The NBA Might Be Going to Disney World

May 23, 2020, 1:48 PM · Typically, a pro sports champion gets to say "I'm going to Disney World!" after winning a title. But in this year of craziness, going to Walt Disney World in 2020 might become the way to win that championship.

The NBA confirmed today that it is working on resuming its season by playing all games at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Play would resume in late July and could see the playoffs and NBA Finals taking place at Disney World. The games would be played at Wide World of Sports for TV cameras only, with no fans admitted. Disney's ESPN and ABC are the NBA's primary broadcast partners and eager to get live sports back on the air, so being able to provide a safe, secure environment at the Walt Disney World Resort for the NBA to do that could be in Disney's best financial interest.

Sportswriters have been speculating for weeks now about the NBA resuming its season at a central location, either Las Vegas or Disney World. Now the league is finally confirming that it is working on such a plan and that Disney World is the choice. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been encouraging sports leagues to play in Florida during this pandemic, so it would seem that government approval for a plan would not be an obstacle, assuming the NBA and Disney come to the point where they're willing present one.

The NBA and Disney have been leaders in shutting down to slow the spread of the virus, with the NBA's suspension of its season on March 11 being the first major shutdown in the United States, followed by the Disney theme parks later that weekend. Heck, the NBA was on alert for this thing back in January. But no deal is done yet.

If it does happen, though, I can't wait to hear what the star of this year's NBA Finals says after the final buzzer at Walt Disney World: "I'm going... home, I guess?"

Replies (20)

May 23, 2020 at 2:48 PM

I'm sure there are plenty of hotel rooms available for all 30 teams and their entourages at the resort. As for theme park fans I believe they will be able to witness plenty of NBA personnel at the parks getting some time away from their hotel rooms and basketball. I don't think the athletes will be allowed to intermingle to much outside the resort in the city of Orlando. This will be your chance to see San Antonio Spurs coach, Greg Poppovich, with Mickey Mouse ears riding on Dumbo during his time off at Disney World.

May 23, 2020 at 3:03 PM

If Disney is planning on having thousands of empty hotel rooms available for NBA players, staff, and families in July and August, then it's clearly neither expecting nor planning for guests to be staying in them.

May 23, 2020 at 3:31 PM

I don't think they would need all 30 thousand rooms on property. I mean maybe, I don't know the scope of operations but perhaps the "deluxe" resorts would be filled by the NBA exclusively. Y'know like the Grand Floridian, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian and so forth. Value resorts like the all-star's and Pop Century and even moderate resorts may be available for non-NBA folks. Who knows, maybe Adam Silver and Bob Chapek, but I'm going to try to check availability at different resorts for that time and see if that provides clues.

May 23, 2020 at 4:04 PM

I'm laughing at the idea of teams' pre-Covid regular season records determining where they get to stay. The Bucks, Lakers, Raptors and Clippers get the Grand Floridian. The Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves and Hawks get the Fort Wilderness Campground.

This also reminds me of an idea I suggested back when the NFL played the Pro Bowl in Hawaii and was trying to encourage players to not just participate in the game but to actually, well, play. My idea was that all the players and their families come to the game with suitcases packed. The winners and their families would get to stay an extra week in Hawaii at the Four Seasons, on the league. The losers have to fly home immediately, in coach, seated next to the family members that they just denied a week's vacation in Hawaii.

May 23, 2020 at 4:53 PM

Funny comments so @ Popovich wearing Mickey Ears !

But more importantly...Let’s Go Raptors !!!

May 23, 2020 at 5:34 PM

Is this operating on the so called “bunker” model - no outsiders, no crowd, and the league isolating itself? Seems like the perfect place to do it... but the strain on players and family must be hell.

May 23, 2020 at 5:58 PM

"Strain on players and family must be hell"
Are you kidding me? These guys aren't going to be playing on outdoor courts in Parramore in the afternoon when the sun is out and staying at the Econolodge on OBT. They are making millions of dollars, will be staying at expensive Disney resorts, and getting free catering every day from professional chefs.

I can't be the only one here who remembers their HS football days when for summer camp they would bus you out to some place that was hot as balls, grueling practices twice a day where they would run you in the heat until you were sick, then they'd get in your face and call you a p*ssy, and you drank only between drills and from a hose that had holes poked in it.


May 23, 2020 at 6:28 PM

I highly doubt it'll be all 30 teams as far more likely NBA jumps right to a revised playoff schedule. Really, a lot of teams whose seasons were clearly over already in March (the Warriors pop to mind) so no real reason for them to try and keep going when there's no chance of a playoff shot. I know, it's brutal but then look at the 80 college schools who never even got a shot at March Madness this year.

May 23, 2020 at 8:22 PM

@Mike W - as much as I would love them to just jump right into the playoffs (with my Raptors as the #2 seed), I can see that causing some issues amongst other playoff contenders. Teams can protest the seeding being unfair, because they were only a game behind Team X, and hadn’t played the Warriors yet.

With such a long layoff, we can’t expect these teams to be in shape to jump right into playoff basketball either. There has to be some “warm up” games beforehand, and to be fair those games should count towards playoff seeding.

So even teams who have nothing to play for still serve a purpose (just not for themselves). But one way or another I think whoever wins the Championship gets an asterisk. All of this of course assuming that this actually happens, which of course is no given...

May 23, 2020 at 8:41 PM

I think it's a good idea. I read that the players' meals would be left outside of their hotel room doors, but if everyone is thoroughly tested, and it's an enclosed campus, why not open the hotel restaurants? I don't think the cast members would mind being put up in a Disney hotel for the duration of the shortened season.

I'm sure Lebron and co wouldn't mind eating at the various high end restaurants on property. Victoria and Albert's, here we come!!!

I also just read today that it's quite possible Major League Soccer will play their season at Walt Disney World, as well, and that it shouldn't cause any issues with cross contamination, so to speak.

NBA and MLS get to hang out at Disney World.

NHL....North Dakota, perhaps.


May 23, 2020 at 8:41 PM

Oh yes, it's obvious how NBA/NHL and MLB will always have the seasons with a big mark due to events. Like how the 2013 Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup but still an asterisk due to the season cut in half by a lockout. Still, they'd gladly take something at this point rather than the poor NCAA folks forever wondering who would have been 2020 National champions.

May 24, 2020 at 4:24 AM

>> They are making millions of dollars, will be staying at expensive Disney resorts, and getting free catering every day from professional chefs.

Cut off from their support systems, be it family or whatever usual vices they have, for months....

I don’t think I’d make that trade.

May 24, 2020 at 6:16 AM

@ Chad H - There have been mixed reports so far, ranging from “nobody leaves the bubble under any circumstances” to it being permitted to leave, but you must get tested before re-entering.

What has been consistent in most reports though, is the families being allowed to be a part of it as well.

Regardless of what actually happens though, if anything, I agree it will be far from a “living the dream” scenario for these guys. Nobody would chose this over going back to normal.

May 24, 2020 at 1:23 PM

Imagine how the Orlando Magic players must feel. They'll be playing the rest of the season and playoffs - I have no idea if they're good or not this year, FWIW - in their home city, but can't actually live in their homes? Brutal.

By day 3, they'll forget they're in Orlando and just think of it as work. The one big positive to it all is that they won't be logging all of those air miles, which will be a lot easier on them physically.

And I'm sure these guys, for the most part, will be sick of Disney by the time it's over that they'll be wishing their reward for winning MVP of the Finals is a trip to Universal!

May 24, 2020 at 3:57 PM

Lol @ Robert's...."The Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves and Hawks get the Fort Wilderness Campground." :)

That would be hilarious!

May 24, 2020 at 4:52 PM

CHAD H would not make a trade to be away from family for about 7-9 weeks for one million or (in some cases) more dollars. I think Chad just lost credibility among the working middle class folks in the audience. Chad must be part of that famous 1 percent of the income distribution that politico's keep talking about

May 25, 2020 at 11:34 AM

@Gabriel - The current standings prior to the Rona shutdown, Orlando would be the 8th seed in the Eastern conference. I was surprised they were doing that well. The Eastern conference is kind of a dumpster fire when compared to the West, but with all things being equal, if they started the playoffs today, they would be in.

Personally I will be cheering my OKC Thunder who are the 5th seed in the West. This wasn't supposed to happen this year with an inevitable rebuild, but hey, it's been great. Had a chance to watch them in person this season a couple of times and they play great as solid team. Whatever direction the NBA goes with, if it throws off the Clippers and Lakers and both play terrible when coming back, I'm all for my Thunder winning the championship.

May 25, 2020 at 12:45 PM

@Kris V - I totally disagree with your assessment of the East being a “dumpster fire”. In fact, I think the Champion comes out of the East again.

The ironic thing is, your Thunder have a lot more in common with the strong teams from the East, than the other teams of the West.

The West has a lot of teams with Superstar duo’s but not the greatest depth and chemistry surrounding those stars. The top teams in the East on the other hand, are all about roster depth and chemistry. How would you classify the Thunder between those two choices ? What likely surprises you about your own team’s success is that depth and chemistry can prevail over star power. It’s not about 2 guys, it’s about 8 or 9 guys when the games begin that really matter...

PS - The Magic will be around to get swept in the 1st round, nothing more, nothing less. Same deal for Memphis in the West.

May 25, 2020 at 5:55 PM

>> CHAD H would not make a trade to be away from family for about 7-9 weeks for one million or (in some cases) more dollars. I think Chad just lost credibility among the working middle class folks in the audience. Chad must be part of that famous 1 percent of the income distribution that politico's keep talking about


I’m going to give you a piece of advice someone should have given you a long time ago.

It is better to be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and confirm it.

I am not part of the 1%. I work for a small local charity providing advice, advocacy and information, particularly to the socially excludes. When I say small I mean our coverage area is a handful of suburbs. Organisations like mine don’t pay upper class wages, much less 1%. With my degree I could be earning more but you’ll pull me out of that job feet first.

If you go back into the forum, you’ll find my first time Orlando posts. Do you know why I took that trip? Because that was going to be the last time I saw my then fiancée for an unknown period of time. Other than a brief couple of weeks reunion we were seperate for 12 months, and not for the first time.

Thankfully she’s now with me permanently. And you know I do have to laugh a bit as people discover ways to have date nights virtually. But there is no amount of money anyone could ever pay me to do it again.

If your relationships mean so little to you that you would give them up for money, then I pity you, and your friends and family. And in the future, make sure you know what you’re talking about before mouthing off.

May 26, 2020 at 1:17 PM

@Chopper31 -Well the Thunder used to be a two star team (Westbrook, Durant and Westbrook, George), but now they are a weird hybrid. Before this season started Paul George bailed when they were in the process of bringing more skilled players to help Westbrook and him out. The Thunder as it stands now have some great young prospects (SGA and Dort) along with some great leadership from a veteran in Chris Paul. I think that has made the team a better contender than anyone (including me) thought they would be, but not towards a title again yet. Unlike Westbrook, Paul, and Durant, these guys actually listen to the advice of their coach. The team could possibly end up (with a few good trades and draft picks) back to what they were in 2012 at some point sooner than I would have thought.

Speaking of the two star west teams - The Clippers (as much as I don't want to admit it) are real though. When properly motivated (and not doing load management) they are impressive. The last NBA game that I saw in person this year was Clippers-Thunder in OKC. Then the Rona happened.

Okay, so maybe dumpster fire isn't quite the description I should have gave the East right now, but they have been for many years. The Bucks are scary good and I'm surprised as anyone that Toronto is #2. By the way, I was rooting for Toronto last year (one because of Ibaka- former Thunder player) and the fact that Golden State and their fanbase are, hmmm, arrogant, overconfident... I'm being somewhat muted of what I really think of them :o)

BTW, thanks for contributing good stuff here! This is far better than the weird Randos that showed up out of nowhere spouting their narrative on the Rona- on a themepark website of all things too.

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