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Vintage Walt Disney World: Looking Back at the Debut of Fantasia Gardens

Nate Rasmussen

by , Librarian, Walt Disney Archives

This weekend Fantasia Gardens celebrates its 16th year of being the only miniature golf course inspired by Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” The 36 holes of golf at Fantasia Gardens are split up into two courses – Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways. And when the courses opened on May 20, 1996, a few famous friends were on hand to try their luck at the courses.

Minnie and Mickey Trying Their Luck at Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways in May 1996

Fantasia Gardens is themed to five “Fantasia” sequences “Toccata & Fugue,” “The Nutcracker Suite,” “The Pastoral Symphony,” “The Dance of the Hours,” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Below Minnie does her best putting on hole four themed to “The Nutcracker Suite.”

Minnie at Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways in May 1996

Pluto was up for challenge of Fantasia Fairways where you can see the 40-foot tall Mount Olympus from Fantasia Gardens and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios behind him.

Pluto at Fantasia Gardens and Fantasia Fairways in May 1996

While I’ve never played a round of real golf in my life, I’m not too shabby at miniature golf. I’m thinking about going pro.

Look below for more Vintage Walt Disney World posts:


  • Hi, Played the Gardens a few years ago on our 4th ann.we had a great time.Going back at the end of June on our 6th anna.we will do the Fairways and Wolfgangs for dinner.

  • Played “Fairways” with some friends while at a conference this past Februrary. We still talk about the great time we had, and how difficult (but fun!) the course was. I want to create one of my own now!!!

    FYI, if you don’t want to walk / bus / boat to Fantasia Gardens, you can always take a taxi directly to the course. From most on-property resorts, taxi fare is pretty cheap.

  • I don’t mind taking the boat to the Swolphin, which is the fun part–
    And I like the fact that it’s “hidden” enough for smartypants veteran travelers to recommend to new guests, but that probably makes it TOO secret and we wonder whether enough people know about it.

    (It’s also pretty hard, compared to the ones at Blizzard Beach or on Int’l Drive. Definitely a “pro course” level–and that’s the Garden, not the Fairways–to remind me that I basically stink at mini-golf even though I love to play it.) 🙂

  • My husband and I discovered this on our honeymoon back in ’99. We had lots of fun there. I remember feeding ducks right out of my hand. We didn’t have a car and walked there from our hotel. We stayed at the Boardwalk so it wasn’t far. We have yet to bring our kids because of the question of how to get there.

  • I love that the resort buses don’t go there. I can take the bus from my resort to DHS and then ride the Friendship Boats to the Swan/Dolphin. It forces me to experience the relaxing boat ride and check out resorts where I don’t normally stay. Anything that takes me somewhere I don’t usually go is a PLUS in my book!

  • Definitely fun – i tell all my friends going there to find it. Question – why don’t the resort buses go here? The best part of staying on property is not driving anywhere, and i know a lot of people who don’t go to this one b/c they don’t want to bother w/the drive, which is a shame.

  • My family and I very much enjoyed our round of golf in Fantasia Gardens – we were in Florida, so had to partake in some sort of golfing activity! We loved the creative obstacles and special effects that the rolling golf balls set off. Our scores…well, let’s not discuss those. What a fun way to spend the morning with the family!

  • Oh boy….more stuff that I personally remember that are falling under the title of “Vintage Disney”. Where did the time go??

    Anyway, Fantasia Gardens has always been one of my favorite little WDW “secrets.”

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