Miniature Golf at Walt Disney World: Winter Summerland vs. Fantasia Gardens

Photo Credit: Disney

My 6 year old son is obsessed with miniature golf. We have to play everywhere we go on vacation, including Walt Disney World—usually multiple times. Experiencing Walt Disney World’s two miniature golf venues, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, is a bit of a different twist from your theme park vacation and it is a great way to get away from the hustle & bustle of the parks for a little bit.

Fantasia Gardens is the older of the two miniature golf courses and is themed to Disney’s film Fantasia featuring characters and music from the film. For a lot of kids these are unfamiliar characters, but it still makes for a nice theme.

Photo Credit: Disney

Pros (Fantasia Gardens): 

  • Fantasia Gardens is located near the Epcot resort area and is within walking distance of the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Boardwalk, Swan & Dolphin hotels.  If you are having an evening dinner at one of these resorts you can cross the road over to the golf course to continue your fun.  Or if you are visiting Epcot you could exit through the World Showcase’s International Gateway entrance and walk past the resorts to go to the Fantasia Gardens.  And of course if you are staying in one of these resorts it is super convenient.
  • Fantasia Fairways. Along with the “traditional” miniature golf course Fantasia Gardens, this site features a more advanced version of miniature golf in Fantasia Fairways.  This freeform course is quite challenging, but great fun for golfers who are on vacation—or more advanced miniature golfers.

Cons (Fantasia Gardens):

  • Fantasia Gardens is a tough course and it can be frustrating to younger players and grown-ups alike.  This is not one of those hole-in-one every other hole courses.
  • As I said, this course is a little dated.  Not only with the theme & characters from Fantasia that are not as easily recognizable, but also in the holes themselves.  Although Disney does a good job with upkeep on the course and making sure the turf is not worn.

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Winter Summerland takes you on vacation with Santa and his elves.  The premise is that Christmas is over and they have moved to Florida for vacation.   One half of the course has a summer theme with sand and “water” while the other side is a winter theme with snow and frozen things (but no Olaf, Anna or Elsa).

Photo Credit: Disney

Pros (Winter Summerland):

  • The Theme.  I absolutely love the theming of Winter Summerland year round.  It is really well done. From the beachy Christmas Songs like The Beach Boys singing their “Little St. Nick” or Jimmy Buffet’s “Mele Kalikimaka” to the elaborate campsites for the elves it is just adorable.  And lots of photos ops including the castle built out of sand on the summer side and snow on the winter side.
  • Fun Challenge. While I think Winter Summerland is all around a bit easier and more forgiving than the Fantasia Gardens it still has a bit of a fun challenge.  Like hitting the ball through the castle door, or over the snoring Santa or through the train rotating around the Christmas tree.

Cons (Winter Summerland):

  • The Wait. Often times you will find a wait to play at Winter Summerland even if you go first thing in the morning.  Daytime is definitely better for crowds than the evenings at most times of year.  If there is a wait to tee off you put your name on the list and wait at some of the nearby tables to be called.  We’ve waited 30 minutes or so a few times.
  • The Location. The location here can be a little bit of a con as it is adjacent to Blizzard Beach.  There is a very small parking lot dedicated to Winter Summerland but if it is full you can park on the far end of the Blizzard Beach parking lot to access the course.  If you are relying on Disney Transportation you’ll have to take the bus to Blizzard Beach then walk over (and that usually means a transfer of buses from you resort too).

Photo Credit: Disney

Once you’ve chosen your course here are some tips & tricks to remember:

  • Go during the day—this is the best time to avoid the larger crowds that form in the evenings after a day in the parks (and when it is cooler).
  • Check for vouchers. Most Magic Your Way packages for Walt Disney World resorts (room plus tickets and/or dining) come with a voucher for Magical Extras that includes 4 free rounds of miniature golf.  This is delivered with your Magic Bands and includes a card along with paper vouchers—you need to bring both to use the miniature golf perk.  And check the time of day you have to use them by, most are good prior to 4pm only.
  • Ask for Discounts. If you don’t have a package with that magical extra (or you have already used them), be sure to ask if they offer a discount for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members or Disney Visa Cardholders.  We’ve been able to get an Annual Pass discount many times.
  • If you are visiting Blizzard Beach to enjoy the Water Park think about taking a break and walking over to Winter Summerland to play some miniature golf. Or, once the water park closes take advantage of a little more fun before calling it a day.
  • Download a scorekeeping app like My Mini Golf Scorecard. They have the paper score cards (great for scrapbooking), but sometimes keeping it in the app is easier.
  • Make sure to remember the course rules so that you don’t hold up players behind you or make the wait longer for other families waiting to start.
  • Taking a break day from the parks is always a nice way to break up your vacation. Think about incorporating a day time visit to one of the miniature golf courses along with maybe Disney Springs.
  • Clubs are available for all sizes so even small children can enjoy playing.
  • Check the leaderboard when you leave—you just might have the day’s best score which might get you a Magical Moments certificate. And will definitely earn you bragging rights.

Do you enjoy playing miniature golf at Walt Disney World?  Which course is your favorite—Winter Summerland or Fantasia Gardens?

About Sarah Chapman

I am a long time Disney fan since I was hooked on Walt Disney World with my first trip in 1987. Since that time I’ve tried experiencing everything I can in the parks, with a total of 30 visits and counting (I’m always planning my next trip) to Walt Disney World—not to mention Disney Cruise Line and even (shhh!) Universal Orlando and Sea World. I’ve turned my Disney obsession into a profession helping others plan their magical vacations as a Dream Vacation Maker at LBAC Travel. I am a work at home mom to three wonderful boys, and each one has been properly indoctrinated with all things Disney. Walt Disney World is definitely our “Laughing Place.” Look for me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SarahLBAC for updates, discount announcements, tips, tricks and planning advice for your next vacation. You can also find me on Instagram (sarahdreamvacationmaker) and Pinterest (sarahlbactravel).