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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tip Tuesday: Winter Summerland

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

As the days get hotter and hotter, many of us are looking for things to do in the evenings when the weather's a bit (and only a bit) cooler.

One fantastic evening activity at Walt Disney World is miniature golf.

Disney has two courses: Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland. Fantasia Gardens is located next to the Swan resort while Winter Summerland, appropriately, is located next to Blizzard Beach.

Recently my family and I had the chance to play a round at Winter Summerland.

I was pleasantly surprised with Winter Summerland. There are two courses, winter and summer (obviously). We played the winter course, which featured various winter scenes, some of which featured different classic Disney characters.

Like everything at Walt Disney World, there's a story to Winter Summerland:

Late one moonlit Christmas Eve, as Santa was flying over Florida on his way back to the North Pole, he glanced down and could not believe what he saw. Santa found snow in a place that is usually hot. After surveying the strange location, he decided to build a vacation destination for his off-duty elves -- a Winter Summerland.

The only thing Winter Summerland lacked was a golf course. So the elves divided into two camps, one that enjoyed the warm Florida sun and another that preferred the snow and cold of the North Pole. In this Winter Summerland, the elves built two distinctly different 18-hole golf experiences -- a summer course and a winter course.

There are plenty of interactive elements, such as the squirting snowman (see above) that will squirt players if they step on a certain unmarked spot, which just happens to be very close to the hole. Other elements include special pop-up characters if a player putts their ball through a special opening. One particularly neat effect is hole #14 (The North Hole). If a player can putt their ball into a special opening at the base of the North Pole, the ball will be transported up through the poll and drop onto the green below.

Winter Summerland also features Santa's "Winterbago," a converted travel trailer that houses the starter booth, and small snack and gift shops. For a great photo opportunity guests can sit behind the reigns of Santa's sleigh or gather in front of the "surfing" Santa statue, an elf-made tribute to jolly old St. Nick.

Throughout both the summer and winter courses, Disney has added special Santa-themed touches. Both courses come together at the end at Santa's lodge, complete with Christmas tree and Santa making his way up (or down) the chimney.

Another nice part about both Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens is the cost, especially for Annual Passholders. Adults (ages 10 and up) cost around $12 for 18 holes, while children (ages 3-9) cost around $10. Annual Passholders get a 50% discount (at least they did as of this post -- be sure to ask). There may be additional discounts (AAA, DVC, etc.), so be sure to ask when you arrive.

My family and I had a fantastic time at Winter Summerland. It was nice to be able to do something fun together for an hour or so in the evening without the hustle and bustle of watching a nighttime event, such as Illuminations.

Give Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland a try during your next trip -- it's worth the effort!

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