Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Miniature Golf at Disneyland

Daveland reader Ross was kind enough to share his score card and photos from the beloved Golf Centre/Miniature Golf Course that used to be at the Disneyland Hotel. Here are Ross' memories:

The DL Miniature Golf Course was visible from the monorail station at the DL Hotel. It depicted Disneyland in miniature and was there from the late-'50s/early-'60s to around 1981. It was owned and operated by the Wrather company, which of course also ran the DL Hotel. And that's probably why it had fallen into some disrepair by the mid-'70s when I first visited it.

It was my first experience with miniature golf and is still high on my list of all-time favorite miniature golf courses. It's also among my all-time favorite Disneyland attractions. As far as where it was, throughout the '80s and '90s there was a strawberry field in its place with a parking lot next to it (the original parking lot for the golf course) across the street from Disneyland and separated from the Hotel by a minor street (Cerritos). Thus, certain features of it (particularly the miniature Matterhorn) could be seen from the monorail station as well as by people exiting Disneyland's parking lot on the hotel side.

I remember a lot of the holes, but there are also a lot that I don't remember at all (e.g., the octopus lair, skull rock...). I see that the Mickey Mouse fountain is listed as the last hole. My memory is that it was visible at the beginning.

Other memories: there was music from Disney films played in the different areas. For example, "Alice in Wonderland" music was played at the putt related to that attraction. (The putt itself had obstacles: large cards standing up that you had to maneuver the ball around.)

Main Street, U.S.A. consisted of the train station and I believe store fronts. At Sleeping Beauty Castle, you had to get your ball over the castle drawbridge. I vaguely remember the Moon Rocket (a facsimile of the TWA/McDonnell Douglas rocket, which was absent from Disneyland by the time I started visiting the golf course) and Autopia (where I seem to recall road signs and a cloverleaf). As I mentioned, I don't recall Octopus' Lair; however, I have spoken to another person who went there, Mike Oppenheimer (who would play there while his father, renowned golfer Joe Oppenheimer, practiced on the traditional golf course, which was on the same premises). He recalled the octopus being brownish (like the one on Submarine Voyage), and you had to thread the ball between the arms.

The Painted Desert was an area where I especially noticed signs of disrepair. There were holes in the fiberglass cliffs. The Frontierland hole featured a miniature of the Mark Twain Steamboat. Monstro has always stood out in my memory and was a miniature version of the one at Disneyland. You were supposed to hit your ball into his mouth.

In the 1990s I tried to research the golf course and actually corresponded with a few Disney Imagineers (e.g., David Mumford) who remembered it from their own childhood. I never could find out if Disney was involved in designing it.

Many thanks to Ross for sharing his memories and images!

See more vintage & current Disneyland Hotel photos on my Disneyland Hotel photo web page.


K. Martinez said...

Enjoyable read on the details of this long gone attraction. The Painted Desert sounds interesting as does Octopus' Lair.

I wonder if a miniature golf course would be a success on the Anaheim property today. I kind of doubt it because the revenue per square foot wouldn't be attractive enough for todays Disney. Too bad as I enjoy a round of Miniature Golf now and then.

Thanks for sharing your collection and memories Ross!

stu29573 said...

You know, with the right amount of pictures and research, this is something that could be replicated if someone had a large back yard...Hmmmm (wheels begin to turn...)

Daveland said...

K. - I think a miniature golf course would be a great addition to the Hotel if re-introduced; just don't know where it would go, and as you pointed out, it comes down to return on investment.

Stu - Send me photos when you create it!

stu29573 said...

That might be a while Dave. But if I do, you will be the first to know!

Major Pepperidge said...

I love me some mini golf! Just imagine what they could build today.

Jason Schultz said...

Yep, definitely designed by Disney:

Disneylander (August 1961): The most interesting miniature 18 hole course is practically a replica of Disneyland itself. It will be completely lighted for night play and many feel it will be so popular with Disneylanders as well as Hotel guests and residents of the Disneyland area that it will be the wee small hours of the morning before it closes for the night.
Each hole on the miniature course will remind players of one of Disneyland's many features. As an example, the first tee is a replica of the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad Station at the Main Entrance to the Park, while the third tee has a miniature of the Fantasyland castle, draw bridge, courtyard parapet and rock island.
The fifth tee represents the Matterhorn ticket office and the hole will feature raceways to three separate greens and will include two metal tubes for crossing the bobsled waterways.
The seventh, eighth and ninth holes will remind players of the Rocket to the Moon, the Submarine Voyage and the Richfield Autopia respectively while the eleventh will consist of rock work, benches, and simulated cacti.
The Frontierland area is easily recognized in the next three holes with a reproduction of the Frontierland Fort entrance, Indian Village and the Grist Mill on Tom Sawyer's Island.
The popular Story Book Land adventure is reproduced on the fifteenth hole with a replica of Monstro the Whale while Peter Pan and the adventures of the Darling children will be seen and enjoyed on the next hole.
The eighteenth and final hole will feature a water fountain showing Mickey Mouse himself, holding a golf club, which will make a fitting finale to a delightful experience for anyone who cares to play a game of miniature golf, the Disneyland Hotel way.
The Disney art director on the miniature course has been Yale Gracey and Al Applegate [Engineering] has acted as the coordinator of construction. Other Disneyland experts who have supervised the construction include Andy Anderson [Carpentry], Larry Smith [Paint Department] and Bud Washo [Staff Shop]. Their advice is that even Disneylanders who have never had a golf club in their hands should be sure to try a game as soon as possible.
[caption] Mickey Mouse makes a fitting finale at the eighteenth hole of the new Miniature Golf Course at the Disneyland Hotel.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating, I never knew this existed. We played MG once at the one on Harbor near Melodyland.

Thank you.


Daveland said...

Thanks Jason!

Douglas McEwan said...

I remember that minature golf course. The mini-Matterhorn could also be seen as you drove up the street heading north from the hotel or south towards it. It was extremely charming. The problem was obvious, the time you spent there could be better spent riding rides in the park. But it's charm was wonderful.

Sofia Karg said...

It’s too bad that they decided to take this down. My love for golf as an adult came from loving miniature golf as my parents took me to them on weekends as a family day activity. I would have loved to have been able to play this course.