THIS IS A SPONSORED POST.
Last summer, we traveled to Orlando along with Dude 3’s AAU basketball team to participate in an ESPN Wide World of Sports basketball tournament -AAU National Championship held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Located on the Walt Disney World property, this massive sports complex hosts thousands of athletes in all kinds of events and tournaments each year. While we were there, there with hundreds of other youth basketball players participating as well as a soccer tournament and a baseball tournament going on.
As you can imagine, it was crowded and harried, like any large scale tournament would be.
But it was also a super fun, amazing experience for our team and our family.
We are fortunate to have had part of our trip sponsored by Liberty Sport, makers of the protective eye wear that Dude 3 rocks daily. They support young athletes like ours by helping them be as safe as possible while participating in the sports they love.
You can read more about our experience with Liberty Sport and choosing your child’s first glasses to learn more.
Our ESPN Wide World of Sports Basketball Tournament Adventure
If you and your team are planning to participate in an ESPN Wide World of Sports Basketball Tournament (or any tournament really), here are some tips to help make your experience go more smoothly.
How to Have a Successful ESPN Wide World of Sports Basketball Tournament
Like waaaaay ahead.
For those participating in ESPN Wide World of Sports basketball tournaments and similar events, there are discounts and room blocks and park tickets and such that will need to be reserved. Because you are getting special group pricing, it makes the most sense for you and your team to get in early so you don’t miss out on anything.
Read the fine print.
Participating in a large scale tournament at Disney is not just like booking a family vacation to Disney. Because they give you and your group special pricing and other benefits, you may have some restrictions in place or minimums to meet.
For example, we were shocked to discover that our team needed to book a certain number of rooms via the preferred travel vendor in order to be eligible for the tournament. We could’ve avoided last minute scrambling and resort changes if we would’ve made note of that in advance.
Think about transportation.
We never rent a car when we visit Disney because they are notorious for having an effective transportation system that covers their resort properties -it’s easy to navigate and utilize when you visit.
However, the ESPN area, while serviced by Disney transportation, does not have as comprehensive of a coverage schedule as the rest of the resort. Buses only travel from certain resorts (Caribbean Beach and Pop Century), and they travel on a unique schedule. Be sure to make note of it before you leave your resort for the day.
If you’re not renting a car, download Uber.
Or whichever similar app you like to use. Then set up your account and link your payment options before you leave home. It may come in handy when you find yourself in a bind at the stadium and eager to get to your resort to rest while the buses aren’t running.
Just like tournaments at home, anticipate spending hours upon hours at the event facility. You will want to bring a bag that is easy to carry (or roll!) and make sure you have everything you may need for the game, as well as extra socks, extra clothing, and a sweater -it got quite chilly in the gym with that Florida AC pumping.
Think about your meals.
You are welcome to bring your own beverages and food too. Your team can also have meals delivered to the facility for you. They offer nutritious packed meal options to make eating easier for the entire team. There are also concession stands inside of the gym and a restaurant on site, but all of them can get crowded when the venue fills up.
Make sure you have your tickets.
Both your player and all of the spectators who plan to enter the stadium areas will need tickets. There is a ticket booth on site, but we recommend buying in advance online to avoid lines day of. It’s important that you keep this entry pass with you at all times so you avoid the mad dash back to your hotel to grab it (yep, it happened to one of our teammates while we were there) before a game.
Plan some Disney magic.
The tournament we attended offered great discount rates for tickets to the parks while we were in town. It was an affordable way for our family to sneak in some park time.
But, don’t over schedule your athlete.
Listen, if you’ve never been to Disney World before it’s important that you understand the hugeness of the place. The average walking distance for a day at Disney is about 12 to 14 miles! Imagine playing a fast-paced basketball game after walking 12 miles and staying up until midnight!
If you want your player to have fresh legs and plenty of sleep for their tournaments, think about adding a day to your visit so that you can schedule your Disney park time for after the competition winds down.
Our experiences playing in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Basketball Tournament is one of the most memorable for our whole family. It was amazing to have the opportunity to experience it with our team. Make sure you snag plenty
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Liberty Sport. We received monetary compensation and Dude 3 wears their glasses daily -all opinions are our own.