Played on December 26th, 2016
Reviewed by the Pink Putter
After a lovely evening of mini golf at Universal’s City Walk, we woke up the next morning ready for a Disney adventure. We had a little trouble with the drive to Winter Summerland, as our Google Maps brought us to the Disney Springs shopping area. But after a small detour, we were on our way. Once we arrived at our destination, we got a front parking spot without a problem and headed into this perfectly holiday-themed 36-hole mini golf wonderland. Unlike the Disney Theme Parks, mini golf was pleasantly quiet and did not have horrendous crowds or lines. We started with a round at the Summer Course, aka Sand Course, since there was zero wait time.
Hole-in-One – From the front entrance to the final hole, no detail of this course went unnoticed. In true Disney fashion, the immaculate theming all started with a story line. The Christmas season just ended and Santa and his off-duty elves set up a tropical vacation camp filled with sandcastles, surfboards and swimming pools. These are just a few of the fun thematic elements that you’ll putt through in Summerland. Small details like funny stickers on the back of the elve’s camper trailers, sound effects and a fake snow machine added a lot to the narrative. At the start of each hole, players are greeted by a giant candy cane stanchion with a clever rhyme that describes the hole, the story behind it and a hint at what to aim for. Every hole has a thoughtful fun, unique and immersive game play element to it, including fish that spray water, a moving sandcastle door, a giant ribbon loop, an Archemedes screw North Pole and a revolving Christmas tree, to name a few. And in addition to the faux beach landscape, players are surrounded by the pop tunes of the early Beach Boys. Once again, Disney has created an experience that successfully transports players into a whole different world. We also noticed some interesting similarities between Summerland and Universal’s Hollywood Drive-In Golf including sleeping/snoring characters buried underground (the graveyard hole at Ghostly Greens and Santa and his Elves sleeping in the sand) and characters spitting out water when you cross a bridge (aliens at Ghostly Greens and the fish at Hole 3 in Summerland). Since Winter Summerland opened in 1999 and Hollywood Drive-In Golf opened in 2012, it should come as little surprise that the designers at Universal were heavily inspired by their Disney competition. And while the heavy theming and pristine decor that makes this course feel so Disney does take away from the sense of unique personality that we see at other standout courses like Par King and Urban Putt, it is so well designed that we can’t help but rate this as one of the best courses we’ve played in the country.
Immaculate tropical beach theming
Fun and diverse game play
Entertaining and engaging interactive elements including spraying water, snoring elves, moving clamshells and an Archemedes screw North Pole
Completely immersive environment
Small crowds, short wait times
Due to light rain, some of the holes had foliage debris on the turf
- 18 holes, Par 56
- Final hole collects balls
- Course leaderboard
- Rubber covered putters
- No flags in holes