Every week here at TouringPlans, we update our readers on which NFL and college games are showing in the Orlando market on the Walt Disney World television system. This means these games will be available in resort hotel rooms, lobby and pool bars, and other locations around the resort. While some other venues with a sports bar tilt will show additional games, they are few and far between on property. Due to the ongoing pandemic, popular sports viewing venues are closed (the ESPN Club at Disney’s Boardwalk chief among them) and other popular spots to watch games like pool bars, no longer offer bar seating. So now more than ever it is important to know which games are available and where you can see them if following your favorite team’s (or fantasy team’s) action is still important to you while on vacation.
Note that this post is updated weekly, so check back before your trip to see which games will be available while you’re at Walt Disney World.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO WATCH GAMES?
This is kind of a loaded question. For simplicity (not to mention social distancing/COVID-19 safety) the easiest place is definitely your resort hotel room. You can watch whatever game you want, with the sound on (even switch channels during the commercials) and cheer as loud as you want for every touchdown and sack. You can order pizza (just not from those places that slip a menu under your door!) and open a cold beer whenever you please without waiting for the bartender. (Although food delivery from outside of Walt Disney World is now limited due to the pandemic.) Still, the games available will be limited to whatever is on local TV and the fun, festive atmosphere of viewing with likeminded fans is not the same (especially if you’re the only one who actually wants to watch the game). With ESPN Club closed during the pandemic, the next best bet remains my usual go-to option: Splitsville Lanes at Disney Springs. They have plentiful TV’s, the ability to show out-of-market games, and there’s plenty to do to entertain non-fans in the family.
WHAT CHANNELS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE RESORT TELEVISION NETWORK?
All of the NFL broadcasters are there: CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network. For college football, all of the ESPNs are there, as well as the CBS Sports Network. Notably missing are the FOX-owned FS1 and FS2. If you’re trying to track down other sports, TBS is there for baseball and TNT for basketball.
WHAT ARE THE CHANNEL NUMBERS?
7 – ABC
8 – NBC
9 – CBS
10 – FOX
17 – ESPN
18 – ESPN2
19 – ESPN NEWS
20 – ESPNU
24 – NFL NETWORK
25 – CBS SPORTS NETWORK
WHY ISN’T MY FAVORITE TEAM ON TV LIKE AT HOME?
Since almost every NFL game and most college games take place at the same time, broadcast and cable networks mainly show local teams to the local market. If you live in Philadelphia you will see the Eagles while someone in Chicago sees the Bears, someone else in Dallas sees the Cowboys, etc. For Walt Disney World, Orlando local television is generally affiliated with Florida teams, mainly the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. College games tend to be distributed more evenly nationally but sometimes local priorities take over when there is a conflict.
SO WHERE CAN I SEE A GAME THAT ISN’T ON IN THE ORLANDO MARKET?
The best option used to be the AMC Cinema at Disney Springs that showed select out-of-market games on the big movie screen with in-seat food and drink service. With the pandemic, this has ceased. Disney Springs bars are your best bet for out-of-market games. Splitsville Lanes, as mentioned above, often shows them. There is also always the option to leave property and visit a national chain like Buffalo Wild Wings or Hooters. (The closest BWW is at Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista shopping center, 12511 FL-535, Orlando, FL 32836; the nearest Hooters is at the nearby Vista Center Shops, 8510 Palm Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32836).
WHAT ABOUT MY OWN STREAMING DEVICE?
It depends what kind of streaming you’re thinking about doing. If you can stream your home cable provider via an app, most stations that carry live football will be blacked out when not connected to your in-home wifi (this is how it works for FOX and CBS with my home Xfinity service, for instance). There are other devices, some legitimate and some configured to be less-so, that can stream directly from your home box, you may have better luck with these. And most Walt Disney World hotel televisions do have the ability to connect to your device for viewing right on the screen. You need to also bear in mind, however, that while Disney offers free wifi to guests throughout the resort, including in the theme parks, and it has been improving in quality over the years, it has been my experience that this lags too much to make streaming an entire football game enjoyable. You will probably have much better luck connecting to your own internet service, like a cellular network.
IS THERE ANYWHERE TO WATCH GAMES WHILE IN PARKS?
First off, I don’t know why you would want to. Nevertheless, if you do want to watch a game/check a score/whatever, the answer to this trivia based on our extensive research is the Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This restaurant does have televisions at the bar that can be tuned to sports. No other bars in Walt Disney World theme park restaurants have televisions. If you spot another one, let us know in the comments!
WHAT ABOUT BIG GAMES LIKE THE SUPER BOWL…DOES DISNEY DO ANYTHING SPECIAL?
As far as big viewing parties, no they don’t. The game on a big movie screen at a resort pool would be awesome but it’s not something they routinely do. Resort food courts have been known to promote viewing big events like the Super Bowl there, with the game on the TV’s and special “bar food” menu items like wings. But these events are few and far between and often pop up with little advance notice or fanfare. It’s always a good idea to check with your resort a week or two before the game to see if they have anything planned.
OK, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to the thing we all came here to find out…
WHAT GAMES WILL BE ON TV AT WALT DISNEY WORLD THIS WEEK?
LISTINGS FOR JANUARY 2021
All times EDT. Games and listings subject to change. Make sure to check back Sunday morning for updates.
These listings are UPDATED WEEKLY so bookmark this page and check back again before your trip!
Thanks for joining us for another season here! I’ll keep the playoff schedule updated as we go along but from here on out everything is nationally televised and you’ll be able to see it extensively at Walt Disney World and pretty much anywhere else. If you would like to see these posts expanded for Major League Baseball or any other regionalized sports season, let us know in the comments. Otherwise I’ll see you again in September!
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE – PLAYOFFS
Sunday, January 24
NFC Championship Game: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers, 3:00 PM, FOX
AFC Championship Game: Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 PM, CBS
Sunday, February 7
Super Bowl LV, 6:00 PM, CBS