When Disney’s Wide World of Sports opened, a lot of people wondered why Disney would venture into the sports arena. Fact of the matter is that Disney had been involved in the sporting business for years, most notably its partnership with the Amateur Athletic Union here in Central Florida.
An international sports complex capable of accommodating amateur and professional training events and competitions, including festivals and tournaments for more than 50 individual and team sports. One of the world’s premier sports destinations for athletes and spectators, the sports complex offers the drama and exhilarating thrill of sports nearly every day of the year. The complex includes weight training equipment and facilities, locker rooms, athletic training facilities, classrooms, office space and media facilities and serves as headquarters for most sporting events at Walt Disney World Resort.
On 220 acres of Walt Disney World property along the southern boundary near Interstate 4 between Osceola Parkway and U.S. 192 in Osceola County. The complex is comprised of:
- CHAMPION STADIUM (Baseball Ballpark)
- THE MILK HOUSE (Fieldhouse)
- HESS SPORTS FIELDS (9 muilti-sport fields / 4 diamonds)
- BASEBALL QUADRAPLEX (4 fields + extra infield)
- SOFTBALL COMPLEX (6 fields)
- TENNIS COMPLEX (10 courts)
- TRACK & FIELD COMPLEX
- D SPORTS and DISNEY’S CLUBHOUSE (Merchandise Locations)
- JOSTENS CENTER – (Multipurpose Auxiliary Fieldhouse)
Green Acres — The complex has 105 acres of the finest Tifway 419 Bermuda sports turf, enough to sod an entire 18-hole golf course.
Even on Rainy Days — Fields are always in playable condition, thanks to drainage systems that remove 5-7 inches of rainfall or more per hour.
Laying the Foundation — 750,000 tons of orange grove sand was imported and spread throughout the property during the first stage of the sports complex construction process.
All Wired Up — With more than 26 miles of state-of-the-art electrical conduit and fiber optics technology, the complex has the capacity to broadcast four sporting events simultaneously.
A Cut Above the Rest — The only double-decker spring training baseball stadium in Florida, the home of the Atlanta Braves – Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex – is also the state’s tallest spring training ballpark at 100 feet high.
Not a Bad Seat in the House — The ballpark seats are the roomiest in the industry at 21 inches wide — 80 percent of which are in prime viewing areas between first and third base.
Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks — Fans will not miss a single pitch thanks to a pair of concession stands that face the field inside the ballpark.
That Old Time Feel — Reminiscent of 1950s-style architecture, the ceiling trusses in The Milk House (fieldhouse) are 83 feet high and include no catwalks.
The Wood That Makes it Good — The Connor Sports Flooring in The Milk House uses a state-of-the-art shock system and consists of two types of environmentally protected hardwood, both specially imported from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The permanent surface throughout The Milk House is Type 1 maple wood, while the main arena parquet floor is a darker Type 3 maple wood.
Pumpin’ Iron — Every athlete at the complex has access to the finest Hammer Strength equipment in The Milk House’s 3,000-square-foot weight room.
Cool as Ice — The Milk House is cooled by the two largest air conditioning units on Walt Disney World Resort property.
On the Fast Track — The double-layer polyurethane surface at the track and field complex is resilient enough for both training and high performance competition.
Always Something to See — Double straight-aways allow sprint and hurdle races on both sides of the track, while the dual directional pits and runways allow two competitions to take place at the same time in each of the field events, regardless of wind direction.
Eyes on the Skies — Two state-of-the-art Data Tracking Network weather stations at the complex provide up-to-the-minute information about storms and other meteorological activity that could affect play.
Shop ‘Til You Drop — A pair of retail merchandise shops – D Sports and Disney’s Clubhouse – are located at the complex. D Sports, adjacent to the ticket office, includes all types of general sports and Disney character merchandise, while Disney’s Clubhouse, inside the ballpark, offers authentic Major League Baseball uniforms and other baseball merchandise and memorabilia.
Just Doing It — On average, 250,000 athletes of all ages and abilities participate in events annually at the sports complex, while another 35,000 compete in Disney’s Endurance Series, including the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon, the Walt Disney World Inline Marathon and Half Marathon, the Walt Disney World Minnie Marathon, triathlons and other events.
Games, Games and More Games — In one year, Disney’s Wide World of Sports competition schedule included more than 3,000 basketball games, 2,400 softball games, 1,800 baseball games and 3,900 soccer matches.
Attendance Mark — Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex has been the spring training baseball home of the Atlanta Braves since 1998. The single-game stadium attendance record is 11,606 from the Braves-Tigers game on March 20, 2008. In 2004 the Braves led the 18-team Grapefruit League in spring training attendance with a mark of 136,446 over 16 games, including seven sellouts.
No. 42 — During the spring of 2004, Disney’s Wide World of Sports unveiled a special No. 42 tribute inside Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex to Jackie Robinson, the Hall of Fame Brooklyn Dodger who broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. Similar to tributes in big league stadiums across the country, Robinson’s No. 42 is framed within the image of a baseball. It resides inside the ballpark for fans to see during Braves spring training and other events throughout the year.
Where Pro Teams Train — Disney’s Wide World of Sports is the only sports facility in the country to host training events for teams in the three primary American professional sports leagues — Atlanta Braves (Major League Baseball), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (National Football League) and NBA pre-draft training camp (National Basketball Association). On the international front, the sports complex also welcomed Scotland’s Celtic Football Club.
Ice Dream in Florida — In April 2004 Disney’s Wide World of Sports played host to one of the largest corporate special events in the history of Central Florida. The event included more than 1,500 sales representatives from a leading athletic footwear and apparel company. Proving that virtually any event set-up is possible, the sports complex accomplished the improbable, overseeing the construction of several temporary athletic facilities in the Town Green area, including an outdoor ice rink … in 90-degree temperatures!
Venue Expansion — Disney’s Wide World of Sports unveiled its first-ever venue expansion in August 2004 with the addition of the 20-acre Hess Sports Fields. Sponsored by Amerada Hess Corporation, a leading company in the petroleum industry, the venue includes four multi-sport fields for soccer, football, lacrosse and other sports, as well as four diamonds for baseball and softball. The fields offer event opportunities for more than 10 sports.
Wrapping it up
Having the sports complex at Walt Disney World has allowed a greater diversity of vacation opportunities for the resort. I have seen a few events there and it is a great place to watch the pros and the amateurs compete. With all of the upcoming events, now is a great time to check out Disney’s Wide World of Sports on your next visit.