Thursday, November 5, 2009

Out Of Left Field

Everyone knows that it doesn't get more American than apple pie, baseball and Mickey Mouse. So in honor of the just-completed Fall Classic, we're bringing you our favorite baseball related things at Walt Disney World - whether they're souvenirs, major Disney events, or something completely out of left field.

Casey's Corner, Magic Kingdom
Casey's happens to be one of my family's favorite counter service restaurants. This has as much, if not more to do with the old-time baseball theming than it does the actual food. While the hot dogs aren't bad (especially with their sauerkraut and mustard, or chili and melted cheese), and the kids love the mini corn dogs, it's the baseball memorabilia that's a marvel. Casey's theme is set to the turn of the century (like the rest of Main Street, USA), so its baseball is from the same time period. They have carefully hung framed photos, posters, newspaper clippings and advertisements of actual players, teams, games and products from that time period. It's like a small baseball history museum or Hall Of Fame. So while I love to take in every picture and attempt to identify each player, the kids love to camp out on the indoor bleachers and watch hilarious old-time Disney sports cartoons.

Carousel of Progress, Magic Kingdom
"And boy...nobody hits that old horsehide like that new fellah, Babe Ruth." - John (the dad)

This famous quote is from Scene 2 of the Walt original, Carousel Of Progress at the Magic Kingdom. The scene depicts the prototypical family home circa 1920, and Babe Ruth was a household name by that time in his first year with the New York Yankees (after having played several seasons with the Boston Red Sox). He went on to become the greatest baseball player the game has ever seen. This interesting little line lends cultural credibility to this memorable scene in this classic Walt Disney original.

All Star Sports Resort
We've stayed at the All Star Sports resort several times, including at the Baseball Hotel section. Typical of the rest of the All Star Resort, Sports features massive set pieces of baseball equipment including massive bats, baseball and gloves. The interior decor also has sports-themed wallpaper and art to continue the theming. This is a value resort, so the rooms are small and the amenities are few, but if you want a well themed Disney resort to rest your head at night (for relatively low rates), then Sports is a good fit.

Baseball Souvenirs
There are many baseball-related souvenirs to purchase in The Mouse. There are several different baseballs of varied design, usually coming in at around $10 (as seen in the above pic - Chance's is the Sorcerer Mickey ball, mine the white with Mickey sketches). The baseball glove, however, was a limited Disney Store edition (and a prize possession, I must say) given to me by my wife Hope for my birthday...that won't be found in just any gift store!

Team Mickey, Downtown Disney Marketplace
Team Mickey is a wonderful refuge for your major sports fan at Walt Disney World. They sell merchandise of both popular pro and college teams - hats, shirts, jackets, sweatshirts, baseballs, footballs and countless other sports-related merchandise. The Rawlings bat shop is particularaly interesting; there you can create a custom message to be burned onto a professional quality wooden baseball bat. Hint - if you're into pin trading the CMs at Team Mickey are usually loaded with great pins.

ESPN The Weekend, Disney's Hollywood Studios
This is a great annual event for sports fans who are visiting The Mouse every spring. The ESPN Sportszone, housed in the closed-off area behind Rock N Roller Coaster is your chance to hit in a batting cage, throw off a pitcher's mound, shoot 3 pointers or participate in many other activities. Professional sports stars (including Major League Baseball aplenty - especially since this is right in the middle of Spring Training) dot the Hollywood Studios. Interviews, autograph sessions and other opportunities for meeting these athletes can make a sports fan's trip special.

Disney's Wide World of Sports (Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves)
Wide World of Sports is mainly used as a destination for youth sports tournaments and competitions, but it is also the Spring Training home of the Atlanta Braves. Champion Stadium is one of the best in the Grapefruit League circuit of Spring Training facilities, and it's a great place to watch a game. Plus, it's in Disney World. How can you beat that?

Baseball-Themed Disney Pins
There's only a handful of MLB pins out there, but the pins they have are wonderful. They feature Mickey in a myriad of baseball action poses in the uniform of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, LA Dodgers and several other teams. A great souvenir for the pin collector or baseball fan (or both, like our family).

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