manages the selection of the hosts for future games and oversees their delivery.

The Foundation set out desired requirements for future host cities to ensure the next Invictus Games meet stringent quality standards. This includes a mandatory minimum of 10 participating nations, 250 competitors and five sports; a strong families programme; appropriate venues and sport infrastructure; extensive broadcast and media coverage and access to the Games for spectators and media.

Since the end of the 2014 Games, The Invictus Games Foundation has received a number of bids from potential countries and cities wishing to host the Invictus Games over the coming years. The US bid for Orlando won the rights to the 2016 Games thanks to the city’s outstanding sporting facilities and great tourist infrastructure, which make it an ideal host city for both competitors and spectators.

U.S. Army Sergeant Ryan McIntosh, a winner of three medals in London in 2014 including one gold said: “The power of sports and competition has proven to me that I am still the same person I was before Injury. No matter what comes I will face that adversity and come out on top, Unconquered.”

Ken Fisher, President of the 2016 Invictus Games Organising Committee said: “Sport and exercise are important to the health and healing of our wounded warriors. We are honoured the Invictus Games is coming to the United States. The competitors, their families and caregivers are all inspirations and each of their stories is a testament to courage, love and perseverance.”

Brazilian and German Soccer Powerhouses Square Off at Disney in the Florida Cup in January

FloridaCup

Four Brazilian and German soccer powerhouse teams will face each other in Central Florida for a unique “clubs for nations” tournament. The Florida Cup, created by 2SV Sports, will involve world-class soccer matches hosted by Disney Sports and Orlando City SC  on January 15th, 2015, at  ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in addition to matches in Jacksonville. Tickets for the matches at Disney start at $35 and are available online at Ticketmaster.com.

The following teams representing the most successful nations in the FIFA World Cup will play each other in a special double-header at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Central Florida before competing in Jacksonville:

  • Two-time FIFA World Champion Corinthians (BRA),
  • Champions League club Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER),
  • Four-time Brazilian Champion Fluminense (BRA), and
  • Three-time German Champion 1. FC Köln (GER).

“Orlando City is delighted to help bring premier world class soccer to Central Florida, reinforcing our commitment to fans and the community while further strengthening the region’s reputation as the ‘Soccer Capital of the South’ just a few weeks before our historic debut in Major League Soccer,” said Orlando City SC Founder and President Phil Rawlins.

The Florida Cup expands the growing list of premier soccer events staged at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and adds to the complex’s rich history of hosting major sports events. The complex’s portfolio of pro and youth soccer events has included AS Roma off-season training, the Disney Pro Soccer Classic, the 2014 Orlando City SC regular-season home games, the Disney International Cup and the Disney Soccer Showcase, among others.

“The Florida Cup represents yet another opportunity for soccer fans to experience world-class international soccer at an intimate, family-friendly venue such as ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex,’’ said Disney Sports business manager Patrick Dicks. “This will be international soccer at its best and a fan experience to match.”

“The idea behind creating the Florida Cup was to identify an ideal time of year when these top clubs could combine their need for a quality pre-season training camp with some competitive matches, while also building awareness for their brands in key international markets, such as the US,’’ said 2SV Sports president and former soccer player Ricardo Villar. “I think the Florida Cup embodies all of those things through our local sports infrastructure, key partners and innovative tournament format. We hope to continue to grow the event in 2016.’’

The Brazilian and German teams will arrive for preseason training in early January to prepare for the tournament.  They will face each other on January 15 at Disney and then travel to Jacksonville for another double-header on January 17. Every match win delivers three points, with one point for a tie in regulation and one additional point for a penalty shootout victory.

At the end of the tournament, a champion will be crowned and the points will also be aggregated for each nation to determine a national victor as well.  Therefore, every single match represents precious points for club and nation, with the pride of two rich soccer cultures at stake.

The event will also include a panel discussion on Jan. 14 involving representatives from Brazilian and German clubs and leagues, as well as Orlando City SC. A variety of soccer-related topics will be discussed, including youth development, sports marketing, global league structures, among other topics.