ESPN Wide World of Sports: A Complete Guide

by | Feb 28, 2024 | ESPN Wide World of Sports, WDW Blog

Find out what’s inside the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports complex located at Walt Disney World Resort.

Thank you to Disney for inviting us to the Disney Youth Sports & Great Outdoors Media Event where we were able to experience amenities and recreation activities around Walt Disney World Resort, including a tour of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Sports fans, there’s a destination within Walt Disney World you don’t want to miss: ESPN Wide World of Sports. While the theme parks, water parks, and resort hotels get most of guests’ attention, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is an area that shouldn’t be overlooked. Home to an incredible array of sports venues, the 220-acre complex plays host to many different sporting events throughout the year –– including both amateur and professional sports!

If you’ve ever wanted to combine your favorite sport with the Most Magical Place on Earth, ESPN Wide World of Sports is exactly where that can happen. Whether you’re a family traveling down to Disney World for a youth sports tournament or a fan hoping to catch professional teams during MLB Spring Training, there’s a literal world of cool sports venues, opportunities to explore ESPN facilities, and of course the chance to catch some thrilling games in action.

We’re sharing everything you need to know about the complex below.

The History of ESPN Wide World of Sports

If you’ve never included a visit to ESPN Wide World of Sports in one of your visits to Disney World, you might not realize this expansive complex has been around for nearly three decades! Disney actually broke ground on ESPN Wide World of Sports back in July 1995, with the goal of creating a new sports complex that would draw fans to Disney World –– and ultimately, turn the resort into a sports destination.

ESPN Wide World of Sports officially opened on March 28, 1997 with its very first sporting event: an exhibition baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds.

Named after the weekly ABC Sports TV show Wide World of Sports, the complex wasn’t always connected to ESPN. It was actually first known as Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex from its opening in 1997 until 2010. In 2010, the complex was rebranded and given its current name.

As soon as the complex welcomed its first sporting event and its first guests, it was off and running. Within weeks of opening, ESPN Wide World of Sports was host to events like the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships and USA Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, with tenants like the Harlem Globetrotters playing on site.

In 2004, the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex got an upgrade, with even more fields and sports venues added. 20 acres of additional field space –– including four additional baseball diamond and Hess Sports Fields, which are multi-use fields. 

Venues at ESPN Wide World of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports, The Stadium, baseball diamond

Photo by Danny Shuster

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is vast, and it has enough room to host more than 60 sports across 10 different venues. Those venues are designed to accommodate a variety of athletes and athletic events, all while giving each participant the best possible competition experience –– and the chance to play at one of the world’s preeminent facilities.

When the complex was rebranded from Disney’s Wide World of Sports to ESPN Wide World of Sports in 2010, the venues onsite received some pretty impressive upgrades. Today, each sports venue is state-of-the-art, with details like HD video scoreboards, a complex-wide audio system, and even an ESPN broadcast production facility.

Here’s a look at the different venues of ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The Stadium

The Stadium is a baseball stadium, and it’s one of the original hallmarks of the complex. Home of spring training for multiple MLB teams over the years, including the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays, this stadium has 7,500 seats in the stands and lawn seating for an additional 2,000.

Today, The Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports is the recurring home of the Florida Complex League Braves (formerly the Gulf Coast Braves), the Rookie-level affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. 

State Farm Field House

The State Farm Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports is a huge arena, spanning over 70,000 square feet in size with 5,000 seats. Sponsored by State Farm, this arena is a multi-purpose space that can host everything from basketball tournaments to gymnastics and tumbling competitions.

Inside the State Farm Field House, there’s stadium-style seating around a gym floor, plus a smaller secondary gymnasium with retractable seating. It’s played host to events like the ESPN Events Invitational college basketball tournament, the Jr. NBA Global Championship, and the first game of the 2020 NBA bubble basketball season.

ESPN Wide World of Sports AdventHealth Arena exterior

Photo by Danny Shuster

AdventHealth Arena

One of the most recent additions to ESPN Wide World of Sports, the AdventHealth Arena is another indoor multi-purpose sports arena within the complex. While it can be converted and adapted for many different sports, it’s most commonly used (and was actually designed for!) cheer and dance events.

With 8,000 arena seats, this indoor space is particularly cool because it has a flexible configuration. It can transform into six regulation-sized basketball or volleyball courts. While it’s hosted cheerleading and dance team championships, it’s also been home to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals. 

Athletic Center

Step inside the Visa Athletic Center, and you’ll find one versatile indoor sports arena. This 70,000-square-foot arena is home to an impressive number of venues rolled into one. It houses six college-size basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, or two roller hockey rinks at any time, depending on how it’s configured. With a seating capacity of 1,200, it’s ideal for smaller indoor tournaments.

Marathon Sports Fields

When it comes to outdoor sports, the Marathon Sports Fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports are standouts. This field complex is made up of 17 fields, including the Baseball Quadraplex, Softball Quadraplex, and four multi-purpose fields.

Each one of these fields features a different number of seats and potential configurations for various sports and events. For example, one field offers 500 permanent seats while another has 1,000 (but can be expanded to 3,000 seats). The Marathon Sports Fields have been home to events like the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic and the USL Pro Orlando City Soccer Club.

Baseball Quadraplex

This area within the ESPN Wide World of Sports’ Marathon Sports Fields is exactly what it sounds like: four baseball fields in one! The Baseball Quadraplex features four professional baseball diamonds, plus a practice infield, batting tunnels, pitching mounds, hitting tunnels, masters pitching machines, and 10 bullpens. As an added perk, all of the fields are equipped for night games, with lights that’ll make the diamond as bright as an MLB game.

ESPN Wide World of Sports baseball fields at The Stadium

Photo by Danny Shuster

Softball Diamondplex

Softball and baseball are different games, so it makes sense for ESPN Wide World of Sports to include fields for both! The Softball Diamondplex features six fields that are designed for softball and youth baseball, with four fields arranged in a circle and two adjacent fields off to the side.

Tennis Complex

You’ll find a complete Tennis Complex with 10 clay courts, a center court stadium, and anywhere from 1,000 to 8,500 seats for spectators at ESPN Wide World of Sports. As one of the original venues at the complex, it’s been used from the very first weeks of its existence.

Track and Field Complex

The Track and Field Complex is a dedicated competition facility for track and field events. The space is designed and built to International Association of Athletics Federations specifications, with 500 seats and:

  • A nine-lane track
  • Three shot put rings
  • Two discus/hammer rings
  • A javelin runway
  • Two high jump areas
  • Two horizontal jump runways
  • Two pole vault runways
  • A 0.7-mile wooded cross-country course

Additional Venues

ESPN broadcast center, interior control room

Photo by Danny Shuster

The ESPN Production Center

Tucked inside ESPN Wide World of Sports is something that’s not exactly a sports venue, but a place where some serious sports magic happens. The ESPN Production Center is a state-of-the-art facility that spans 2,500 square feet and is entirely devoted to producing sports coverage and content. It’s like a real, working ESPN studio –– inside, there are two full control rooms, eight edit bays, 56 high-definition cameras (including robotic ones!), and 40 high-definition video screens.

The ESPN Production Center is also a full production studio, with its own customizable graphics and connections to the other ESPN studios located in Bristol, Connecticut, Los Angeles, and New York. Inside, there are screens that capture and display footage, event highlights, and even interviews that are then broadcast across the complex. But that’s not all –– the footage can also be broadcast right to different Disney and ESPN platforms, from online streaming services to live TV broadcasts.

Dining, Shopping, and More

While the sports venues are the heart of ESPN Wide World of Sports, there are also some extra amenities onsite that make it super convenient for athletes, family members, and spectators to stay immersed in the game. Plus, you won’t have to leave the complex to shop exclusive merchandise or grab a meal!

There are several dining options. Both athletes and spectators can enjoy fast casual dining at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, which is similar to Disney World’s quick-service dining options. For participants and teams, there are also special options like boxed lunches. And of course, there are plenty of food options for spectators across the venues, including snack carts and concession stands.

When it comes to merch, you’ll find it all at the ESPN Clubhouse Shop. However, it’s particularly special –– while you’ll find plenty of themed merch just for ESPN, this shop is also where athletes who are participating in games or events can find their customized team apparel!

Sports and Athletic Events Held at ESPN Wide World of Sports

Wondering what kinds of events are held at this sprawling sports complex within Disney World? While ESPN Wide World of Sports is primarily used for Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments, there are a number of prominent and professional sporting events that have taken place onsite.

Here’s an overview of just some of the events that were or are currently held at the complex:

  • 2020 NBA Bubble games
  • MLS is Back Tournament
  • 2016 Invictus Games
  • NFL Pro Bowl skills competitions
  • 1997 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships
  • Atlanta Braves spring training (1997 to 2019)
  • 2022 Special Olympics USA Games
  • Tampa Bay Rays spring training (2023)
  • WNBA pre-season tournament
  • Orlando City Soccer Club home games (2014 season)
  • Disney Spring Training (for high school and college teams)
  • Pop Warner Super Bowl
  • Disney Soccer Showcase
  • Sunshine Showdown

Throughout the year, AAU events are most commonly spotted on the complex’s calendar. You can expect about 30 to 35 AAU tournaments or events to take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports each year.

ESPN Wide World of Sports youth soccer event

Photo by Danny Shuster

runDisney Race Weekends

If you’re an athlete who loves to participate in runDisney events throughout the year, you may already be familiar with ESPN Wide World of Sports! The races runDisney holds at Disney World typically include this complex as part of the weekend’s events, whether that’s the expansive race weekend expo (home to your race bib pickup spot and plenty of exciting merch!) or the starting and finish lines of half marathons, marathons, and other races.

From the annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend to the popular runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend, runners from around the world will often head to ESPN Wide World of Sports during the race weekends. Plus, there’s plenty to see throughout the complex no matter why you’re stopping by!

Transportation to and from ESPN Wide World of Sports

Getting around Walt Disney World Resort is already a task, even if you’re just trying to figure out how the various transportation options work! So, if you’re visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, it’s a good idea to know how you’ll get there –– and travel to and from it within Disney World.

Like Disney World’s theme parks and resorts, ESPN Wide World of Sports offers bus transportation. Disney World resort guests staying at the hotels can hop on a bus to or from the complex without any charge. This is the easiest way to get around!

If you’ve arrived with your own car or a rental car, the complex also offers complimentary self-parking. However, that complimentary parking is only available to guests; if you’re just popping in to check out the grounds or attend an event, you may need to pay to park. Premium parking is available for select events, for a fee.

Frequently Asked Questions About ESPN Wide World of Sports

Can Anyone Go to ESPN Wide World of Sports?

Yes, anyone can stop by the complex! After all, it’s open to spectators for both professional and youth or collegiate events. However, do keep in mind that these events typically require admission tickets, which do have to be purchased.

You can also get admission to some events if you’ve purchased theme park tickets for Disney World with the Park Hopper Plus Option added on. Typically ESPN Wide World of Sports is included with Park Hopper.

How Much Does It Cost to Go to ESPN Wide World of Sports?

Admission prices can vary, but general admission typically costs $19.50 for adults and $14.50 for children (ages 3 to 9).

Can You Use Disney Gift Cards at ESPN Wide World of Sports?

Yes, you can! Disney gift cards are valid at ESPN Wide World of Sports, and you can use them on both meals and merchandise.

Posts by Heather Adams

epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu
Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
epcot-clothing_creations-shop_chiu

Authored by
Heather Adams

Heather is a lifelong Disney fan who grew up at Disneyland and loves spending as much time as possible in the parks. As WDW Magazine’s Content Operations Manager, Heather is a content creator and strategist with experience at a wide variety of different outlets. She’s written for publications including Clean Eating Magazine, Fatherly, The Drive, Task and Purpose, Healthversed, Nation.com, and Car Bibles. Heather also authored the book Fidget!: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Decrease Stress.
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