Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Off the Beaten Path - Exploring Miniature Golf at Walt Disney World

Off the Beaten Path – Exploring Miniature Golf at WDW

Did you know that Walt Disney World has two miniature golf courses on site? Fantasia Gardens and Fairways is located adjacent to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels while Winter Summerland can be found next to Blizzard Beach water park.  Both boast two 18-hole courses, with each 18-hole round costing $14.00 for adults and $12.00 for children aged 3-9, plus tax (annual passholders can receive a 10% discount on this price).  Additionally, if you have purchased a Magic Your Way vacation package, 4 vouchers good for 1 round of miniature golf are included free of charge with your package (note: vouchers are only good prior to 4 p.m.).   While the courses do not take reservations, you will be provided with an estimated tee time when you check in.  The courses are not terribly crowded during the day, when many travelers are visiting the theme parks, but tend to get busier in the evening.  Additionally, there is little shade or cover on the courses, so avoid the heat of the day if possible.  But, of course, beverages and ice cream novelties are available for purchase if you must brave the hottest part of the day!  Operating hours vary by season, so be sure to check the calendar before you arrive.

While all four courses are suitable for adults and children alike, Fantasia Gardens is a more traditional putt-putt course, whereas the Fairways side is a traditional golf course built on a smaller scale, complete with sand traps, bunkers, water hazards and sloping greens.  Fantasia Gardens is recommended for families and beginners, with the Fairways geared more toward the experienced golfer.  Both courses at Winter Summerland are true “putt putt” courses, with a sand course decorated for summer, including sandcastles, surfboards and palm trees, and a snow course featuring whimsical winter touches, such as snowmen, giant peppermints and a melting castle.

This was our family’s first time experiencing miniature golf at WDW, and we chose Fantasia Gardens.  The kids preferred the theming of this course, and it also happened to be in close proximity to our dinner reservation at Beaches & Cream, which worked out well for travel! We checked in around 4 p.m. on a Saturday, and had about a 20 minute wait to start playing.  During that time, we were fitted for putters, selected our ball color, and surveyed the course. 

The holes on this course are nestled among larger-than-life scenes from the movie, Fantasia, featuring tutu-clad hippos, giant broomsticks and dancing ostriches.  Each of the 18 holes are par 3, and the start of each hole featured a musical title and a fun “song” about the upcoming hole:

Difficulty of the holes varied, as is true of any course.  Fantasia Gardens is sprinkled with obstacles, ramps and trap doors that will challenge even the most experienced miniature golfer, while not still not being too difficult for the younger crowd.  On some holes my 5-year-old was able to achieve a hole in one with great ease (this was his first time playing miniature golf), while on others, even the adults in my party struggled!  But only one hole (#17) caused all 4 of us significant duress, and yes, several balls were sacrificed to the water gods there!

All in all, I was quite surprised by how much fun we had.  Normally I am a “commando” WDW visitor, constantly looking for ways to maximize our park time, and avoiding any activity that we can do at home.  This was my daughter’s birthday trip, however, and the birthday girl wanted to putt-putt.  And I’m so glad she did - this is definitely an activity we will make time for again!  It’s a great option for a non-park day that will still give you that “Disney feel” without the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, and will be far more relaxing

By Travel Time Agent Alyssa

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