This is a pretty unique situation! 22 teams are all headed to Disney World for the playoffs and that means a LOT of NBA players, coaches, and crews will be accommodated on Disney property. If you’re headed to Disney World during this time, you might be wondering how all this will affect your trip. We’re looking at the numbers!
What dates will the NBA be in Disney?
First, let’s take a look at the dates that the NBA will be at Disney. The teams are set to travel to Orlando between July 7th and July 11th in time for three weeks of training before the teams begin to play on July 30th. As the games continue, teams that are eliminated from the playoffs will be able to leave the “bubble,” slowly reducing the number of NBA affiliated folks in Disney World.
Each team will play eight games to determine playoff seeding. Once those games are over, the playoffs will begin in their regular format. If there is an NBA Finals Game 7, it will be played on October 13th. So, the total time the NBA will be at Disney World should be right around three months.
Will the NBA accommodations affect hotel availability?
One BIG way this could affect guests is through the number of hotel rooms that will be occupied by the teams and their affiliates. At the start of the arrangement, eight teams will be staying in Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, eight teams at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and six teams at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
Each team is allowed up to a 35-person traveling party and 17 rooms for guests. That’s a lot of hotel rooms. Let’s break down what that means for each of the affected hotels.
Gran Destino Tower has 15 floors with approximately 36 rooms each. If each team gets a floor, and one floor is set aside for guests of every two teams, the eight teams will occupy twelve of the fifteen floors of the hotel. Following the same math, the NBA will occupy half of Grand Floridian’s 867 standard rooms and over half of Yacht Club’s 539 standard rooms. And, all of that is not counting press and non-team affiliated officiants.
Coronado Springs Resort will be considered one of the main hub areas for the NBA in Orlando — that’s why all of the higher-seeded teams are placed there. If a team that is staying at one of the other two hotels makes it further into the playoffs, they could be asked to move to Gran Destino so that the other resorts can open to guests on August 24th (for Yacht Club) and September 21st (for Grand Floridian).
Keep in mind that the Yacht Club does share some amenities with Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Though all of Beach Club will not reopen until August 24th with Yacht Club, the Villas at Disney’s Beach Club Resort are open now. Still, the areas that connect to Yacht Club are blocked off with signage, and some amenities — like Stormalong Bay pool — won’t be open until the resorts open to guests.
The Grand Floridian resort is currently erecting a massive fence to keep players and guests separated (parts of the Grand Floridian resort are open to guests). Players will also have private amenities including players-only lounges in their respective resorts.
All this to say, YES, the NBA will have an effect on hotel availability. Press and officials occupying other spaces will further this effect.
So currently, guests who have reservations at the affected hotels may have to call and change their reservation to a different resort hotel during their travel dates.
Teams will leave Orlando as they are eliminated from the tournament. The finals will have only two teams occupying hotel space, so by the end of the tournament, only Gran Destino Tower will have teams occupying the space. Grand Floridian and Yacht Club will be fully open to the public by that time.
Will players have priority access to experiences?
You might be wondering if the NBA will have priority access to experiences like dining and theme park hours. In some cases, yes, and in some, you won’t have to worry. The reason the NBA is in Disney is to create a bubble. Interactions outside of their specific areas and teams will be limited, making it less likely that NBA activities will interrupt your day.
The teams will have planned excursions, separate from any that are available to guests. According to theme park journalist Scott Gustin, these excursions may include the NBA Experience, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or Wild Africa Trek.
The NBA handout includes a list of possible “excursions” at Walt Disney World including The NBA Experience, Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Wild Africa Trek. pic.twitter.com/dwHOZVr18p
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) June 17, 2020
One thing to note is that players may receive access to the parks, but it would be after guests leave for the day. We’re not sure yet if this will have any effect on park hours, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on it.
Will I see any NBA players out and about?
For basketball fans, being in Disney at the same time can be exciting! Will you be seeing NBA players out and about? Well, most likely no. Again “out and about” isn’t really the point of all this. It’s called a bubble for a reason. Will you maybe see a fancy car or bus drive by with NBA players inside? Possibly, but don’t count on it.
You might get a glimpse of players flying into the Orlando International Airport (MCO) if you’re there between July 7th and 11th, but it would be from a distance. According to Sportscasting, NBA teams typically use private jets, even in normal times. To preserve the bubble, these guys likely won’t enter public areas either.
You probably won’t see them in restaurants, in the parks, or in the lobby of open hotels, as they’ll be encouraged to stay away from others. For those staying at the Beach Club Villas, you might see them getting in the car at Yacht Club — but don’t expect to be strolling into EPCOT next to Lebron.
Plus, remember we mentioned that fence going up at Grand Floridian? It’s basically a BIG BLUE WALL — and we mean BIG. This thing is tall enough to obscure even the tallest center! Disney is taking some pretty big steps to make sure that we don’t get a peek of the players.
So, if you want to see the players in Disney World, you’ll have to tune in to the games on your TV.
Yes, the NBA might have an effect on your Disney vacation — but maybe not a huge one. Keeping these teams away from the public is important to keep them healthy so that they CAN play, which will help to lessen any meddling in your trip plans. Follow along with DFB for all the latest NBA updates!
Join the DFB Newsletter to get all the breaking news right in your inbox! Click here to Subscribe!
Will you be traveling at the same time as the NBA? Tell us in the comments!