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

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


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.

Seashore Sweets, Yard Arcade and ESPN Retail Store to Close at Disney’s BoardWalk


In anticipation of the upcoming major remodel of the Flying Fish Cafe, more changes have been announced for Disney’s BoardWalk.

Seashore Sweets will close on February 1st. It is located next door to Flying Fish Cafe, the old fashioned store sells cookies, salt water taffy, crisp rice treats, chocolates, candies, ice cream, and candy gifts.

Also now permanently closing will be the Yard Arcade and ESPN retail store, located between The ESPN Club and the BoardWalk Bakery.

Disney has not yet revealed what will be replacing the closed stores, but the location of Seashore Sweets would perhaps suggest it will be used to expand Flying Fish Cafe. That refurbishment is expected to be complete in November 2016.

Disney’s ESPN Withdraws Content from YouTube


Walt Disney Co’s sports network ESPN said it will not make its content available on YouTube, due to the recently announced ad-free subscription-based offering coined YouTube Red.

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said on Wednesday it will launch YouTube Red, a $10-a-month subscription option that lets viewers watch videos without interruption from advertisements, in the United States on Oct. 28.

“ESPN is not currently part of the Red service. Content previously available on the free YouTube service will be available across ESPN digital properties,” ESPN said in a statement.

Disney, ESPN’s parent company, however, has signed a deal to include its content on YouTube Red, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Disney and YouTube could not immediately be reached for comments.

Disney & DirecTV Ink New Multi-Year Distribution Deal

DirecTV Logo

From Tech Times

DirecTV and the Walt Disney Co. have mutually agreed to a new multiyear distribution deal that grants the satellite TV company rights to ABC, ESPN and online video services authenticated by the Disney Channel.

The renewal of the agreement between the two companies allows subscribers of DirecTV access to the entertainment content of Disney, which can be accessed through all Internet-connected devices such as computers, TVs, gaming consoles and mobile devices.

DirecTV, the leader in the satellite TV industry, is the final major pay-TV company to sign up for the “TV Everywhere” service of Disney as it renews its agreement with the company, which was due to expire at the end of this year.

The agreement between Disney and DirecTV was originally set to expire on Sept. 30. However, the term was extended as the two companies commenced negotiations regarding this new deal. The two companies avoided interruptions to the services of subscribers, which have happened between other content companies and satellite TV companies while negotiating new deals.

The provisions of the new deal were not disclosed.

The 20 million subscribers of DirecTV in the United States will gain access to video-on-demand content and live feeds from all cable networks of Disney and ESPN and all TV stations owned and operated by ABC. The agreement also includes the Watch services of Disney, and allows subscribers to access all these content both inside and outside the home.

The agreement also calls for DirecTV to launch several channels, including the ABC News and Univision joint venture Fusion, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Goal Line and Longhorn Network. DirecTV subscribers will also be granted access to ESPN3, which is the live multi-screen channel of ESPN, and SEC Network +, which is the digital service of the SEC Network.

According to Dan York, chief content officer for DirecTV, the agreement between the company and Disney allows for the two companies to “evolve together into the future,” in addition to the wide range of content that DirecTV subscribers will gain access to inside or outside their home.

“It’s an immense and exciting undertaking to work together to shape the future of content consumption, and the possibilities are endless,” York added.

The deal with DirecTV is the final one that Disney had to make to secure partnerships with the top 10 pay-TV companies in the U.S., which Disney had been working on for the past several years, said Disney and ESPN Media Networks VP of affiliate sales and marketing David Preschlack.

Disney 3rd Quarter Profits Jump Thanks to Movies, Parks, and Products

The main gate of entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank

Media company Walt Disney Company’s quarterly profit blew past Wall Street expectations, with a muscular performance from its “Captain America” movie, higher attendance at U.S. theme parks and brisk sales of merchandise tied to mega-hit “Frozen.”

Net income rose to $2.2 billion in the quarter ended on June 28, up 22 percent from the year-ago period, the company said on Tuesday. Diluted earnings per share reached a record $1.28, beating analysts’ average forecast of $1.17 in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S survey.

Revenue rose to 8 percent $12.47 billion.

Shares of Disney rose 15 cents in after-hours trading to $86.90 after closing at $86.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger said the company’s earnings per share for the first three quarters of fiscal 2014 were greater than any previous full fiscal year.

“Our strategy of building strong brands and franchises continues to create great value across our company,” Iger said in a statement.

Operating income at Disney’s media networks division was flat at $2.3 billion and declined 7 percent for the unit’s cable networks segment, due to a decrease at sports juggernaut ESPN. ESPN fell in part from higher programming and production costs for Major League Baseball and the FIFA World Cup, and the absence of ESPN UK, which had been sold, Disney said.

At the movie studio, operating income more than doubled to $411 million, thanks to the success of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Maleficent” in theaters and home entertainment sales for “Frozen.”

The theme parks unit reported operating income of $848 million, up 23 percent from the prior year and driven by the company’s U.S. operations. Both attendance and guest spending rose at domestic parks.

The company is drawing up plans to add a “far greater ‘Star Wars’ presence” at its theme parks, Iger said, and hopes to announce details next year. He assured analysts the next “Star Wars” movie, “Episode VII,” remains set for release on December 18, 2015, despite an injury to star Harrison Ford.

Operating income for consumer products rose 25 percent to $273 million thanks to increases at Disney retail stores and in its licensing business for products related to “Frozen,” the Disney Channel, “Spider-Man” and “Planes.”

Disney’s interactive gaming unit reported its fourth consecutive quarterly profit with help from sales of its Disney Infinity toy-and-game combo. Operating income for the unit totaled $29 million.

Analysts asked Iger if he felt the need to acquire new companies to increase Disney’s scale as other media companies plan mergers.

Iger said the company felt confident Disney can “continue to mine growth from the channel properties that we own.”

“We like the hand that we have,” he said.

Walt Disney World to Host ESPN Fantasy Football Convention

ESPN FFB Convention

Nothing says “fall” like tailgate parties, chili cook-offs and, of course, football season. On August 22-23, you can officially kick-off sport’s greatest season of the year with ESPN‘s inaugural Fantasy Football Convention, taking place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The first-of-its-kind event features unprecedented access to ESPN talent including Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Sara Walsh, Mark Schlereth, Stephania Bell, Tim Hasselbeck and more!

Start things off with an epic Tailgate Party, where you can mix and mingle with ESPN talent and be a judge in the first-ever ESPN Chili Bowl. Decorated Disney Chefs from around the world will serve up their best creations for a chance at this prestigious award. The next morning, you’ll have breakfast with some of your favorite characters decked out for the gridiron.

Ever wonder what it’s like behind-the-scenes of an ESPN studio show? You’ll get the chance to find out, as the Convention includes a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now. The event finale features the opportunity to take part in a live fantasy football draft. Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a long-time veteran, you’ll get the chance to pick your teams with the help of ESPN Fantasy

Experts roaming the floor. And best yet, season winners of leagues created during the Convention will receive a customized trophy. Talk about bragging rights!

For more information on the inaugural Fantasy Football Convention at Walt Disney World Resort and to register, click here.

NFL Superstars Join Drew Brees Passing Academy at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney

Mickey:Drew Brees

This year’s Drew Brees Passing Academy and 7 on 7 Tournament is getting a lot of extra firepower. NFL megastars Larry Fitzgerald, Darrelle Revis and Darren Sproles are joining the Saints’ Pro Bowl QB for the three-day event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

Fitzgerald (Cardinals WR), Revis (Patriots DB) and Sproles (Eagles RB) will help coach the prep football camp participants along with Brees. Fitzgerald will work with the receivers; Revis will train the defensive backs; and Sproles will guide the running backs during the event which includes one day of position training and two days of 7 on 7 action from June 26-28, 2014 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, where NFL pros such as Falcons WR Devin Hester, Jets WR Santonio Holmes and Steelers CB Ike Taylor train year-round under noted trainer Tom Shaw.

The Brees camp will also feature a position-by-position skills competition, 1 on 1 passing competitions and a panel discussion featuring Brees, Fitzgerald, Revis, Sproles and other NFL personnel.

The camp is open to only 24 high school football teams across the country (15-20 players per team). The camp costs $1,500 per team. Teams can register and get additional information at

For more information about ESPN Wide World of Sports, visit

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