"Jungle Golf" Miniature Golf

by MouseStation Crew, staff writer

"Jungle Golf" Miniature Golf

One reason for going on vacation, for most families anyway, is to spend it together enjoying as many family activities and experiences in the shortest amount of time possible. That's one of the reasons why so many Walt Disney World (WDW) guests stay onsite to experience the all-inclusive experience of "the magic" 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staying in a Disney-themed hotel to provide a special atmosphere, being doted on by Disney cast members all day long, enjoying the parks and other facilities of the WDW resort, and even experiencing meals at the Disney restaurants allows a family to be together almost constantly during their vacation. The nice thing is that the top-notch service and feel-good moments that result from the WDW experience keeps everyone in the family happy and even pleased to be hanging out with each other. Even teenagers enjoy being with mom and dad for several days at a time, and it works because that's what a WDW vacation is designed fors.

But for those of us that don't have the money it takes to enjoy the immersive WDW experience 24/7, it is still possible to enjoy a similar experience without blowing the budget. The way to do it is to plan your vacation around family activities and shared experiences. Before you leave home, put together a schedule that accounts for the time you'll be setting aside to hang out as a family.

Fortunately, the Orlando area is filled with a lot more to see and do than just the major parks of WDW, Universal Studios and Sea World. All along SR-192, in Kissimmee and International Drive in Orlando, you'll find mini-attractions that you can plug into your evening schedule as family time and enjoy a couple of hours together. Therefore, I thought it might be of value for trip planners to know a little more about the miniature golf courses (and other mini attractions) in the vacation areas around Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista and I-Drive.

Miniature golf is a Bennett family favorite, even if the various members of our family approach the links from different perspectives. For example, my wife's side of the family sees a game of miniature golf much the same as General Patton saw his role with the 3rd Army in France and Germany 60-some years ago. If the game is worth being played, it's worth doing whatever it takes (within the bounds of the rules, of course) to win. Of course, tedious hours can then be dedicated to arguing about what the rules really are (for some family members, the local ground rules can vary from hole to hole depending on his or her need at the time). Besides the issue of rules, the effort and energy that the Staples clan expends in waging psychological warfare is legendary. On the other hand, I take a different approach to the game. I see it in its basic form. .. a group of people spending a couple of hours hitting a little ball into a small hole in the ground. In either case, our whole family enjoys spending the time together even if we have varying opinions as to the necessity of treating the competition like the 3rd Army's breakout at Avranches.

Today's topic is the "Jungle Golf" courses located within a stone's throw of mile marker No. 4, about four miles East of US-27 at 7792 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway: better known as SR-192. "Jungle Golf" is, therefore, located at the far West end of the "tourist strip" on SR-192. Jungle Golf is open from 10 a.m. until midnight seven days a week.

Jungle Golf is located at the far West end of the "tourist strip" on SR-192. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Jungle Golf is built around a very deep storm water reservoir that, in turn, is surrounded by a two-winged strip mall. To the West, the shops include a very nice MarketPlace grocery store that caters to the vacation crowd in the area (Orange Lake Country Club, a timeshare resort, is pretty close by), as well as the usual camera stores, restaurants, and so on. Two special mentions include what I think must be the busiest Outback Steakhouse in the world (whenever I drive by this place, even very late into the evening, there are crowds outside waiting to get in) and a Dairy Queen that happens to be located just a stone's throw away from Jungle Golf.

Photo by Brian Bennett.

Jungle Golf has two 18-hole courses. The Bwindi Adventure course is the easier of the two. The one we played, Serengeti Adventure, is supposed to be a bit more difficult. Cost to play either course is a solid $9.95 per adult and $8.95 for children (tax not included).

We played the Serengeti Adventure course. Photo by Brian Bennett.

An "unlimited play" option is available for $11.95 regardless of age. It would be perfect for the family that wishes to play both courses or, perhaps, to play a couple of rounds early in the day and then return to play again later in the evening. Obviously, the "unlimited play" would be a bargain in that case.

The Serengetti Adventure course has a series of narrative signs that tell the story of a fictional African adventurer. Photo by Brian Bennett.

There are water features all around the course area. The sound of the falling water does a fabulous job of masking the noise of road traffic just a few yards away. Even though we were so close to SR-192 that we could have hit the cars with water balloons, we couldn't hear them.

Waterfalls and other water features exist all around the two 18-hole courses. Photo by Brian Bennett.

The themeing of Jungle Golf is well executed, but isn't very elaborate. Unlike the local Pirate Adventure and Congo River miniature golf courses, Jungle Golf didn't put a ton of money into a "wienie" to draw the eye from the main road. In fact, we actually drove into the shopping center area before we realized that we had, indeed, found the course.

An African-style bridge lies between a pair of the early holes on the Serengeti course. Photo by Brian Bennett.

As far as game play goes the Serengeti course, which is supposed to be the more challenging of the two courses, wasn't all that difficult. Strong miniature golfers will find that they can easily shoot several strokes below par. I only consider myself an average player and I was able to beat the course par of 46 by a stroke. Certainly the Fantasia Fairways course at WDW is significantly more difficult.

The Serengeti course is decorated with African-themed shields and tall grasses. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Still, the course is fun to play. The crowds, even on a Saturday night in the middle of the summer vacation season, were sparse. I thought that the price was on the high side, at least given that the course is so plain, but when I shared that opinion, Barb thought it was fairly reasonable given today's miniature golf prices.

The reservoir around which the two Jungle Golf courses wrap is extremely deep. Photo by Brian Bennett.

For me, the bottom line goes something like this:

Course Themeing: 75 out of 100. Although the course is not immersive in its theme, it is very well maintained and was very pleasant.

Course Fairness (for the expected difficulty): 90 out of 100. The course wasn't too difficult, and as long as you made a reasonable attempt to line up your putt, you had a decent chance of success.

Course Convenience: 80 out of 100. I almost gave Jungle Golf only a 60 for convenience since the course is located so far to the West on SR-192. On the other hand, that is relative and for folks staying in hotels on the West side of the "main gate," Jungle Golf won't be too far away. What really tipped the scale, though, was the extreme closeness of the Dairy Queen, which provided the perfect "topping" to our family evening out.

Value to Play: 75 out of 100. I would consider the value of Jungle Golf to be about average. It wasn't really way expensive, but neither was the overall experience worth a premium price.

That gives, by averaging those numbers, an overall score of 80 out of 100. That matches up with my gut feel for Jungle Golf. It's a nice course, not too difficult, a bit out of the way, but located close to a DQ.

We give Jungle Golf four thumbs up.

All-in-all, Jungle Golf received an score of 80 as an above-average miniature golf course. Photo by Brian Bennett.