A new year signals a new sports season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort, where thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities will train and compete in 2018. The action gets underway Jan. 4, when the complex hosts the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo during the 25th annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. This premier runDisney race weekend – featuring kids’ races, 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon races – brings more than 100,000 runners and spectators to the Orlando area, making it the largest sporting event in Central Florida.
A week later on Jan. 12, collegiate cheerleading and dance squads will yell, tumble and stunt their way to glory in the National College Cheerleading & Dance Championship, the most prestigious college cheer event in the country.
And to close out a busy January, the top stars representing the AFC and NFC conferences will return to the sports complex for NFL Pro Bowl Week festivities. In addition to team practices, the 2018 Pro Bowl Skills Showdown will take place at the sports complex, pitting AFC and NFC athletes against each other in unique competitions, such as:
- Kick Tac Toe: A new challenge this year which will test the accuracy of kickers with a version of the classic game.
- Gridiron Gauntlet: A selected number of players from each team will participate in a relay race which showcases strength, speed and agility.
- Drone Drop: A bonus event where one player from each team will attempt to catch footballs dropped from drones from increasing heights above the field. The player who records the highest catch total wins a monetary prize that will be donated to the charity of his choice.
Pro Bowl Week culminates with the 2018 Pro Bowl, held Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium.
In February, the Atlanta Braves return for their 21st spring training season at Disney, with games getting underway at Champion Stadium on Feb. 26. The Braves will host the World Series Champion Houston Astros (Mar. 8), as well as Washington Nationals (Feb. 26, March 1), St. Louis Cardinals (March 3), Miami Marlins (March 4) and New York Yankees (March 9, 24), among others.
For fans in attendance, Disney character appearances and special moments such as kids running the bases after every game are some of the in-game entertainment opportunities that make Braves spring training at Disney a unique experience. Individual spring training game tickets are on sale at www.espnwwos.com/braves, through Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000) and at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Box Office. Tickets range from $15 (general admission berm seating in left field) to $59 (lower level reserved seats).
Information on Braves spring training season tickets, suite/hospitality, group tickets and mini-plans is available by calling the premium sales team at (407) 939-GAME (4263) and online at www.espnwwos.com/braves. The popular mini-plans will be available again this season, featuring three three-game options.
Below is a look at all events held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex through March 2018:
- 25th annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Jan. 4-7)
- Diamond 9 Sun Classic Winter Showcase (Jan. 11-14): The top travel softball teams in the country will play in front of college coaches in this premier showcase event.
- National College Cheerleading & Dance Championship (Jan. 12-14)
- Disney 3v3 Soccer Championship (Jan. 13-15): One of eight youth soccer events at the sports complex, this tournament offers and Open Division to all 3v3 teams, and an Invitational Division for teams that have qualified by participating in other 3v3 events.
- Disney Field Hockey Showcase (Jan. 19-21): Returning to the sports complex in 2018, this USA Field Hockey-sanctioned event is the ultimate place for top field hockey clubs to be seen by college coaches.
- Sand Dollar/Whitlow Invitationals (Jan. 19-21): The Sand Dollar/Whitlow Invitational is a first-class women’s and men’s competitive gymnastics competition
- NFL Pro Bowl Week (Jan. 24-27)
- National Dance Team Championship (Feb. 2-4)
- National High School Cheerleading Championship (Feb. 10-11)
- Diamond 9 President’s Day Sun Classic (Feb. 15-19)
- Twirl Mania International Championship (Feb. 16-19): A baton twirling championship designed for soloists, pairs and twirl teams.
- Braves Spring Training (Mid Feb.-Mar.24)
- Disney President’s Day Soccer Festival (Feb. 17-19)
- Diamond 9 College Citrus Classic Week I (Feb. 22-25)
- Disney High School/College Spring Training (Feb. 25-April 29): high school and college baseball, golf, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, softball, tennis and track and field teams spend spring break training where the pros train at Disney
- Diamond 9 College Citrus Classic Week II (Mar. 1-4)
- Contest of Champions National Dance Competition (Mar. 2-4)
- UCA International All-Star Championship (Mar. 10-11): An annual gymnastics competition held at the sports complex
- Disney Volleyball Showcase (Mar. 16-18): This USA Volleyball-sanctioned event is a qualifying tournament for the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.
- AmeriCheer & AmeriDance International Championship (Mar. 24-25)
- AAU Boys’ Basketball (Mar. 30-July 29): AAU spring hoops events get underway in March, culminating in the AAU National Championships in July.