Pop Warner Leaves Disney World For New Home: Universal Orlando

in Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

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Credit: Disney

Pop Warner Little Scholars is the nation’s “oldest and most prominent youth football organization.” Since 1997, Walt Disney World hosted the Pop Warner Little Scholars, which drew in nearly 10,000 Pop Warner student-athletes and their families every December.

Now, Pop Warner has found a new home — Universal Orlando.

Universal Orlando Sanitation
Credit: Inside the Magic

Pop Warner took to Twitter to announce the new partnership with Florida Citrus Sports to make Universal Orlando Resort the new home for Pop Warner National Championship Week.

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Walt Disney World has been hosting the NBA within its newly created “Disney Bubble,” which allowed the players to continue playing the game in a safe environment during the pandemic. However, due to the NBA bubble and the pandemic, Pop Warner said that “with so much uncertainty, it was difficult for Disney to commit to the future.”

Pop Warner released the following statement  explaining the switch from a partnership with Disney to one with Universal:

We continue to have a great relationship with Disney and are sure families will visit the parks that week. While Disney has played host to our Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships for years, our partnership regarding championship week came to a pause when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. We were putting final touches on a new agreement when Disney was suddenly tasked with hosting and creating a bubble for professional leagues like the MLS and NBA at their ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. With so much uncertainty it was difficult for Disney to commit to the future and because our first priority is our Pop Warner members, we decided to start searching for a new location to ensure our teams had a first-class Championship home.

pop warner florida
Credit: Pop Warner

Additional information regarding the new partnership and the future of Pop Warner can be found in the official press release, which states:

Universal Orlando Resort will be the new host to Pop Warner families staying in Orlando and the award-winning theme park destination will host the spectacular Pop Warner party during championship week.

“We’re excited to ensure Orlando will continue as our home to our championship teams and families each December. We think that’s great news,” said Pop Warner Little Scholars Executive Director Jon Butler. “Central Florida has been home to the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships for 25 years. With the weather, theme parks and access to top-notch athletic facilities, it’s the perfect location for us to come together and celebrate the season as teams compete for national titles.

pop warner florida
Credit: Pop Warner

“In Florida Citrus Sports, we’ve added another partner whose values align perfectly with our own and Pop Warner teams will be playing on the biggest stage the region has to offer. We’re excited and know they will be as well.”

Held in Orlando since 1997, the Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer & Dance Championships generate an estimated 25,000 room nights annually, as competitors and their families visit from across the country for the weeklong competition each year. The national youth sports organization is the largest in the world with approximately 325,000 total athletes ranging from 5 to 16 years old.

“Pop Warner represents the gold standard in the world of youth sports, and we’re humbled to welcome them to the Florida Citrus Sports family,” FCS CEO Steve Hogan said. “With the support of our friends at Disney, Pop Warner has laid an incredible foundation for us to build on, and we can’t wait to see the Pop Warner Super Bowl under the lights at Camping World Stadium.”

pop warner florida
Credit: Pop Warner

Florida Citrus Sports’ existing football portfolio includes the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, the Cheez-It Bowl and the Florida Blue Florida Classic — a trio of events with nearly 150 years of combined history at Camping World Stadium. The organization also partnered with the National Football League to bring the NFL Pro Bowl to Central Florida for a successful 4-year run from 2017-20 and has hosted NFL preseason games, major NCAA kickoff events and other NCAA postseason contests at the facility.

“We’re proud of our long history as Orlando’s community quarterback, and we’re excited to take on this new, but familiar challenge,” Hogan said. “Our organization has spent decades building relationships and investing in unique opportunities to drive impact throughout Central Florida, and we’ll continue to be aggressive when it comes to pursuing partnerships that align with our mission.”

pop warner florida
Credit: Pop Warner

Are you surprised to see Pop Warner move from Walt Disney World to Universal Orlando? Let us know in the comments below.

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