Monday 15 December 2014

Playing miniature golf at Disney World Resort, Florida

There are four different miniature golf courses at Disney World Resort in Florida, and on our most recent holiday we managed to play on three of them! I thought I'd share a little bit about the different courses and the fun that we had. Entry to the miniature golf courses was included in the park passes that we bought for our holiday so it's worth checking your tickets, otherwise you can pay separately when you arrive. At time of writing each course costs $12 for a child and $14 for an adult.

Playing miniature golf at Walt Disney World Resort

On arrival you are given a time slot. We played early evening or first thing and never had to wait more than five minutes or so to play, but it might be worth checking the wait time in advance if you are visiting in peak season or at a busy time of day.

Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf

Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf is located at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, but has its own entrance and car park. Here you can also find the Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course which we've not yet tried, as it looks a little more difficult for our young family. These two golf courses are based around Disney's classic Fantasia film and each course has 18 holes.

Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf is situated a little apart from the main Disney parks, so it feels pretty quiet and relaxed. It's close to Hollywood Studios though, so you can see the Tower of Terror in the background and if you are there in the evening at the right time you can even see the Fantasmic fireworks in the distance.

The course is a little deceptive. Some of the holes look very difficult but there are often hidden routes which the ball will fall through if you aim it in the right general direction. Sometimes sending the ball along the correct ramp or tunnel will send it directly into the final hole! There is also sometimes a bit of helpful sloping going on to direct the ball where it needs to be, so it's great for little ones.

Fantasia Gardens miniature golf

There is often both an easy and a difficult way to complete the course. For example the hole in the picture below has a steep ramp to shoot the ball up, but if you don't have enough power to get it all the way to the top it will fall through a lower hole in the ramp and still come out near where you need it to be.

Fantasia Gardens mini golf, Disney World Orlando

Often, sending your ball the correct way through an obstacle will cause something to happen, for example music plays or there is a quick spray of water. Many of the obstacles are also moving which makes them more interesting and fun. There is one hole which is located in a dark cave, and when you send the ball through it triggers a dragon's roar and a scary shadow is projected onto the wall. This one was a little bit scary for the children - we had to run them through it with their eyes closed!

Playing mini golf at Disney World

Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

The Winter Summerland Miniature Golf course is located at Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, but it is completely separate and opening times are different to the water park. There are two courses here - the Winter Course and the Summer Course - and each is a different 18 hole experience with plenty of fun obstacles. They are both pretty similar in terms of difficulty, and some of the theming is mirrored, for example there is an ice castle in winter and a matching sandcastle in summer.

The story behind the courses is that Father Christmas built a vacation destination for his elves, divided into two parts. One part is for those that wanted to enjoy the sunshine, and the other for those that preferred the chilly North Pole. Both areas have a Christmassy theme to them, finishing in a beautifully decorated Christmas area.

If you only have time to do one of the courses then there isn't much to choose between them, so I would choose the quietest one. Both courses are fairly compact so I would imagine that it might feel a little busier than that Fantasia course when there are more people around, but that also makes it a a little more suitable for younger children as it's not too overwhelming.

The Winter Course

The Winter Course features ice and snow. There are a few things to watch out for, in particular a cheeky snowman that seemed to squirt water completely randomly and was difficult to dodge!

Blizzard Beach winter mini golf course

The children loved trying to hit the ball through the ice castle, which has a moving drawbridge so you need to time your shot. It's not too difficult though!

Blizzard Beach winter mini golf course

The Summer Course

We visited the Summer Course on a sunny day, but there is plenty of shade around the course from the Florida sun, and also a few places to sit while you wait for your turn.

Blizzard Beach mini golf summer course

Above you can see the sand castle above that is the same as the ice castle, and on the hole below the cheeky snowman has melted! Again, we found here that the courses often felt strategically ramped to send your balls the way that they are supposed to go, which is really good for little ones. This doesn't mean that it's not challenging for adults though.

Blizzard Beach summer mini golf course

The final section of the course is beautifully themed with Christmas decorations and a festive fireplace, and at the very end you send your ball through a computer screen to receive a special message from Santa. 

Playing miniature golf at Disney World Resort, Florida

After finishing playing each of these courses, both children were given a souvenir Mickey golf ball to take home which was a lovely touch!

Harry (5) and Mia (3) managed really well with all of these miniature golf courses. Although some of the holes are a little more challenging, they didn't mind accepting a bit of help and they loved it when sending the ball a particular way caused something to happen. Even if you think that your children are too young to play miniature golf I'd still recommend giving it a go as it's a lot of fun even if they don't manage it all by themselves! With younger children I'd probably recommend starting with the Winter Summerland courses as they did feel a little easier and the theming felt more geared towards little ones. And definitely choose this one if you are visiting around Christmas time!

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