By Rebecca Strauss
Although Orlando, Florida is a year-round vacation destination, some times of year are notably busier than others. (We’re looking at you, Spring Break.)
The best time to visit this theme-park paradise is in shoulder season. January, for instance, is ideal: Holiday celebrations have come and gone (and with them, pricey holiday flights), but it’s still before springtime bacchanals amp up. Not to mention, Orlando weather in January can’t be beat.
And as a special bonus for visitors in early 2019, Orlando is hosting the first annual Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions Presented by Insurance Office of America at Tranquilo Golf Course at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando from Jan. 17 to 20. Winners from the past two LPGA seasons will be facing off, so competition for the $1.2 million purse is guaranteed to be fierce. In addition to the golf pros, 45 sports and entertainment celebrities will be competing for a $500,000 purse of their own.
There are tons of Orlando events in January going on just for the tournament, plus plenty of other diversions around town to keep you busy. Here are a few reasons why you should consider booking your next visit ASAP.
Wondering what to do in Orlando in January? There’s an absolute deluge of special events going on for the Tournament of Champions itself, with a number of exclusive events being hosted for Diamond Resorts members and invited guests. First up is the Celebrity Mingle, which starts with a luau-themed dinner party on Jan. 13 . On the 14th, members can flex their selfie game at a celebrity and pro-golfer private party at Driveshack. Because if it doesn’t end up on social media, did it happen at all?
Throughout the week, members and invited guests will also have opportunities to meet the celebs and LPGA champions at private evening events and concerts, including a headliner performance on Jan. 19 by country musician Cole Swindell. You can’t buy tickets to the parties or concerts, but contact Diamond Resorts for details on how to score a coveted invite.
If you’d like to add another sports-related experience to your vacation, you’re in luck — Orlando is hosting the Pro Bowl for the third straight year at Camping World Stadium (formerly the Florida Citrus Bowl). Events going on from Jan. 23 through 26 include a pep rally at Disney Springs featuring NFL cheerleaders and a flag football game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports on Jan. 25 featuring NFL legends and celebrities.
Art at Epcot
There’s something special going on at Orlando’s noted theme parks pretty much every month of the year, and January is no exception. The Epcot International Festival of the Arts begins on Jan. 18 and runs through Feb. 25. The park will feature exhibits, events and displays featuring the visual arts, culinary arts and performing arts. There will be special galleries, animation workshops, food studios featuring art-inspired treats and performances ranging from living statues around the park to Disney’s Broadway Concert Series.
Speaking of Broadway, one of the hottest shows ever — the multiple-award-winning Hamilton — is coming to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando from Jan. 22 through Feb. 10. The experience is sure to be one of the can’t-miss Orlando events for January 2019. Don’t have tickets? Never fear: Seats are still available for select shows and the Dr. Phillips Center is urging people to check back often, as extra spots are being released on a rolling basis.
Stay in Grand Style
If you’re looking for what to do in Orlando in January, start by selecting your home base hotel. Both Grand Beach and Grande Villas Resorts by Diamond Resorts are right in the middle of all the action, near the theme parks and tourist attractions of International Drive. There’s plenty going on at both resorts to keep the family busy. At Grand Beach, every week features activities such as ice-cream socials, trivia, scavenger hunts, shuffleboard and family mini-golf. Grande Villas Resorts also features a full slate of arts and crafts, bingo, trivia and more.
Nearby on International Drive, lots of restaurants put on weekly shows, such as live music nightly at B.B. King’s Blues Club and character breakfasts for the kids at Hard Rock Hotel. You also won’t want to miss Icon Orlando 360. This entertainment complex features the Icon Orlando (formerly the Orlando Eye), the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast at 400 feet, as well as a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, more rides, an arcade and a fantastic aquarium.
By visiting Orlando in January, you’ll get the best of both worlds: a world-class golf event, as well as fewer crowds, great weather and shorter wait times at popular attractions. With a win-win situation like this, you may just make your January trip an annual occasion.
About the Contributor
Rebecca Strauss has been a travel writer and editor since 2008, focusing on scuba-diving travel content. She’s written for outlets such as Marriott, USA Today, Caribbean Travel + Life and Sport Diver magazines.