Disney World Events

Disney's ESPN The Weekend

Disney discontinues ESPN the Weekend - 7/22/11
After eight years, Disney has decided to no longer host ESPN the Weekend at Hollywood Studios, citing an increased year-round presence of ESPN throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. According to the Disney Parks Blog, Disney's relationship with ESPN over the past eight years has grown substantially with the rebranding of the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex which has become the development hub for ESPN's 3D network. They have decided to focus their efforts on creating more events like their ESPN RISE games which provide a stage for thousands of athletes from around the country.

Typically held in March each year, ESPN the Weekend began in 2004 and was a popular event for sports fans hoping to see their favorite athletes in a more candid environment. The 3-day event included motorcades, interviews, game shows, live ESPN show tapings, and even an interactive sports zone where guests could test their skills, sometimes against professional athletes. You can listen to the DIS Unplugged review of this year's ESPN the Weekend here.

ESPN The Weekend returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Live and taped segments of ESPN's favorite shows will be featured from both their television and radio productions.


Overview of ESPN the Weekend
by David Zanolla

The weekend’s events are scattered around Disney’s Hollywood Studios and are divided into four main categories:

Read about a "rookie" experience at ESPN The Weekend.

ESPN The Weekend


1. Motorcades, conversations, and interviews

Throughout the weekend, there were athletes who were transported down Hollywood Boulevard in motorcades with Disney characters as a way to get them to the main stage in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat.  They would then participate in panel discussions about their respective sports with ESPN hosts.  To say the turnout for these motorcades was disappointing would be an understatement.  
The panel discussions were somewhat interesting (if you were a fan of the particular sport of the session) but were very rushed as they only lasted around 30 minutes.  It was during these sessions that the mantra of the weekend was hammered home:  ‘ESPN the Weekend is about you, the fans.’  While not always successfully executed, many of the Q & A sessions did involve fan questions.  In addition, fans lined up near the stage exit in an attempt to get autographs (we also saw some of them waiting outside other backstage doors).  In comparison, Star Wars Weekends, another fan event held at the Studios, controls autograph sessions by utilizing fastpasses as an attempt to “level the playing field.”

ESPN The Weekend

2. Live tapings of popular ESPN shows
The live tapings of such shows as Baseball Tonight and ESPN First Take drew some of the biggest crowds of the weekend.  While it was interesting to witness a live television production in action (somewhat reminiscent of the early days of the Studios) the recordings became stale after a short amount of time because of very little (if any) fan interaction.  The shows filmed in the Premiere Theater felt a bit more intimate and personal, perhaps as a result of being off the beaten path.

ESPN The Weekend

3. Live versions of ESPN “game” shows: Stump the Schwab and Dream Job
The best way to describe these two events would be as ESPN the Weekend versions of The American Idol Experience.  Held in the Sounds Dangerous Theater (yes, it’s actually being used for something), these two shows each had four performances daily.  Dream Job is a reality program on the ESPN Network where contestants participate in different challenges in a competition to become a sportscaster.  Stump the Schwab is a very popular sports trivia show where contestants do battle with sports trivia genius Howie Schwab.  Both productions lasted approximately 30 minutes and involved regular guests (just like The American Idol Experience).  One selling point for these two shows was that they incorporated the celebrities that make the television versions successful.  Al Jaffe, a programming executive for ESPN participated in Dream Job and Howie Schwab himself was on stage to go head-to-head with contestants.

4. ESPN Interactive Sports Zone
Nestled in the back of the park behind Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster was a large area of interactive games that gave guests of all ages the chance to test their skills in their favorite sports.  Spread out across this backstage lot were football, golf, baseball, basketball, tennis and even fishing activities.  What made this area intriguing was the fact that the athletes in attendance for the weekend would stop by unannounced and participate with guests in their respective sports. For those who may attend this event in the future, I recommend visiting the Interactive Sports Zone early in the day, because the activities did get very crowded as the day went on.

Overall, I have mixed feelings on the weekend.  While it was definitely a nice change of pace from the normal offerings of the Studios, I don’t believe it necessitates the devotion of an entire weekend.  Had I been an autograph/memorabilia seeker, I may have seen things in a different light.  However, I think this event was more catered to fans of ESPN and its properties than fans of sports in general.  Bottom line:  If you’re already in Orlando when the event is taking place next year and you’re a fan of ESPN, you might enjoy the offerings for a day or so.  If you’re not already going to be in town, I don’t know if I’d make a special trip for it.

Champion 5K

When:  March 5, 2011 - 7:00 am
Where:  Disney's Hollywood Studios

Cost: 

Individual Registration

  • $45 by 1/31/11
  • $55 on or after 1/31/11

Team Registration*:

  • $90 by 1/31/11
  • $110 on or after 1/31/11

*Two person teams can compete in the Men's, Women's or Co-Ed divisions.

Kids' Races

Kids age 1 - 8 can race from 100 to 400 meters as part of the Champion 5K.

Entry fee is $10 per child and includes a t-shirt, personalized race bib (if registered by 1/31/11), Kids' Race finisher medal, post-race refreshments, and a goody bag.


Theme Park Tickets:

Specially priced theme park tickets are available for Champion 5K participants and their family. Tickets will be available here and will not be available with 5K registration.

For more details or to register, click here.

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ESPN The Weekend Events:
Note: Events take place at either Disney's Hollywood Studios or the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Celebrity Motorcades and Conversations will deliver athletic stars and ESPN personalities to center stage where they'll be interviewed and answer questions from the audience.

Live Tapings of Popular ESPN Shows such as Mike and Mike in the Morning, Baseball Tonight, and NFL Live

Inside ESPN - Live on Stage will feature interviews of sports stars and celebrities sharing their memorable moments

The Interactive Sports Zone gives you the opportunity to test your athletic skills and learn more about the daily operation of ESPN.

 

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2011 Daily Schedule of Events

Thursday - March 3, 2011

Time Event Location
6:00 - 10:00 am Mike and Mike in the Morning ESPN Wide World of Sports
10:00 am - 12:00 pm ESPN First Take Disney's Hollywood Studios
10:00 am - 2:00 pm The Herd with Colin Cowherd ESPN Wide World of Sports
4:00 - 4:30 pm NFL Live Disney's Hollywood Studios

 

Friday - March 4, 2011

Time Event Location
6:00 - 10:00 am Mike and Mike in the Morning ESPN Wide World of Sports
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Motorcades with athletes and characters Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Inside ESPN live athlete Q&A sessions Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Interactive Sports Zone Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Stump the Schwab: All-Star Game Disney's Hollywood Studios
10:00 am - 12:00 pm ESPN First Take Disney's Hollywood Studios
10:00 am - 2:00 pm The Herd with Colin Cowherd ESPN Wide World of Sports
3:30 - 4:00 pm Baseball Tonight Disney's Hollywood Studios
4:00 - 4:30 pm NFL Live Disney's Hollywood Studios

 

Saturday - March 5, 2011

Time Event Location
7:00 am Champion 5K Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Motorcades with athletes and characters Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Inside ESPN live athlete Q&A sessions Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Stump the Schwab: All-Star Game Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Interactive Sports Zone Disney's Hollywood Studios

*requires separate admission

Sunday - March 6, 2011

Time Event Location
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Motorcades with athletes and characters Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Inside ESPN live athlete Q&A sessions Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Stump the Schwab: All-Star Game Disney's Hollywood Studios
9:00 am - 7:00 pm Interactive Sports Zone Disney's Hollywood Studios
4:00 - 5:30 pm Baseball Tonight Disney's Hollywood Studios

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2011 ESPN the Weekend Attendees

More attendees will be added to the schedule as the event gets closer.

ATHLETES
ESPN
Anquan Boldin - NFL Skip Bayless
Joba Chamberlain - MLB Derrick Brooks
Tony Dorsett - NFL legend Tedy Bruschi
Donald Driver - NFL Linda Cohn
Julius Erving - NBA legend Colin Cowherd
Larry Fitzgerald - NFL Jay Crawford
Darrell Green - NFL legend Herm Edwards
Mia Hamm - Soccer legend Nomar Garciaparra
Brandon Jacobs - NFL Mike Golic
Greg Jennings - NFL Mike Greenberg
Karl Malone - NBA legend Merril Hoge
Kevin McHale - NBA legend Dana Jacobson
Urban Meyer - Former coach Ron Jaworski
Alonzo Mourning - NBA legend Brian Kenny
Chad Ochocinco - NFL John Kruk
Gary Payton - NBA legend Karl Ravech
Darrelle Revis - NFL Mark Schlereth
Cal Ripken Jr - MLB legend Howie Schwab
Mariano Rivera - MLB Bobby Valentine
Bart Scott - NFL Dick Vitale
Frank Thomas - MLB legend Trey Wingo
LaDainian Tomlinson - NFL  
Roddy White - NFL  
Bernie Williams - MLB legend  
DeAngelo Williams - NFL  
Jason Witten - NFL  
Appearances subject to change  

 

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