If you are in need of Cooperstown Dreams Park tips, we have just what you’re looking for! Read our parents guide to this popular summer Cooperstown baseball tournament for everything you need to know before you go.
Cooperstown Dreams Park Tips – A Guide for Parents
We recently returned from a wonderful week in Cooperstown, NY. My son participated in the Cooperstown Dreams Park 12u baseball tournament during week 12 in 2019 (did you go in week 12 of 2019? Tell us below, say hello!). We travel often and couldn’t wait to experience the extremely popular Cooperstown baseball tournament, which draws hundreds of thousands of youth players and their families every summer for some good old fashioned baseball!
It would be an understatement to say that the kid had a blast! He went with his All-Star team of amazing kids that he has been playing with for many years. By the second day, some of the kids learned that they were under the birthday cutoff of May 1 and they had already planned to come back next year!
Of the 104 teams that we played with during our week, we came the farthest, from San Diego, CA. It was a huge, amazing experience that took a lot of planning and, yes, cash. If you’re considering making the trip, we highly recommend that you go for it. Here are our top Cooperstown Dreams Park tips and things to know from a family who has been there!
About Cooperstown Dreams Park
This information comes directly from the CDP page:
- Dreams Park was founded and constructed in 1996 on State Route 28 by the Presutti family.
- Over 1,000 Little League, travel, Pony, and independent teams come from across the nation to play in Cooperstown each year, the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- There are 22 fields and 104 barracks on the 165-acre Baseball Village.
- Players must be 12 years old or younger on May 1st of the year of attendance.
- Skills competitions include “King of Swat”, “Road Runner”, “Around the Horn Plus”, and “Golden Arm.”
- Teams are guaranteed 7 games (weather permitting) and 24-hour security, medical staff, game balls, lodging, uniform laundry service, 3 meals per day, and some uniform pieces are provided.
- All players, coaches, and umpires are inducted into the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dreams Park tournament costs and how to register
Registering for a Cooperstown baseball tournament should be easy, but unfortunately, it’s not. Its popularity means that most, if not all weeks during the summers end up sold out far in advance.
This year in 2019, the player tournament fee was $995 each, for players and coaches. Starting in 2020, the Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament cost is $1,095, then it goes up to $1,295 in 2021 and 2022. This rate is all-inclusive, coming with food, lodging, partial uniforms, warm-up gear, all games, and so much more!
To register, you fill out a Dreams Park registration form a year in advance indicating your top 3 preferred weeks of attendance along with a $1,000 deposit. They’ll have you mail in a paper copy and a money order or cashier’s check. By October 1, they will indicate in writing which week your team will play, if any are available, and the next $3,000 is due November 1. The full remaining balance must be paid by March 1 of the tournament year.
Currently, Cooperstown Dreams Park is accepting registrations for 2021 and 2022 tournaments. I highly suggest you apply as soon as you know you have a team that wants to go. You must have a minimum of 11 players and 2 coaches per team. You will also have to provide an umpire who stays in the barracks for free. Click here for more registration information.
Cooperstown Dreams Park tips – fields and facilities
Ahhh… Baseball Village, where it all happens! This large, beautifully landscaped field is home to the players and coaches for 7 days and 6 nights, and all games happen right here.
- Cooperstown Dreams Park has 22 fields spread across 165 acres of land. All fields have a 50-foot mound distance, 70-foot base paths, and 200-foot fences. Home run city!
- Your team’s game schedule and barracks number will be given to you when your team checks in on Saturday morning.
- The barracks are located in the center of the property in between all of the fields. No matter where they play that day, they will be close by.
- There are batting cages and large grass areas for teams to hit and warm up. With so many teams, it can be hard to find a cage for your team. Our coaches advise getting there as early as you can. We saw teams practicing in a small grassy area behind a restaurant across the street!
- Parking and admission are free, every day, every game.
- There are 3 parking lots, A, B, and C, and they serve different parts of the village. Lot A is closest to fields 1-10, Lot B is near fields 11-14, and Lot C is best to access fields 15-22. Here’s the map of the facility.
- There is a free transportation system that takes you from the parking lots to the field of your choice. There are benches and golf carts marked “transport” and they can be used by anyone.
- The Retail Center has every Cooperstown branded baseball gear souvenir and item you’ll ever need.
- The Photo Center is great for ordering game shots of your kid and their team. Expect a professional photographer at most day games and sign up for an account to view all photos of your team. They are wonderful!
- Homerun ball – You can get a Cooperstown baseball engraved with the wording of your choice in the Photo Center.
- Here’s what the spectator areas look like in each field. They have plastic green lawn chairs, probably because it always rains. Half of the area is shaded, half is open, and there are no risers for easy viewing for the people sitting behind. Get there early for your preferred seat.
- There is a tented Family Village near the Retail Center with tables, seating, and shelter from the elements.
- There are plenty of snack bars located throughout the Baseball Village. No matter where your team is playing, there will be a concession stand nearby. Prices are extremely affordable as well.
Click the image below to zoom in on the snack bar menu.
- Restrooms are generally located near all concession stands. There are plenty.
- There are family-style BBQ’s on Saturdays and Thursdays.
- Opening ceremonies and the final championship game happen at Little Majors Stadium, field #3.
- Fields are well manicured and maintained. Rain is efficiently and immediately removed from fields following a storm.
- Note: This is not Cooperstown All-Star Village. That is a separate facility about 20 miles away.
General Dreams Park schedule of events
Outside of any weather delays or any other rarity, the Dreams Park schedule for the week is pretty much set. Here is a general snapshot of what your week will look like:
- Friday – Arrive in Cooperstown, take advantage of early check-in at 6PM (must be pre-arranged)
- Saturday – Teams check-in with Dreams Park, generally 8:30AM – 11AM
- Family BBQ available
Player and coach orientations
First team Dinner
Opening Day Ceremonies take place
Skills competitions happen after ceremony ends
- Sunday – Pool play games
- Monday – Pool play games
- Tuesday – Pool play games
- Wednesday – Bracket begins, single elimination
- Thursday – Final bracket play
Family BBQ available
- Friday – Move out of barracks by 9AM
Cooperstown Dreams Park barracks – the food, showers & restrooms
Here is some feedback from our players and coaches about the Cooperstown Dreams Park barracks. Our team stayed in barrack 48A.
- The Cooperstown Dreams Park barracks are a single room lined with about 6 bunk beds on each side of the room. There are a couple of windows on each side of the building, there is NO air conditioning, and power outlets are scarce. Pack a clip-on portable fan and a power strip for your player.
- Parents are allowed to help move their players into their barracks on Saturday morning at 8:30 AM. Everyone who is not a player or coach must exit the village by 11:00 AM sharp or the team risks forfeiting a game. See the items on the packing list below so you don’t forget anything for their dorm.
- There are two large foot lockers at the base of each bunk bed for storage. You can bring 2 combination locks to store any valuables.
- There is no place to hang anything – towels, clothing, uniforms, etc. Rolling luggage can be placed under the lower bed, plus we recommend some sort of clips or hangers so their shower towels dry and don’t get moldy. Our coaches brought a line and tied it to the rear two bunks against the back wall as a clothesline. These over the door hangers work well on the metal bars of the bunk beds.
- All baseball gear stays outside in a storage container that stays in front of your barrack. It is covered, locked, and protected from inclement weather.
- The Baseball Village at Cooperstown Dreams Park has an arcade, a dining pavilion, and a concession stand for players and coaches only.
- Players can be checked in and out by their parents with their coach’s permission. A blue slip is filled out, signed by a coach, and left with the security guards. When you come back, they return the slip to you, ensuring that all players have returned safely. They must re-enter with their coach to get back into the Baseball Village.
- Some of the players and coaches say that the food served is not very good. We heard that the french toast was ok, as well as the sandwich at lunch, and the baked ziti. Otherwise, they disliked most of the meals and were happy to come out to eat with us when their games were over!
- The restrooms and showers at Dreams Park get quite disgusting because lots of boys = YUCK. Restrooms are full of bodily fluids, vomit being one of them, and the showers are basically one large room where players will shower with their whole team and about 40 other players at the same time. We definitely recommend flip flop sandals and swim shorts to wear during all showers, plus body wash as opposed to bar soap. Could you imagine dropping it on the floor? I am disgusted!
- There is a strict 10:30 PM curfew every night. Security guards check each and every one of the barracks at night to make sure each player is in bed. Our coaches made sure everyone was back by 10 PM to avoid consequences, which they heard was a game suspension.
- There is nothing but beds, footlockers, and walls in the barracks, so my son suggests that you make sure you bring some activities and games. He says they played with a football and Wiffle ball/bat outside and playing cards and other games for evenings indoors. He also suggested bringing a small power strip for charging, a mini portable fan, and earplugs for sleep talkers and loud snoring coaches!
Pin trading at Cooperstown Dreams Park tips
PIN TOWEL PIC COMING SOON.
Trading pins at Cooperstown Dreams Park is SERIOUS BUSINESS. We didn’t realize how serious it was until we got there and saw the players, coaches, parents, and even siblings in a trading frenzy!
Collecting the biggest, best pins was the ultimate goal. Some of them lit up, had spinning parts, shined in all gold, and some were huge – 3x as big as the others. These pins are custom made for each team and pre-ordered months in advance, prices range from $2 to $20+ per pin.
I will tell you that our pin was pretty small, about the $2-$3 range and the kids were not thrilled. It has been said that the staff members get in on the pin trading and some of them, even the rumored “wicked witch,” have amazing pins. This is what they were looking for, they call it the Big Chungus…
Other Cooperstown Dreams Park tips for parents and things they don’t tell you
- Your player needs a physical, which requires an office visit. The form has to be signed by a licensed physician, so don’t miss this important detail. It is in the Cooperstown parent camper kit, but there is a lot to read and it can be easily overlooked. We almost missed it!
- The website says that a twin fitted sheet is provided, but it’s really more of a plastic, slippery protective cover. Bring your own twin sheet set, it will be guaranteed clean and you’ll have a top sheet, too. The kids said that the beds were ok comfort-wise, but feel free to bring a twin-sized mattress pad.
- If you’re flying into New York, you will need a bag large enough to check your baseball bats, helmets, catchers gear, and other large items. They cannot be carried on the plane into the main cabin. This long rolling baseball bat bag zips up and is perfect for checking at the airport.
- Most people assume that upstate New York is crazy hot all summer long, but this is not always true. Some evenings in the barracks are warm, and some end up pretty cold, so make sure your player brings sweat pants and a blanket. See, here’s a rainy day…
- Each team will provide their own umpire. Ok, so they do tell you about bringing an umpire. But some teams are surprised when they hear that they will have to pay an umpire fee if they don’t have one. They stay at the barracks for free, but teams are responsible for getting them to Cooperstown. Umpires do not work any of their team’s games.
- It will rain. Bet on it. Storms come from almost out of nowhere and boy does the rain come down hard! Umbrellas suck at stadiums, so we believe that ponchos are the way to go. You can grab a few ponchos here, or buy some at the Dreams Park retail shop. Careful – they sold out pretty quickly when we were there!
- There are a few nice grocery stores in town, but you’ll need to travel pretty far for other needs. Both Walmart (bedding, linens, pillows, blankets, etc.) and Home Depot (our team’s parents bought large industrial fans for the barracks) are about 45 min to 1 hour away, so we suggest that you stop somewhere before you get into Cooperstown.
- Both the teams and the parents will walk a ton each day, so make sure you have comfortable shoes that are good for this!
- Go to the opening ceremony early. The stadium gets packed!
This is Little Majors Stadium during the opening ceremonies
- You can receive text alerts from the Dreams Park staff for any updates and delay information. It’s free and it was very helpful. When you get there, text the word “baseball” to 25827.
- Laundry tip for coaches – take your team’s laundry as early as possible within your time slot to avoid waiting behind the other teams. One of our coaches was an early riser, so he took our team’s laundry over around 6AM with no wait.
- Laundry tip for players and parents – All of the players and coaches wash every single piece of their uniform together in one large load. That means there will be tons of red socks, blue socks, Cooperstown warm-ups, and white baseball pants that all look alike! Get these ez-kids write-on labels, they stick well onto clothing items and the writing doesn’t fade between washes.
How to get to Cooperstown Dreams Park
Cooperstown Dreams Park is located in upstate New York, which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes east of Syracuse, NY, and 1 hour and 30 minutes west of Albany, NY. We recommend that you rent a car in whatever city you choose to fly into, Cooperstown is very rural and all lodging, activities, restaurants, grocery stores, and airports are quite far from each other, and far from Dreams Park. You will have to drive to the field each day. In such a small town, there is no public transit and almost no rideshare companies are in the area unless you get a lucky Uber that happens to be passing through.
We flew in through Buffalo, NY to check out Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, rented a car from the airport, and drove it to Cooperstown. Our departure airport was Albany, we chose car rental company Hertz that allowed us to drop the car off in a different city so we could maximize our time.
Cooperstown Dreams Park address:
Cooperstown Dreams Park
4550 State Hwy 28
Milford, NY 13807
Book your travel to Cooperstown as early as possible!
This is one of our top Cooperstown Dream Park tips to save you some cash. Flights, accommodations, rental cars, and other activities in Cooperstown book up extremely fast over the summer, and prices rise along with it. Your team will receive one of the 13 tournament weeks available, and you’d better believe that ALL 104 teams will be in attendance.
An estimated 12 families of 4 per team x 104 teams = 4,992 people will travel to Cooperstown during your week. Almost FIVE THOUSAND. Per week. This doesn’t even include other tourists.
This is a TON of people for an extremely small town! We saw extended family, in-laws, aunts, uncles, and additional friends and family members attend as well, so this number is likely to be larger.
Book your travel to Cooperstown as soon as your tournament week is confirmed. Here is what we recommend:
- Flights: Albany, NY is the closest large airport to Cooperstown Dreams Park and the one we recommend at about an hour and a half drive away. Syracuse is the next closest, the drive is an hour and 45 minutes. Southwest is the airline we chose because they’re pretty awesome. You can check 2 bags for free (you can’t take baseball bats onto the plane), plus they accommodate families as well with special family boarding. Check Priceline and Cheapair.com first for the most affordable flight prices, then see more options on Google flights and Southwest.com.
- Accommodations: Cooperstown does not have many fancy hotels, in fact, they are more of a motel, inn, and bed and breakfast lodging city. There are a couple of brand name hotels, like the Holiday Inn and Best Western, and one really nice lake hotel, The Otesaga Resort (a pricey option). We recommend renting a home in the area and sharing it with other families, we did this and it was so much fun! Check Orbitz (try using Orbitz code BOOKNOW at checkout for 10% off), Flipkey, Booking.com, and VRBO for available Cooperstown properties asap!
- Rental car: As mentioned above, a car is simply required to get around in Cooperstown. We rented one at the airport in Buffalo and dropped it off in Albany at the end of the trip through Hertz. Their rates are good and they are at pretty much every airport, so no problem with dropoffs!
What other questions about Cooperstown Dreams Park do you have?
We hope these are some good Cooperstown Dreams Park tips and that you learned a little bit about what to expect when you get there. Are we missing anything? If you have any specific questions, ask in the comments below and we will answer them as soon as we can. Have a blast on your trip to Cooperstown, New York!
Also, if you happened to come to Cooperstown in 2019 for week 12, leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!