Cooperstown or Cal Ripken’s? Which is better?
This is the part 2 of 2-part series; Which is better Cooperstown tournament or Cal Ripken's in Disney World? Some friends asked me and my husband about these two tournaments. Today, I will write about my experience on Cal Ripken's in Disney World. After you read my blog and do some of your own research, you will be the judge. I think it all comes down to the personal experiences and preferences. If you are interested, here is the Part 1 for you.
Cal Ripken’s? What? Where was it? How much?
Since we just went the Cal Ripken’s tournament last July (July 2021), my memory is still fresh. All I have to say is it is so wrong to be in Florida in the summer!!! It was HOT and HUMID! But it was fun as usual because my younger son’s team is like a family. We are probably lower D2 level travel baseball team but the boys play well together because they all get along very well. The parents are very nice and we worked very hard together to raise money to go to this tournament. Maybe I can write about fundraising sometimes because we raised $13,000 in 4 months! Good job, parents!
According to the Cal Ripken’s Experience website, there are many tournaments hosted by them. Looks like we went to one of the Week-Long Experiences. I think the registration/participant fee was around $400/player. It doesn’t include accommodations, meaning there is no barrack for the players and coaches to stay. So, we all stayed at the Grove Resort. Please visit their website for more accurate and detailed information. It doesn’t look like there will be a Ripken’s tournament at Disney World in 2022. Some people are probably wondering why Disney World? I'm from the West Coast and I didn’t understand a tournament in Disney World, either. It turned out there is a big sports venue in Disney World called ESPN Wide World Sports Complex. This place is huge! There are multiple soccer fields and baseball fields outside and a big multipurpose gym located by the main entrance that used for gymnastics, cheer & dances, volleyball, basketball etc. Apparently, many tournaments and sports events are held there year around.
How was the tournament? What to prepare? What to expect?
We played at baseball fields outside. The fields were kept very well and there were bleachers for the spectators to sit. The bathrooms were very clean thanks to the cast members. We brought our canopies, chairs, coolers with drinks etc. as usual. Almost forgot about the portable fans! You need some portable fans at baseball fields especially in the South during the summer. It was like the normal tournaments that we usually go on the weekends. The parking was free for our tournament. We didn’t have to pay for the gate fee either. But we did have to register (free) to get a pass to get inside of the complex prior to our trip to FL.
A thunderstorm rolled in while we were there, of course. It did give us some breaks from the heat a little but we had some delays. Just like Cooperstown, the organizer squeezed all the games within the scheduled day. We played until around 10pm one night and there was another game after us! I don’t know how many games they had to play but I can only imagine that it was a long evening for them.
1. A Flag of Cal Ripken's Experience in Disney World, FL. 2. Look at the size difference! My son is small LOL 3. It was hooooot in FL. My son looks like a guy at a fish market in Japan.
What kind of teams participate in the tournament? Are we good enough?
It can be intimidating to go to those big tournaments. We were wondering if we would be good enough to participate in the tournament, too. At this tournament, we saw many teams of different levels again just like the Cooperstown tournament. It was different that they had tournaments for different ages, while the famous Cooperstown tournament is only for 12U. The biggest difference between Cooperstown tournament and Cal Ripken’s tournament was that we had 3 brackets for 3 different levels at Cal Ripken’s; Gold, Silver and Bronze. Just like any other tournaments, we play some games in a pool first. The result from the pool determines which championship bracket you play in. This means that all the teams have a possibility to win a championship. For example, we lost miserably during the pool games facing hardcore D1 travel teams and very good D2 teams. We felt defeated and even the fun swimming pools at our hotel weren’t cheering us up T_T. We were placed in the Bronze bracket. We kept winning and winning and winning… As a result, we won the Bronze bracket championship! We weren’t bad. The teams in our pool were just too good. (Yes, my cup is always half full!) There were a couple of teams from Puerto Rico, a team from the Bahamas that we faced in the championship game as well as travel teams from all over the US. We might be from different places and cultures, but we all enjoyed playing baseball. The kids exchanged pins and bracelets before we left the field. We might go to the Bahamas for a tournament next summer since the Bahamas team coach invited us to their tournament. Let’s see how the COVID works out.
4. We visited Epcot once the tournament ended. 5 and 6 The water park at the Grove, had a couple of big slides and a lazy river.
7. We won the championship in the bronze bracket! 2. My son with the championship ring and the medal
What is the schedule like? Where did you stay?
Most of the teammates checked into the hotel on Saturday and there was an opening ceremony with homerun derby and other fun team competitions on Sunday at the main field at ESPN Wide World Complex. We played pool games on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We moved on to the bracket games on Thursday and championship game on Friday. Between the games, some families went to the Disney World or Universal Studio and some went to the water park at our resort and had a good time there. We stayed at the Grove Resort and they had nice restaurants, deli, and coffee stand inside. Since it wasn’t one of the Disney Resort hotels, we had a lot more room and amenities for the same money. For example, each room had a washer and dryer. It helped us a lot since we could wash the baseball uniforms and pants in our room. The location wasn’t bad either. It was about 10-15 minutes to the ESPN Wide World Sports Complex by car. The restaurants and grocery stores were only about 5 minutes away by car and it was very convenient.
So, what do you think?
As I said in my previous blog, I am very thankful that we had a chance to go to both tournaments because they were very different but very fun. I summarize my pros and cons of both tournaments here. Please remember that the summary is based on my experiences and not based on intensive research or anything.
Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament:
- Tournament in the Cooperstown
- Food and accommodation are included in the registration fee
- Stay in the barrack with teammates and coaches
- Play against the teams all over the country
- Opportunity to visit the Hall of Fame Museum
- The town is all about baseball
- Once in a life of experience at the home of baseball
- Nothing but baseball, absolutely nothing
- Parents stay separately from the players, not sure if they were taking shower or changing their clothes…probably not.
- Not many restaurants
- Dark (I grew up in a city in Japan. We always have buildings and lights)
- Not easy to get to because it is middle of nowhere
- Limited accommodation choices
- The registration fee is higher
Cal Ripken’s Experience in Disney World
- Tournament is in Disney Word
- Registration fee is more reasonable
- Parents have more control over the players
- Visit Disney World during the downtime
- Close to nice restaurants and stores
- Easy to get to
- Many hotels to choose from
- Participating teams from all over the country and some from the Bahamas
- Every team had an opportunity to win the bracket championship
- 12U teams as well as other age teams
- Players stay with the parents
- Not much pin exchange
- Not much baseball feeling other than being at the field
- Not in Cooperstown
- Food and accommodation are not included in the registration fee
Like I said, you will be the judge. I like them both because we had a great time in both tournaments. The experiences are very different but they were both good with full of precious memories. The winning is nice but I sure don’t want go to those tournaments with people that I don’t like. We have been blessed with nice players and their parents when we went. I don’t know how long my sons will play baseball and we encounter not so nice coaches and players sometimes but youth baseball has been such a fantastic experience for us. You don’t have to go to all of them but I highly recommend to go to a big tournament if you have a chance.
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