Key Annual Sporting Events at Walt Disney World
ESPN Wide World of Sports, located at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, is the premier site for amateur sports in the nation. The hampionomplex hosts more than 100 events a year and has accommodated more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world. More than 350,000 athletes, coaches and fans visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex each year, including competitors of all ages and skill levels.
Disney Sports has offered an array of youth and pro soccer events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex over the years. For youth athletes, Disney offers four events in a showcase series, six Disney Soccer tournaments throughout the year and the Disney Soccer Academy in June and July. Professionally, the complex was home to the Orlando City Soccer Club during the 2014 season, the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic last spring and the inaugural Florida Cup earlier this year.
Below are a handful of signature events held at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and throughout Walt Disney World Resort:
|Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna
The Walt Disney World Marathon, runDisney’s signature event, began in 1994 and takes runners along a magical 26.2-mile journey through all four Disney theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom). Known as one of the top family-destination races, the marathon weekend attracts more than 55,000 runners and their families (more than 100,000 people total) to enjoy the weekend’s activities: runDisney Kids Races, a 5K, a 10K, half marathon, marathon and Health & Fitness Expo.
NFL Pro Bowl Week
Leading up to the Pro Bowl, this week-long celebration of football unites and inspires the entire football community. Held for the first time in 2017, this event brings unique opportunities such as the NFL Pro Bowl Experience (interactive fan activities such as passing and throwing challenges), AFC and NFC practices, Women’s World Football games, NFL Play 60 clinics, The Pro Bowl Skills Challenge and more to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Disney Girls Soccer Showcase
Similar to Disney Junior Soccer Showcase, this elite event annually attracts the top high school-aged girls soccer players from across the country. Combined with the boys tournament in December, the event features more than 600 teams and draws over 11,000 athletes per year. The event hosts more than 20,000 coaches and fans, making it one of the leading recruiting events in the country.
|Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
With more than 26,000 runners participating throughout the weekend, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has quickly become one of the largest women-specific endurance events in the country. This signature runDisney event features events for the entire family, including the Princess 5K, the Enchanted 10K and runDisney kid’s races on Saturday and the 13.1 mile half marathon taking runners through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on Sunday.
Disney Field Hockey Showcase
The Disney Field Hockey Showcase, a USA Field Hockey sanctioned event, is the ultimate place for more than 190 total teams in the U16 and U19 divisions to perform in front of 240-plus college coaches from around the country. With more than 3,000 elite athletes on site for the event, the Disney Field Hockey Showcase is designed to maximize time athletes spend in front of recruiters representing some of the top programs in the country.
|Cheerleading Worlds Championship
Considered the Super Bowl of cheerleading events, the Cheerleading Worlds Championship features the globe’s best cheerleading squads. Participation in the event has grown dramatically from three international teams representing two countries to more than 100 teams (8,500 cheerleaders) from 40 countries.
Star Wars Rival Run Weekend presented by OtterBox
Thousands of runners from across the galaxy gather at Walt Disney World Resort for this Star Wars-themed race weekend, which began in 2016. The race takes participants through multiple theme parks and culminates at Epcot. Runners can channel the force in a variety of races, including the runDisney Kids Races, a 5K, a 10K and the half marathon.
Disney Volleyball Showcase
Nearly 6,000 elite volleyball athletes from across the country visit ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to perform in front of college coaches representing some of the top programs in the country. As a USA Volleyball sanctioned event, the Disney Volleyball Showcase gives more than 590 total teams an opportunity to qualify for the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.
|AAU National Basketball Championships
More than 7,000 boys and girls athletes across 675 teams compete in the AAU National Basketball Championships. 35 states and eight countries are represented throughout the premiere youth basketball event, which runs through July. The top 3rd through 12th grade basketball players in the country and around the world have the opportunity to play in front of hundreds of collegiate coaches and scouts in attendance.
AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships
The AAU Junior Volleyball Championships holds the mark in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest volleyball tournament. Over 40 states and 10 different countries are represented throughout the week, as more than 2,100 teams and nearly 24,000 athletes are on-site at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Teams in age groups between 10U and 18U have an opportunity to compete in front of over 400 college coaches and scouts in attendance.
IdeaSport Soccer Program at Walt Disney World Resort
Starting in 2017, Walt Disney World Resort is teaming with IdeaSport to host a soccer program for youth athletes at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Through this multi-year agreement, the training program Walt Disney World Resort will provide a holistic approach to soccer education with proven, year-round training, education and development for youth soccer athletes, developing them on and off the field, as well as training for coaches and officials. An open house will be hosted by Walt Disney World on June 1-4 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and training and development are scheduled to begin in late June. In addition, the program will bring multiple events and exhibitions to the complex each year, including a tournament, summer camps with current and former players and coaches, and more events to be announced.
|Disney Cup International
The Disney Cup International has attracted teams from more than 20 countries for 16 years and counting. This event offers teams from around the world an opportunity to compete at world-class facilities. Nearly 3,000 athletes between the ages of nine and 19 come together in one of the largest international youth soccer tournaments in the country.
|Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend powered by AfterShokz
The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend began in 2009 and takes place in November, coinciding with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Formerly a nighttime race, it has taken place in the morning since 2016 and takes participants through multiple theme parks, culminating at Epcot for an exclusive after-hours party. In addition to runDisney Kids’ Races and Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K and the half marathon, new this year are the Disney Wine & Dine 10K and Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge, for runners who do both the 10K and the half marathon.
Formerly known as the Advocare Invitational, the premier Division I event is an eight-team, 12-game men’s basketball tournament that takes place over Thanksgiving weekend and features some of the top collegiate teams in America. Past winners include Arkansas (2006), North Carolina State (2007), Gonzaga (2008), Florida State (2009), Notre Dame (2010), Dayton (2011), Gonzaga (2012) and Memphis (2013).
Disney Junior Soccer Showcase
Widely regarded as the leading elite youth soccer tournament in the nation, this event annually attracts the top U13 and U14 boys and girls soccer players and teams from across the country. The tournament features about 4,500 athletes per year during the three-day event.
|Pop Warner Super Bowl
Sixty-four of the top youth football teams in the nation compete in this week-long Super Bowl after advancing through regional competitions. Teams compete for national crowns in four divisions based on size and age, including Jr. Pee Wee (ages 8-11 yrs.), Pee Wee (9-12 yrs.), Jr. Varsity (10-13 yrs.) and Varsity (11-15 yrs.). This event coincides with the Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance Championships, bringing together thousands of cheerleaders from across the country.
Disney Boys Soccer Showcase
This elite event annually attracts the top high school-aged boys soccer players from across the country. Combined with the girls tournament in November, the event features more than 600 teams and draws over 11,000 athletes per year. The event hosts more than 20,000 coaches and fans, making it one of the leading recruiting events in the country.