I think I mentioned this in a previous article, but I became the “water boy” for my school’s Varsity Cheer Team this year. I went to all of the football games and went with them to all of their competitions, with States being held at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. Over the past two years, I have become kind of obsessed with cheerleading, watching the high school competitions online and catching the All-Star cheerleading competitions on ESPN, when available.
Now, I am the first to admit, when I would travel to Disney not knowing that it was a Cheer competition, I loathed going to the parks. Cheerleading teams across Disney are almost as bad as Brazilian tour groups, that opinion will never change, but the competitions themselves are incredible.
Cheer culture is crazy. There are a couple local Cheer gyms in my area, with Tumble Tech being one of the biggest (and as I type this, their Alpha team are in 3rd for their division!), and the people who cheer dedicate their lives to the sport, even more than people who do sports like football or hockey.
The piece de resistance of the All-Star cheer community is Worlds which is held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports every spring. Before I became a huge fan of the sport (and if you say it isn’t, get ready for an all-out brawl in the comments), I had no clue that Disney was so instrumental in the cheer community.
Every January, the complex holds the UCA Nationals, which is based on the college competition teams. If you go during either of those times, the All-Star resorts will be filled with Instagram-taking teams doing huge stunts in the middle of the resorts, which is very abrasive if you don’t know what you are getting into. They kind of take over the whole Walt Disney World Resort during competition season.
What is mind boggling to me is how the two biggest competitions of the year are at WDW, and most don’t even realize it. People at my school are already planning trips to go to Worlds this year, and not just 4 people…A LOT! There is huge demand for Cheerleading opportunities, so Disney is smart for continuing to hold the competitions. A few years ago, I remember they had a special pin set you could collect for the UCA competition, but I’m wondering how much more they will do in the future.
I know I will be there in April to check it out and to root on one of the girls who was on my school’s team whose team, Brandon Senior White, will be competing. Let me know your thoughts on Disney and the Cheer community in the comments, I would love to know your thoughts!
(photo courtesy of Message in a Bottle productions)