Hanging With Mickey at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports

Being an athlete well, the mother of athletes! has some pretty awesome perks: Friday night lights. Trophies galore. Healthy kids. And invitations to Disney! For sure, Mari and Lila recently were invited to witness the unveiling of the HP Field House at Disney’s ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex. And lucky us Mari and Lila agreed to let us tag along. Here, a recap of our journey:

Mari, hanging out outside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex


The girls were pretty geeked to be at Disney (of course) but what none of us knew about was this jewel of a park the sprawling ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Opened in 1997, the sprawling 230-acre facility hosts some two million athletes, coaches and fans at more than 300 sporting events annually, including spring training camp for the Atlanta Braves and countless youth, amateur and professional games and competitions. Basically, it’s Heaven for athletes and diehards.


(L-R): Gary Elliott, vice president of Brand Marketing for HP, U.S. Women's Soccer legend Mia Hamm, Mickey Mouse, Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises, and Jason Witten, NFL All-Pro tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.

We had front row seats to see the unveiling of the 165,000-square-foot HP Field House, a multi-purpose facility that got a serious upgrade, courtesy of HP. Soccer legend Mia Hamm joined NFL star Jason Witten and ESPN Radio personalities Mike & Mike and, of course, MICKEY(!) to introduce all of the new techy enhancements HP made throughout the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.


Lila and Mari with soccer legend, Mia Hamm

For those of us who are a little, um, sports challenged (insert image of Denene waving her hand wildly, here), know that there’s some pretty cool stuff happening at the facility, which is the actual testing ground for all of the technical innovations you see during games and broadcasts on ESPN. The high-def programming? The 3-D technology? The camera footage that captures every juicy angle of all of the hotties, um, athletes during the games? That’s all developed and tested right there at the facility. But really, none of it was as cool for my girls as getting to meet and pose for pictures with the woman, the icon, the legend, soccer sensation Mia Hamm. Like, seriously? My little soccer stars both Mari and Lila have been playing practically since they were able to fit cleats were TOO geeked to meet her, and Mia, a mom of twin girls, was so very gracious to them. Mom-to-mom, I’ll never forget that. I will say, though, that I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more representation of female athletes at the complex; there are some incredible female athletes playing in a myriad of sports and it would have been nice to see some of them join Mia in the ESPN the Weekend events surrounding the unveiling, which included stars like Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning, and Julius “Dr. J” Erving. If we want girls to appreciate that they can be more than just the cheerleaders at the boys games, we have to show them the awesomeness of our best and brightest female athletes.

Be clear: Mickey Mouse is an Atlanta Braves fan. My husband Nick is not. Well, that’s not fair: He likes the Braves. But he LOVES the Yankees. So when it came time to get his ESPN the Magazine cover shot on at the photo booth at Champion Stadium, your man refused to suit up in the red and blue. Ha! Shortly after, we settled in for an exhibition game between the Braves and the Detroit Lions.



All-in-all, we had a fantastic time and really appreciated that Lila and Mari allowed their parents to traipse along with them to Disney. We did stay for a few extra days to enjoy the park; I’ll share those pictures in another post on another day.

In the meantime, I’d love it if you hopped over to the MyBrownBaby page at Parenting.com’s The Parenting Post to read and comment on my latest essay, “Just Let the Girls Play,” about why Nick and I encourage our babies to play sports and the fear and anger that comes when people saddle their stupid stereotypes of female athletes on little girls. It’s a conversation we moms NEED to have with one another stat!

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Lila and Mari are certainly some fortunate little girls! BTW, no self-respecting New Yorker would done anything other Yankees para. when the occassion arrises….or maybe a lowly Mets one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Denene@MyBrownBaby

      HA! That’s what Nick said! Mind you, your boy didn’t even know we’d be taking pictures, much less pictures in Braves shirts. He just happened to have his Yankee T on up under his jacket, and when called to take the photo, he turned up his nose at the Braves jersey and said, “I got this!” LOL! New Yorkers. You GOTTA LOVE US!

  2. I’m with Micky… not that I watch baseball, but because I’m a GA fan all the way! Those are some beautiful lucky little girls you have there!

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