Disney announced the disappointing news yesterday that the annual Walt Disney World event ESPN: The Weekend is no more. The event, which has been held annually at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 2004, featured appearances by top athletes, ESPN telecasts, special events and activities for sports fans, and more. Despite the fact that the 2012 dates for ESPN The Weekend had already been announced for March 2-4, 2012, the event’s cancellation is effective immediately.
Disney has explained that the event’s cancellation comes as a way for Disney to focus more fully on Walt Disney World’s year-round partnership with ESPN. The relationship between the two entities has continued to evolve over the years, particularly with the rebranding of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a change that has brought many new opportunities for both athletes and ESPN fans. The complex is also home to the ESPN Innovation Lab, which is working on such projects as the development of ESPN’s 3D network. ESPN and Walt Disney World will now also be able to focus more on creating events that showcase thousands of athletes from around the country, as they’ve been doing with the new ESPN RISE Girls Showcase and the ESPN RISE Games. The ESPN/Walt Disney World partnership will also focus on providing opportunities for sports fans to be part of events such as the Home Depot College Football Awards and the Old Spice Classic.