When my husband accompanies me to Walt Disney World in the fall and winter, his biggest concern is not where we’re going to eat or which new attractions we’ll ride, but rather where can he watch his beloved New York Giants play football on Sunday.
Never fear, sports fans, there are indeed places at Disney World where you can watch your game.
Watching the Game in Your Hotel Room
If you’re a Florida sports fan, or if your team happens to be playing a Florida-based team, your game of interest could be playing on the local TV channels and accessible from the comfort of your own hotel room.
Benefits of watching in your room are that you have easy access to your own bathroom, you can flip channels at will, you can bring in whatever drinks or snacks you want, and you don’t have to contend with possibly vocal fans of the opposing team.
The major NFL broadcasters are there: CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network. For college football, all of the ESPNs are there as well as FS1, Big Ten Network, and SEC Network.
On your Disney-owned hotel TV, the relevant channel numbers are:
- 7 – ABC
- 8 – NBC
- 9 – CBS
- 10 – FOX
- 17 – ESPN
- 18 – ESPN2
- 19 – ESPN NEWS
- 20 – ESPNU
- 22 – ESPN Deportes
- 24 – NFL NETWORK
- 25 – Big 10 Network
- 26 – FS1
- 27 – SEC Network
Other sports may be available on TNT, TBS, or the Golf Channel, all of which are on the Disney hotel TVs.
Watching a Game in Your Hotel’s Lounge
Many bars and lounges in the Disney hotels are equipped with TVs (Geyser Point at the Wilderness Lodge and the Steakhouse 71 Lounge at the Contemporary are just two examples). However, these bars have the same channel selection at the TV in your room. These locations may work for you during the Super Bowl or other game of national interest, but won’t be much help if you’re looking for an off-market team’s regular game.
Watching a Game on a Mobile Device
Mobile streaming services and devices may work in your hotel, or they may not.
Depending on what type of sports networks you subscribe to, you may be able to pick up a game on your laptop, tablet, or phone. You might also be able to access games on your hotel TV by using a portable device such as a Fire Stick, Roku, or Slingbox. But be aware that 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. Your mileage may vary.
I have successfully used a FireStick in WDW hotel rooms many times, but during my most recent visit, I was unable to get it to connect in my room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
During this same trip, my husband was able to get his NFL RedZone subscription to work on his iPad, but that does not provide entire games, nor is it a large screen.
Watching Your Game at a Sports Bar
If your interest lies beyond teams broadcast in the Florida market, you’ll need to find a location that can play a wider selection of games, typically one with satellite access – aka, a sports bar.
Even if you can find the game in your room, many prefer the bar experience. Watching a game at a bar often involves meeting other fans (both for and against your team). You also have servers who will keep you supplied with a steady stream of cold beverages, and you’ll likely have the ability to watch several games at once.
Off-campus options for sports viewing include Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters. Those who like to imbibe while watching football will want to factor the cost of an Uber/Lyft/taxi into their planning, as drinking and driving is a definite no. Potential alcohol consumption makes finding a sports bar on Disney property appealing – you can get back to your hotel or other destination using Disney’s free transportation system, with no need for a car.
The former premier sports viewing location at Disney World, the ESPN Club at the Boardwalk, closed during the pandemic and is now permanently shuttered. The worthy replacements for the ESPN Club are both located at Disney Springs: City Works and Splitsville.
City Works is located on the far West Side of Disney Springs, near the large Cirque du Soleil tent and across from House of Blues. Your best parking options are the Orange Garage or the Watermelon Surface lot.
City Works has an EXTENSIVE beverage menu, including stouts & porters, wheat beers, macro lagers, pale ales & IPAs, independent lagers, golden and amber ales, strong IPAs, Belgian brews, fruited and sour beers, as well as ciders, spiked seltzers, red and white wine on tap, cocktails, and soft drinks. The classic food menu, available all day, includes several burger variations, and pub favorites such as Buffalo chicken dip, queso dip, fried pickles, and smoked chicken wings. Don’t worry if you’re trying to keep your calories in check – there are several soup and salad options as well.
If you’re there for the early game, you’ll also be presented with the brunch menu (served weekends until 3:00 p.m.) which includes eggs, pancakes, French toast, donuts, breakfast tacos, huevos rancheros, and avocado toast.
If you want to make sure that your game is on one of the dozens of TV screens, and that you get seated next to the right screen, stop by or call the restaurant in advance and let them know what you’ll want to see. My husband did this three days before the game he wanted to watch. They made a note on his reservation and when we arrived on game day, his game was on and we were seated with a clear view of its main broadcast screen. Overall we had a fantastic experience – great sight lines to the game, good food and great drinks, and an attentive, friendly server.
Splitsville, an entertainment complex with bowling, live music, and dining is also located in West Side area of Disney Springs, with the Orange Garage providing the most convenient parking. Splitsville is Derek Burgan’s preferred sports viewing venue at Walt Disney World, which should be all the endorsement you need.
Splitsville has outdoor TVs as well as viewing at some indoor bar spots. Dining options here include pizzas, sushi, burgers and sandwiches, and bar snacks like loaded fries and nachos. The beer selection here is not as extensive as the one at City Works, but they offer more wine options and a similar array of cocktails.
With any sports bar viewing, you’re likely going to be seated at the venue for three or more hours. These types of locations are used to guests lingering on game day, but since you will be preventing the table from being turned over, please keep your server in mind and tip generously.
Watching Your Game at the Parks
Let’s set aside the question of why you’d want to pay for theme park admission to watch TV. (If you want to periodically check a score on your phone while you’re at the parks, we won’t tell.)
Nevertheless, the only sports viewing option we’ve found at the theme parks is at the Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can access this restaurant without paying park admission, though you will have to pay for parking if you’re coming with a car and you’re not an annual pass holder or staying on site. This restaurant does have televisions at the bar that can be tuned to sports. No other bars in Walt Disney World theme parks have televisions.
Thank you to Neil Trama for researching a previous version of this post.