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Preparing for ESPN the Weekend

Coming up in just over a week is ESPN the Weekend, an annual celebration of sports and all things ESPN.  This is an event that has become increasingly more popular year after year yet many have never experienced ESPN the Weekend or know much about it.  If you're considering going to Walt Disney World next week, ESPN the Weekend might be the right event for you.

So what is ESPN the Weekend exactly?  It's a weekend long event that parades sport athletes active and retired around Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Included are events throughout the park that are unique to this event.  You can test out your sports IQ at "Stump the Schwab" or sit in on discussions of your favorite sport or even see how fast your fastball is. In addition, it brings a few ESPN broadcasts right into Disney's Hollywood Studios, allowing you to watch the show live. 

What I really enjoy are the panels, where you the cast of Baseball Tonight or NFL Live take questions from the audience and discuss whatever other sports fans want to ask.  It's a really fun opportunity and much more interesting than yelling at your television at home.  

For kids, the interactive sports zone located in the Rock 'n Roller Coaster parking lot (adjacent to Rock 'n Roller Coaster andnot usually open to the public), is a real treat.  Every time I walk through the sports zone, I always wish I was 14 again so I could really enjoy the offerings.  We're talking about fastball speed tests, pickup games of basketball, golf swing simulator, flag football, BMX bikes, and more.  And all of this is free.  Occasionally some of the athletes will play with the kids at one of the venues and needless to say, that is incredibly cool.

The one thing I have to warn anyone going to ESPN the Weekend about is the regarding the athletes.  There's a whole list of which athletes will be at ESPN the Weekend, like Cal Ripken Jr or Julius Irving or Karl Malone and it sounds cool.  The reality is all the list means is these athletes will appear for at least one event during the weekend and very likely will not be available to actually meet.  Most athletes come for one or two events and then are done.  It's disappointing if you thought you could see Mia Hamm only to realize she was at an event for an hour and is now gone.

The key to planning for ESPN the Weekend is to get the schedule as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, the schedule doesnt usually come out until the first day of ESPN the Weekend.  So if you're going to be in Walt Disney World, head over to the Studios on Friday and grab it (we'll post a copy here on Studios Central as soon as we get a copy).  

Once you have the schedule, look down the events and figure out which athletes and shows you want to see.  You're going to need to prioritize since some shows and athletes are only available at one time.  The good news is many of the events repeat throughout the weekend.  

Here are some more helpful tips to enjoy ESPN the Weekend

  • Remember that sports zone I talked about earlier?  The best time to see that is in the morning as it gets progressively busier and busier as the day goes on.  To avoid the longer lines, try to stop by before lunch time to ensure shorter waits for the fun events.
  • If you want to get your question asked during a Baseball Tonight or NFL Live Q&A event, try sitting at the ends of the aisles.  It's easier for the Cast Members to find you there.
  • Many athletes only appear for a motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard and then a quick Q&A show at the Sorcerer's Hat.  If you want good photos, arrive on Hollywood Boulevard 10-15 minutes early to get a good spot.
  • The televised events draw the largest crowds (Baseball Tonight, NFL Live, etc) wheras the other events are easier to catch.  If it's going to be on TV, be sure to give yourself extra time.
  • Want to try out for Stump the Schwab? Arrive at the event location at least 20 minutes early to be there for the audition process.  Ask a Cast Member when you get there about more information on volunteering.

If you want to get a taste of ESPN the Weekend but can't make it this year, don't worry because Studios Central is going to be at ESPN the Weekend all day on March 4, 2011 and we will be broadcasting live.   Stay tuned for more information!

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About this column

A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 by