I talk about it a lot, but I love the miniature golf courses of Walt Disney World. Even the incredibly trying Fairways Course of Fantasia Gardens, on which I once used the putter as a pool cue to get out from underneath a bush, there is nothing I find more fun than spending an afternoon or evening puttering around Fantasia Gardens or Winter Summerland. Miniature golf, or goofy golf depending on where you call home, is such a crucial part of the vacationing experience that you can find a world of miniature golf courses all around Orlando. Putting on my Imagineering hat, and aiming high in the blue sky, I’ve often wondered what kind of course I would create if I had my way.
I should apologize now that, because of the conceptual nature of this article and the fact that my ability to sketch is not what I would like it to be, all the imagery in this piece is going to be verbal and require your imagination.
If I were designing a course for Walt Disney World the first thing I would have to address is the number of courses. As with most miniature golf destinations, which includes the two Walt Disney World destinations, I would opt for two courses. I’d love to dedicate one course to the parks of the world, or at least those in the United States, but you’d run the risk of guests not understanding what they are putting through or around. Therefore, we’d have one course dedicated to the parks of Walt Disney World and a second dedicated to the vast Disney film, both animated and live action, library.
Four Parks, One Putter
1 – Transportation and Ticket Center This hole would feature a water hazard with two ways around. One would take you up a ramp and around the hazard before dumping you at the hole, but may require a couple of shots to make the distance. The second would be to take the ferry, which would require a timed shot when the ramp was down.
2 – Space Mountain A series of three black holes in the side of a miniature Space Mountain decide your ball’s fate, as each comes out at a different point along the bottom green.
3 – Pirates of the Caribbean A tiered drop leads to a well where the ball is dunked in the hole. A pirate ship along the walkway features a motion trigger that activates cannons which blast passing guests with air.
4 – it’s a small world Several figurines from around the world stand in a circle around the hole, with stragglers also standing along the green, inviting guests to putt between their feet.
5 – Haunted Mansion A series of tombstones from the graveyard sit atop the hill, with a hole behind them. A perfectly timed shot will catch the hidden hole, and easier path to the empty grave hole, that appears when the happy haunt pops up from the tombstone.
6 – Cinderella Castle The classic drawbridge gag gives the ball an easy route through the castle and to the hole.
7 – Imagination A golf gear clad Figment becks to guests from the end of the long, straight hole. The hole itself appears to be a slight decline, but it is an optical illusion as the green actually runs up hill.
8 – Test Track A sweeping, banked curve around a miniature of the Test Track pavilion.
9 – Norway A hit beneath the three-headed troll activates a sound clip of, “You are not the first to pass this way,” before dumping the ball out on the lower green.
10 – Mexico A put from the top of the pyramid will have the ball bouncing down the pyramid’s steps to the green below.
11 – Spaceship Earth A steep climb up one leg of Spaceship Earth and down another leads to the hole.
12 – Tower of Terror A ball can be hit around the Hollywood Tower Hotel or in through the lobby. Once inside, the ball will climb up through the hotel where it can pop out at different floors, the higher the fall the less likely the ball is to land in the hole.
13 – Catastrophe Canyon A miniature Catastrophe Canyon features a sliding tanker truck that can knock a shot off course.
14 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios Water Tower Water pouring over from the miniature Catastrophe Canyon spills across the course at random as it makes its way to the grate beneath the Water Tower. The ball will have to travel across the grate to get to the hole.
15 – Expedition Everest A putt is aimed up the Forbidden Mountain to the temple, if it is not hit strong enough it falls back to the broken tracks that lead to the lower green. If it is hit hard enough, it will change course and spiral down to a better spot on the green.
16 – DINOSAUR A ball going through The Dino Institute will trigger the roar of a Carnotaurus, but putting around the building is also a possibility.
17 –Tree of Life To get to the green, the ball bounces around the animal sculptures like a plinko board.
18 – Walt Disney World Arch Mickey waving with the ‘See You Real Soon!’ text stand at the end short hole. A guaranteed hole in one.
Box Office Holes in One
1 – Steamboat Willie Putt straight onto the boat to trigger the steamboat’s whistles.
2 – Flowers and Trees Plants in mid dance populate the course and their roots make for a tricky route through the green.
3 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Gems have been spilled all over this mine hole creating lots of obstacles.
4 – Toy Story Putt around Andy’s Room, a shot into Woody’s Boot triggers him yelling ‘There’s a snake in my boot,’ and launching the ball directly towards the hole.
5 – Alice in Wonderland The green splits at the sign for This Way and That Way, leading to two holes inside trees, one lets out closer to the hole than the other.
6 – Nightmare Before Christmas Putt up the graveyard hill and the ball loops around to the hole’s green.
7 – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Putt the long way around the docked Nautilus or through the nose of the Nautilus straight through to the other side.
8 – Sleeping Beauty The course goes up and over the ravine where Philip and Maleficent are battling. A strong putt will cross the ravine and roll down towards the hole, a not so clean strike will have the ball fall down and have to putt around to the hole.
9 – The Little Mermaid Avoid spitting fish as you make your way towards Ariel singing from her rocky perch and the hole.
10 – TRON Pick the color of lightcycle trail you want to follow to reach the green. The hole is surrounded by a raised identity disc, so the putt has to be strong enough to get over it.
11 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit Hit the ball towards the ACME Gagworks, where Portable Holes line the wall. Hit the ball through the right hole to get a better spot on the green.
12 – DuckTales Putt up a steep hill lined with Duckberg locations and into Scrooge’s vault.
13 – Peter Pan A twirling Tinker Bell can deliver your ball in the direction of the hole or in the entirely wrong direction depending on how long your ball rattles around in her platform.
14 – The Lion King Bones of the elephant graveyard sound like a xylophone as the ball bounces through them towards the hole.
15 – Davy Crockett A campsite of Davy Crockett, the ball makes its way by tents and around campfires before finding the hole where his coonskin cap acts as a backboard.
16 – Up Balloons lift up Carl’s house, revealing a shortcut to the hole. Mistimed putts will make it a longer course to the hole.
17 – Lilo and Stitch Stich playfully swats at balls sending them in various directions around the green.
18 – Mickey Mouse Ears Send the ball underneath the hat in a simple hole in one to trigger the Mickey Mouse Club song.
There were lots of other thoughts as I put my courses together, such as a Germany hole where you would have trains and a miniature Germany pavilion (ah, the irony) or Swiss Family Robinson hole featuring the famous treehouse, but these were the final selections. The question is how would you design a course?