I decided to do something different this time around and take you on a photo tour of the fanciful Fantasia Gardens miniature golf course. While not exactly a difficult course, the whimsical hole design and delightful sculptures make it an enjoyable place to spend an hour or so.
The course starts with Toccata and Fugue, featuring sheet music for the opening of the piece. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The course is themed to five of the segments of the Disney animated classic Fantasia: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, The Nutcracker Suite, The Pastoral Symphony, Dance of the Hours and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. Each segment carries its theme for three to five holes.
Each hole has a sign made to appear like a music stand, which has the hole number, the piece of music that inspired the hole, the par for the hole (every hole is a par 3) and a short poem giving instructions and/or a description for the hole. Oh, and each one also has a small bit of sheet music from that particular piece. There is one set of notes for each musical piece, regardless of whether there are multiple themes used for them in the movie. For example, the notes are the same for all of the "Nutcracker Suite" holes, despite the fact that the "Dance of the Reed Flutes," "Chinese Dance," and "Waltz of the Flowers" segments are all represented.
So, without further ado, let's get the (golf) ball rolling.
The course starts with Toccata and Fugue. The "music stand" sign for the first hole features sheet music for the opening of the piece. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 1 Toccata and Fugue
Our musical game has just begun
And here comes treble for everyone
Up to the top the ball must run
For any hope of a hole-in-one
The first hole plays off of the "treble" in the description, as the ball must go through a horn, then up and around a giant treble clef. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 2 Toccata and Fugue, Par 3
The notes upon the staff you see
May seem quite lovely musically
But now, as you begin to play
You'll see they may get in your way
On the second hole, you must putt the ball around or through musical notes. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 3 Toccata and Fugue, Par 3
Before our little fugue concludes
The music swells and changes mood
Avoid the rests and you will hear
Chimes a ringing sweet and clear
The final Toccata and Fugue hole is a standard up-and-around hole, with the added feature of chimes for the ball to bounce on and play a tune while on the way down. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 4 The Nutcracker Suite, Par 3
Spring is here and just beyond
Blossoms float upon the pond
The open bud should be your goal
Its dainty petals surround the hole
The Nutcracker Suite section of the course begins themed to the Dance of the Reed Flutes segment of Fantasia, as you must putt the ball into the open bloom floating on the "water" on the left. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 5 The Nutcracker Suite, Par 3
These lively mushrooms circle 'round
While one is hopping up and down
At the feet of little Hop Low
Is where you want the ball to go
Interestingly, the signs for "The Nutcracker Suite" section of the course show music from the Marche section of the piece, which is not used in the film. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Themed to the Chinese Dance section of the film, there are multiple locations for the ball to hop into a hole down to the lower section of this hole. The opening at the base of "Hop Low" (the little mushroom in the middle that does "hop" up and down), however, is the only one that leads straight to the cup. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 6 The Nutcracker Suite, Par 3
As winter arrives, the fairies create
A frost covered pond where they can skate
Their path on the left is where it should roll
Then watch as it waltzes down to the hole
There are multiple paths through the "ice" at the upper section of this hole, themed to the Waltz of the Flowers portion of the Suite's appearance in Fantasia, though the path that takes is closest to the cup is the leftmost one. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 7 The Nutcracker Suite, Par 3
And so this musical suite we close
Amidst the flurry of winter snows
Weather the storm where snowflakes fall
Or easily putt around them all
The final hole in "The Nutcracker Suite" section of the course is also themed to the Waltz of the Flowers segment, and turns a standard mini-golf windmill into a rotating snowflake. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 8 The Pastoral Symphony, Par 3
Within Mount Olympus this opus unfolds
And what mythological creatures it holds!
When putting the ball be careful to go
Straight through the pillars to the caverns below
"The Pastoral Symphony" section of the course kicks off with a hole that runs through the interior of Mount Olympus. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The placement of the pillars makes it difficult to get the ball through in one putt. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 9 The Pastoral Symphony, Par 3
This impish faun, loves to tease
As he plays his pipes with ease
So if you can putt straight and true
Perhaps he'll play a tune for you
While this is a relatively simple hole with a straight shot to the cup, there is a ring of raised ground around the hole to divert your shot. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
A faun sculpture behind the hole plays his pipes when the ball goes in. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 10 The Pastoral Symphony, Par 3
In all of the land there's no one more raucous
Than the fellow here, the infamous Bacchus
He's poured you a path that you simply putt up
Hit it just right and it spills to the cup
The Pastoral Symphony signs contain music from the opening sequence for this segment, which features fauns and unicorns cavorting in the countryside. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
This hole features one path up (from the right in photo) and two paths down (center and left). The path to the hole is the one in the center. Mount Olympus (from Hole 8) is framed nicely in the background. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Bacchus presides over Hole 10, pouring out the "wine." Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 11 Dance of the Hours, Par 3
You will notice in a glance
These graceful ladies love to dance
This bird ballet is lovely, but
They may distract you as you putt
This "wiggle" hole features the ostriches from the opening portion of Dance of the Hours at each curve in the green. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 12 Dance of the Hours, Par 3
And here, the dance grows even greater
Enter now: Ben Ali Gator
With hippo high, he strains beneath
Now simply putt between his teeth
This is a "target" hole, where putting the ball through Ben Ali Gator's mouth puts the ball straight through to the hole. Otherwise you'll have to putt around the obstruction in the middle. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Ben Ali Gator lifts Hyacinth Hippo in the middle of the hole. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 13 Dance of the Hours, Par 3
After they dance their amusing duet
Hyacinth Hippo will now pirouette
Carefully watch as she spins here for you
Time it just right and the ball will go through
The Dance of the Hours signs feature music from the "chase scene" at the end of the piece. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
A "pirouetting" Hyacinth Hippo has two curved paths underneath her, which determine which path the ball takes to the hole. Try to putt the ball so that it goes into a path that curves to the left for the best score. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hyacinth Hippo makes a solo appearance on this hole. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 14 Dance of the Hours, Par 3
Twilight brings a mood of romance
The perfect time for an elephant dance
So while she strikes this beautiful pose
Aim for the path beneath her toes
Another "target" hole, this one forces you to choose between trying to get it up the path below the elephant or to plan to go around the obstruction. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
An elephant joyfully dances at hole number 14. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 15 Dance of the Hours, Par 3
Before we can finish this silly ballet
This fanciful fountain is ready to spray
So keep an eye out for each little jet
They're hopping and hoping to get the ball wet
This hole is fairly simple; just putt through hopping fountains. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 16 The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Par 3
Mickey's in trouble for casting a spell
Meant to assist him in filling the well
Now armies of brooms with a water supply
Are ready to douse anything that goes by
While this is a simple "curve right" hole, the trick is that sensors across the path detect when people are walking past, and the brooms "toss" water in sequence from their buckets over the heads of the people. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 17 The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Par 3
When Mickey is dreaming he's brave and he's brash
Conducting the stars and creating a splash
From high on a cliff, he's on top of it all
He'll show you his stuff when you're putting the ball
The "music stands" for The Sorcerer's Apprentice holes feature notes spelling out the recognizable theme that is played as the brooms do their stuff. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
This "up and down" hole features a split at the top that decides whether your ball comes down near the hole or with a long path ahead of you. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Mickey conducts the powers of the cosmos from atop his cliff. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The brooms in the background were too slow to catch the golfers with their water. Mickey, in the foreground, will make water splash up from the pond when the ball goes underneath him. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Hole 18 The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Par 3
The wave has grown bigger with magic it stirs
When up from the bottom, a whirlpool occurs
A putt to the left will spin it and then
We hope you'll return here again and again!
As the ball goes into the final hole, water sprays up from the cup. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Yen Sid the sorcerer presides over the 18th hole. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
As with most mini-golf courses, the 18th hole will "eat" your ball, sending it to a holding bin, so that your club is all that you have to return.
Adjacent to the Fantasia Gardens course is another course called Fantasia Fairways. This course is actually a regular golf course, shrunk down to putting size. Both 18-hole courses are controlled by the same desk. They are located across Epcot Resorts Boulevard from the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, between the hotel and Buena Vista Drive. It's an easy walk from the Dolphin, but be careful crossing the street.
The courses are open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Prices are currently $10.75 for adults and $8.50 for children ages 3-9. Walt Disney World Annual and Seasonal Passholders currently receive a 50 percent discount for the Passholder and up to three guests. Disney Vacation Club members currently receive a 15 percent discount for the member and up to four guests. There is also a 50 percent discount on additional rounds played the same day, but you must provide a proof that you've already played that day. (A receipt will do it, though if you're still holding the putter from your first round, that would be a good indication, as well.)
For more information, call 407-560-8760.