Recently my boys and I returned from another fun-filled adventure in Disney World. Being huge sports fans, one of our family’s favorite spots during every Disney World trip is ESPN Club. We love the wide selection of games to watch and foods to eat that this restaurant has to offer. ESPN Club is very unique and the perfect place to take a break and watch the big game during your vacation. If you have a sports lover in your traveling group, please read on for all of the details.
The ESPN Club offers dining, entertainment and shopping in its three distinct areas: Sports Central, The Sidelines and The Yard. Sports Central features over 100 video monitors with global satellite feeds showing every sporting event imaginable. The space is filled with dozens of tables and booths and is adorned with fascinating sports memorabilia. You won’t miss a play with the 108 square-foot video wall, screens at the booths and TVs above each restroom stall. Off to one side is an actual television and radio studio where shows like Mike & Mike in the Morning, Sports Reporters and Up Close have been broadcast. They even interview celebrity athletes occasionally. When we were there in June, the radio announcer was doing a sports trivia game and my youngest son won a limited edition ESPN pin and was able to have his photo taken in the booth. ESPN Club now has a fan for life! The Sidelines area features another 40 plus video monitors and a full service walk-up bar. A great place to wrap up your visit to ESPN Club is in The Yard which includes a shop filled with authentic ESPN merchandise and a video game arcade.
Generally, ESPN Club does not accept reservations. However, they do have something called VIP Premium Club Seats. Fans can now make advance reservations for a space for the duration of any game playing on the big screen at Sports Central. These VIP Premium Club Seats include all of the food and beverage orders up to the cost of the seat. There are additional charges for orders exceeding the cost of each individual guest’s admission. as well as tax and gratuity. Advance reservations can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE up to 180 days prior to your visit. When we were visiting in October the pricing was $55 per adult and $30 per child (subject to change).
On a warm October evening after a full day of touring Epcot, my boys and I headed out of the International Gateway to make the short stroll to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Along the way we enjoyed the warm breeze off of Crescent Lake and the beautiful sights as the twinkling lights started to come on along the BoardWalk.
After the leisurely walk, we arrived at ESPN Club to find the place nearly empty. We were quickly seated in a comfortable booth surrounded by sports memorabilia and our very own TV.
Because the restaurant was almost deserted, we took our time to review the vast amount of menu selections. We finally decided on some appetizers, a kid’s cheeseburger and drinks. What we love most about ESPN Club is the atmosphere and varied menu; what we aren’t thrilled about are the inconsistencies in both service and quality. When this place is on, it can be spectacular; when it isn’t, it can be dreadful. Our experiences in June of this year were so positive that we made a point of visiting twice during our stay. We were hoping for a repeat performance on this trip, but I was feeling a bit apprehensive due to the emptiness of the restaurant just an hour before Monday Night Football was to begin. A few moments later our server came to take our drink order. We had met up with my parents for this meal, and my mom and I decided to try a couple of cocktails. She went with a traditional margarita, and I ordered the Long Island Iced Tea. Despite the emptiness of the restaurant, our server seemed rushed and said that she would return to take our food order. Several minutes later, she came back to drop off our drinks and take our order. She definitely was without our anticipated Disney pixie dust and was quite rude when I asked about getting some toppings of tomato and onion on my son’s cheeseburger. Even my boys noticed the server’s less-than-stellar attitude and commented on it. I always like to give everyone the benefit-of-the-doubt, because you just never know what people are going through in their personal lives, so I just let the abruptness pass. My mom and I tried our cocktails and thought them to be underwhelming. Soon enough our food was delivered. My dad had ordered a bowl of chili, my mom had picked chili fries, my oldest son and I had planned to split boneless wings and fries, and my youngest son had chosen the kid’s cheeseburger.
Despite the rough start, our server’s attitude had improved, and the food was delicious. My parents found the chili to be just the right amount of spicy, our wings were covered in a yummy sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and my youngest son’s cheeseburger was prepared perfectly and even included the toppings I had requested. My favorite part of the meal by far was the French fries. French fries are my favorite food and in my opinion, these are the best ones on Disney property. I am not a fan of the “healthy” skin-on variety that are now being served at all of the counter service locations. If I want to eat a junk food like French fries, I’m not concerned about the illusion of it being healthy. (I know it isn’t healthy; no one needs to disguise it with the skin. 🙂 ) These wonderful potatoes were crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and served with three fun dipping sauces: barbecue, ranch, and honey mustard. They reminded me of the tasty fries served on the Disney Cruise Line. After we finished up our dinner, my boys wanted to take a look at the shop and play a couple of video games before heading back to the parks for the night.
All-in-all, we enjoyed our visit to ESPN Club and plan to return again in the future!
Have you tried ESPN Club? What was your experience like? Please leave a comment!