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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tip Tuesday: Fantasia Gardens

Welcome to another Tip Tuesday!

This week, let's go back to Walt Disney World to discuss one of my favorite non-park activities - mini golf.  It's a fun activity that isn't all that expensive.  As of this post, a round costs around $14 for adults and $10 for kids under 10.  Annual passholders often get huge discounts (as much as 50% off).

I've written previously about Winter Summerland, the other mini golf area at Walt Disney World, located next to Blizzard Beach.

Fantasia Gardens, however, is quite different in many ways from Winter Summerland.  First, this activity is within easy walking distance of any of the Epcot area deluxe resorts (Boardwalk, Beach/Yacht Club, Dolphin or Swan) so getting there is pretty easy - at least for these guests - just follow the blue line as noted in the map above.  For guests from other resorts, it get a bit more cumbersome without your own transportation.  Fantasia Gardens is located next to the Swan Resort.  The best way to get to Fantasia Gardens from any non-Epcot area resort via Disney transportation is to take a bus to any park or the Ticket & Transportation Center and then take a bus to the Swan.  Alternatively, guests can travel to Disney's Hollywood Studios and then take the Friendship Boat to the Swan and then walk past the pool area to reach Fantasia Gardens.

Like Winter Summerland, Fantasia Gardens has two 18-hole courses, the Fantasia Gardens course or the Fairways course.  The Fantasia Gardens course is similar to the two courses at Winter Summerland in that each hole has whimsical obstacles to overcome, often involving water or some other challenge.  This course is especially fun for kids as they have to deal with all sorts of mishaps related to the movie Fantasia.  Some of these holes can be pretty tricky and it takes a keen eye and often more than a bit of courage and timing to make the right stroke.

Image courtesy

The other course, the Fairways course, is a completely different "ball game" (sorry for the pun, couldn't resist!).  This course is not your typical mini golf course with dips and tunnels and obstacles.  Instead, as the name implies, this course is a putting version of a real golf course, complete with sand traps and other hazards.  There are plenty of undulations to overcome and some holes are longer than others.

Personally, of these two courses, I prefer the Fairways course.  It is a true putting challenge for golfers.  While the Fantasia Gardens course is fun, there is much more skill and finesse required for the Fairways course.  For that reason, I wouldn't recommend the Fairways course for young children.  They'll just get frustrated and upset because of the higher degree of difficulty. 

One other consideration - when to go.  If you're visiting Walt Disney World in the warmer months, I recommend waiting until evening to visit Fantasia Gardens as it can be uncomfortable in the heat of the day.  During the cooler months, it's not so bad.  If you play these courses at night, and if your timing is right, you can catch some elements of Illuminations and Fantasmic in the distance.

So the next time you're at WDW and are looking for something to do outside the parks -- check out Fantasia Gardens and maybe even take the challenge and play the Fairways course!

Good luck!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Photo Friday: Happy Fourth from Disneyland!

Happy 4th of July!

For this week's Photo Friday, let's head back in time to July 4th, 2013 and this shot from Disneyland's 4th of July fireworks celebration!

It's amazing how much fireworks can light up the night sky, this shot has not been altered at all (aside from resizing) - the sky was really that red during the fireworks.

Enjoy and happy birthday America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tip Tuesday: How to "win" at DCA carnival games

Time for another Tip Tuesday!

This week, let's once again head out to California to Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure park.  We've all seen those boardwalk-style carnival games where guests plunk down a few dollars to try their hand at winning some sort of plush or other toy.  Those of you who are parents know how kids gravitate to these type of games as if they were a magnet.  I've seen plenty of instances where people (guys mostly) will try round after round after round to win something for their girlfriend or child.

So how can you come away a winner without breaking the bank?

The trick is to know which games to play -- those where everyone wins!  This is especially key when dealing with children.  There is one game at Paradise Pier, Goofy About Fishing, where no matter what you do, the player always wins.  This is a great game for smaller children because it's very easy for them to play.  Players use a small fishing pole with a magnet on the end to "catch" a fish.  Keep in mind that this game, like so many others, have different levels of winners.  It all depends on the color of the dot on the underside of the fish you catch.  The vast majority of fish have the lowest level color, while only a handful have the middle level color and only one or two have the top level color.  In any case, the player always wins, that's the key part to stress here.  In the photo above, the farmer Mickey was a middle-level prize.

Besides, if you win one of those huge plush figures, how in the world are you getting it home, especially if you're flying?  You just might not want to win big when you think about it.

Keep playing and good luck!

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