Friday, September 30, 2011
(Must Do: Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf)
It seems that I have been talking about traditions a lot lately, and Fantasia Gardens is no exception. In an earlier post this week, I recommended arriving in the early morning hours to your Disney resort so that you could spend the day doing as you pleased, while maximizing your vacation time. For us, Fantasia Gardens is one of those first-day traditions.
Inspired by Disney's full-length feature film Fantasia, Fantasia Gardens is an 18-hole, interactive mini golf course. There are actually two options for play; Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways. Fantasia Gardens is what most visitors seem to prefer, as it resembles a (not-so-traditional) mini golf course with interactive elements such as shooting water and musical tones. Next door is Fantasia Fairways, a miniature scale course for the more serious or experienced golfer. During busy seasons, Fantasia Gardens is usually crawling with visitors, while the Fairways are pretty empty. It seems to be the place that people go if they just want to shoot a few holes and don't want to deal with the crowds. I have not experienced Fantasia Fairways myself as I can't seem to stay away from all of the fun at the Gardens.
Each of the 18 holes at Fantasia Gardens represents a different song from the movie Fantasia. At the beginning of each hole, there is a book explaining, in musical form of course, the best strategy for getting a hole in one. Hole 8, as pictured above, just happens to be one of my favorites. It features that villain that everyone loves but never seems to know his name; Chernobog. The cavern is dark and even a bit scary (especially at night). Send the ball home and you're rewarded with some great special effects. I won't tell you everything that happens, but here's a little preview...
There's so much detail here, and if you love Fantasia, you'll love Fantasia Gardens. Each hole has its own music and special effects. There are dancing alligators, hippos in tutus, broomsticks that throw water, and those cute little dancing mushrooms that I am for whatever reason kind of in love with.
Visiting during the day is just as fun as playing at night, but there are certainly trade-offs. For one, if you can manage to go earlier in the morning (the course opens at 10am), you can usually avoid a great deal of the crowds. On our last visit, we actually went at night - around 930pm. The crowds were minimal, and some of the effects at night are even more dazzling (especially Night on Bald Mountain, as mentioned above). No matter when you decide to go, I recommend that you avoid visiting in the middle of the day. Crowds are certain to be at their highest, and while they do a great job of spreading out the wait times between golfers, it seems like it could be a hassle. Regardless, you can catch some great views of the Tower of Terror day or night. If you listen closely, you can hear the screams!
There's so much more to Walt Disney World than just the theme parks, as fabulous as they are, and a round of mini golf is great for kids of all ages. Fantasia Gardens is open seven days a week from 10am - 11pm. The easiest way to get to Fantasia Gardens is by car if you have one - parking is complementary. You can also get there by taking a bus from one of the theme parks to the Swan or Dolphin, and then walk from there. Fantasia Gardens is located in the Epcot resort area. Admission for one round of golf is $12 per adult, and $10 for children ages 3-9.
Have you been to Fantasia Gardens? Do you have a favorite recreational experience in Walt Disney World? Leave it in the comments!