If you’re like me, the coming of fall signals two things – the best time of year to go to Walt Disney World and the best time of the year for sports! College and pro football, the baseball playoffs, NBA and college basketball tipoff – it all happens in the fall. So if you’re a die hard sports fan who doesn’t like to miss your favorite team, but you’re also in love with the Food and Wine Festival, what do you do?
This has happened to me before. I’ve been in Walt Disney World for BCS National Championship games, bowl games, World Series games and more. Most of the time, I simply use my phone to get updates, but if you really want to watch the game, what options do you have?
Your room – Sure, it’s not the most exciting option, but you can have a good afternoon or evening back at your resort with a room service pizza and your favorite game. The drawback, of course, is that you’re not soaking up a whole lot of Disney magic, not to mention that unless you’re staying Deluxe, the TVs probably don’t measure up to what you have at home. No, the room, while a viable fallback, isn’t the best option. What else is out there?
ESPN Club – Now we’re talking. Located on the Boardwalk, the ESPN Club is like a typical sports bar on steroids, with ESPN logos plastered everywhere. There are multiple TVs at the bar and in the restaurant, and it does not require an Advanced Dining Reservation to go there. The food is tolerable, but not quite up to Disney World standards. The drink menu is standard, including the beers, but all in all, it’s a good option.
The issue I have had when watching a game here is that the multiple TVs combined with trivia contests, kids having dinner here just because it’s ESPN and the noise from the Boardwalk make it awful difficult to concentrate. When your team is driving for the winning score, you don’t really want to hear about how little Timmy was scared of Goofy this morning. That said, it’s still not bad, especially if your team is not one of the big national games that day. ESPN Club will have the game on, just ask them to turn it on for you.
River Roost Lounge – Alright, bear with me here. If you’re down at Walt Disney World, odds are that you’re with family or friends. Not all of them are going to be interested in watching a game with you. Nor should they be, honestly. But you and I know that fandom goes on, regardless of your location. The River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside is a good option for you to solve this conundrum.
You may have heard by now of Yeeha Bob Jackson, who performs at Port Orleans several nights a week. I can testify personally that his show is amazing, and lots of fun for kids of all ages. I can also testify that there’s a couple of TVs behind the bar at the River Roost Lounge. You see where I’m going here? A compromise with the group would be to go to the River Roost Lounge, see Bob do his thing, while you can watch the big game on the TV behind the bar. You, too, can enjoy Bob’s singing and piano playing in breaks during the game. That said, this is not my favorite option.
Tambu Lounge – No, the Tambu Lounge at the Polynesian has to be my favorite place in Walt Disney World to watch a game. Not sure if it’s there all year round, but in the fall, behind the check-in stand for ‘Ohana, there is a glorious huge television, and on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s always tuned to the biggest football game.
Grab a Lapu Lapu from the bar, order up some famous ‘Ohana wings, and sit down to enjoy your game here. A couple of years ago I saw a Vikings-Packers game here, and it was probably the best time I have had at the Tambu Lounge. And that’s saying a lot. I love the Tambu Lounge. There’s plenty of seating around the lounge, but not plenty by the TV. My advice? Get there early, enjoy your food and drink, and have a great time watching the game.
So that’s my list. What’s yours? After all, I’m heading down in October, so I’m looking for more suggestions.