I’m going to be very honest in this post because I think the information I give you needs to be credible and reliable so you can make your own decisions for travel. This day was the absolute worst day of the trip. Mother Nature intervened and ruined some of our plans and I could handle that. I had backup plans, I’ve done Disney in the rain, I can handle a lot of things. What I cannot handle is the experience I had this day. Because of it, I give you the warning to attend Spring Training games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports at your own risk, because Disney won’t be helping you out when things go wrong.
ESPN Wide World of Sports
We were really excited and nervous about this day. There was such little information about this complex available online that we weren’t sure what to expect. We were also nervous because the rain that had held off all trip was looking like it was heading straight towards us. But we were really excited to see our first baseball game of 2010 and hopefully see our St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves.
First things first: How do you get to ESPN Wide World of Sports? The rules changed that same year so we had to struggle to find out. They may have changed again. Disney’s own website was not accurate when we tried to check. For us, the situation was this: If you aren’t staying at one of the value resorts, you need to get to one. Buses took guests from Disney All-Star Music, Sports, or Movies, Disney Pop Century, and Disney’s Caribbean Beach to ESPN Wide World of Sports. Since we were at Coronado Springs, we had to transfer first to a park and then catch a bus back to one of those resorts. Coronado Springs is about halfway between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, so we decided whichever bus arrived first we would hop onto. A Hollywood Studios bus showed up, we got on board and off we went. Right as our bus was dropping us off, a bus for Disney Pop Century pulled up. Perfect! We got on board that bus and got off at Pop Century. We then waited for a bus to the World of Sports. It wasn’t a minute before that bus came and we were on our way.
The first thing we noticed about the ESPN Wide World of Sports was that it was huge. There were at least 8 softball and baseball teams, gymnasts, and tons of soccer players there. The parking lot was swarming with people, cars, and buses. Luckily, Champion Stadium is right at the entrance and was easy to find. We got our tickets scanned and went directly to our seats to get an idea for the scale of the place. It was huge, no fake stadium for this spring training team.
Once we watched a little batting practice, we decided to grab some concessions.
Since there isn’t a lot on the web about the ESPN Wide World of Sports, I made sure to grab a photo of the menu for the concession stand on the upper level so you could get an idea of prices. This is accurate as of March 2010. We grabbed some hot dogs and nachos and returned to our seats. We ate up and finished just in time for the first pitch and national anthem. For the first pitch, even Mickey and Minnie showed up. It was a cute touch and Minnie even wore a cheerleader costume.
At that point it was game on. The first inning, nothing amazing happened. The score was still 0-0. Then the second inning came and the Cardinals got on the board, 0-1. Then the rain started. Then Albert Pujols was hit by a pitch and got sent to first. That was it for the umpires, they put the game on rain delay. It was right at 1:50 when this happened, I managed to take a photo of the scoreboard and it had a clock on it. We were going to wait it out. Even though the Wide World of Sports bans umbrellas, we had ponchos. So we waited.
At 2:30, they called the game. I was disappointed but not upset. We were at Disney! There was still plenty of stuff to do and in about 2 hours this would all be over and everything would be great again. This is when everything went horribly wrong.
You remember all those people I said that were doing all their sports and activities? All their games were rained out too. Remember that parking lot I said was packed full? Now there were even more vehicles and all of them attempting to leave. No worries though, I saw a Disney bus ahead. We didn’t care where it was heading, we had a few transfers to make anyway before seeing our resort. But that bus was full. And so was the one behind it. And there weren’t anymore.
Those full buses didn’t move from that parking lot for an hour. Disney has no real rain cover for its guests waiting for a bus. That means for that first hour, we waited in the pouring rain. It was pretty bad. I could have handled that. But then we saw another Disney bus. We waited as it pulled towards us. By the time it reached us, we could see it was full. We thought it was just dropping people off but no, it was full of guests like us who had waited at the park entrance instead of the bus stop so they could get on before us fools. It’s important to mention at this point that Disney doesn’t have bus service except for on the half hours for this park. So the nearly 50 of us still standing there? Had another 30 minutes or so to wait. But another bus showed up! Except its guests were from the resorts and opted not to get off when they saw us standing there. So another chance was gone. And then it got worse.
There were some shops inside the stadium we could maybe use for cover and we would have, except you can’t see the buses from them. Someone had already tried getting them to call buses for us and that failed. Besides, having missed 4 buses already, we couldn’t afford to take chances. But then the wind started. And the drains backed up and soon our feet were standing in 3 inches of cold water. Around the 2 hour mark, I didn’t think I could take it anymore. And then we saw a bus. Our group strained to see if it was heading to Caribbean Beach/Pop Century or if it was heading to the All-Star resorts. It didn’t matter too much to us, we would be getting on anything at this point.
It turned out to be a bus for cast members. The cast members on-site were closing up shop for the day and were heading home so they had called a bus to take them there. When we asked the bus driver to please take us somewhere, anywhere, he snapped that we needed to back away from the bus. Thankfully, the cast members noticed an issue with 50 soaking individuals standing there. They asked what had happened and when they arrived at their headquarters they said they would see what they could do. 2 hours and 15 minutes after we began our wait for a bus, one finally came for us. It was heading for Pop Century so we got on board but the people waiting to head back to the All Star Resorts? They were left there and told no one had been told to come for them. This was inexcusable and Disney let me and those other guests down. At that point in the day, the rain finally stopped.
I’m actually leaving out some other elements of the story because this is too long already but the events that happened that day ruined my entire day. It left me cold, in pain, and feeling like I had wasted a day. By the time we did all of our transfers again, taking the first bus that arrived, it was after 5 PM. This would be a fine time to be returning if the ball game had been played. It was inexcusable for it to have happened after only 1.5 innings were played.
When we got back to the hotel, we each took showers with plenty of hot water. We were freezing and due to health issues I have, my fingers and toes were literally blue and white. When I finally warmed up enough to venture outside, we didn’t want to venture too far. We stayed at our resort, got some pizza at the Pepper Market, and watched Harry Potter until we felt better. After putting on some sweats and my new warm hoodie, I decided not to let the day become a total waste and decided to take advantage of Magic Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours.
We arrived as everyone else was leaving for the night.We decided to skip the crowds and go right for Pirates of the Caribbean. Once that was over, I made my husband put on a happy face and try on a hat. After the day we had, he was trying to be nice and humor me. He will regret that decision when he sees this post.
After that, we went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a half dozen times. Without lines to hold us back we could do what we wanted. Except for Splash Mountain. I’d had enough water that day. We cut across the middle of the park and got some photos of the castle and its murals without all the people around. TIP: Morning and Evening Extra Magic Hours are great times to grab some photos of a nearly deserted park. We continued our walk across the park and ended up on Space Mountain. After a half dozen times on that, the exhaustion from the day set in and we went back to our hotel to pass out.