Walt Disney World Isn't So Magical for College GameDay


ESPN is working some college football magic when it comes to “Week 0”. That portion of the schedule often features a handful of games, often with minimal interest, but pigskin fans must’ve wished upon a star for this one to happen.

On August 24, five days before many major programs open their slates, Floridian schools do battle in Orlando as the Florida Gators take on the Miami Hurricanes. The event has been dubbed the Camping World Kickoff. and is one of two games scheduled that night. Hawaii hosts Arizona in a late game on CBSSN later on.

To celebrate, ESPN is taking along College GameDay, its renowned pregame program, to Orlando. The game will open major college football’s 150th anniversary season, and the in-state rivalry is set to open a plethora of programming. To open such a historic campaign, GameDay will first descend on…Walt Disney World?

The mouse-worshiping theme park is just over 15 miles from Camping World Stadium, the site of the Gators’ and Hurricanes’ battle. Hosting the show from the Magic Kingdom theme park is not a bad idea on its own. After all, Disney World is known as the “happiest place on Earth” for a reason. There will probably be plenty of time for Lee Corso to spar with fellow fans of large headgear, namely Mickey Mouse and Goofy. Add the fact that ESPN is owned by Disney, and it plants the seeds for some great synergy.

But fans have taken to social media to grovel over the guidelines that a visit to Disney carries with it. The official social media account for the event provided a trio of Q&A’s that didn’t please many.

Banned, for example, will be the hilarious signs that launched a thousand listicles. Disney theme parks bar visitors from bringing in signs, flags, noisemakers, etc. It’s understandable from a security standpoint, but takes away a major part of what makes GameDay GameDay.

Fans have also taken issue to the fact that tickets to the park will be required to see, as the statement calls it, “a glimpse” of the set. Single-day tickets to the Magic Kingdom run $109 for adults, according to DisneyWorld.com.

Furthermore, questions have been raised about hosting the first edition of such an iconic college football program at a site that has little, if anything, to do with college football. Some have said this could’ve been rectified by hosting the show at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex, which was rebranded with ESPN labels in 2010. The facility previously hosted Atlanta Braves spring training activities and continues to hold the ESPN-produced AdvoCare Invitational college basketball tournament at a 5,000-seat arena known as the HP Field House.

GameDay faced similar questions when they placed a 2017 visit in New York City.

Coverage of the game for ESPN’s SEC Network will be on location at Camping World Stadium, working their pregame show from the sidelines.

The signs, flags, banners, etc. will presumably continue their appearances when GameDay travels to Clemson, its Week 1 location. The crew is set to play witness to the first stage of the local Tigers’ national title defense against Georgia Tech. That game is set to be the first live event on ESPN’s upcoming ACC Network.