There’s nothing mini about Mickey’s place. Covering an area twice the size of Manhattan, Walt Disney World’s colorful sprawl encompasses four theme parks, two water parks, 20 resorts and 99 holes of golf. But don’t let the scale put you off. Anything’s possible — including a spring fling that features both great golf and Goofy.
Fly to Orlando and head to Disney World. You won’t need a car so grab a cab (about $55) and make a beeline for the Polynesian resort. Favored by pros with kids during the annual PGA Tour stop, it’s perfectly located across the street from the Palm, Magnolia and Oak Trail courses — just three of Disney’s six tracks.
Drop your bags and pick up the keys to the Magic Kingdom. Advanced planning will save you money (check out the length-of-stay and Park Hopper ticket options) and time (skip the long lines with Disney’s Fast Pass, which gets you on certain rides at an assigned time). The new Mickey’s Philharmagic, a 3-D movie experience, is a must for any group. My family headed for the mountains — Space, Splash and Big Thunder — which my 6- and 8-year-old daughters handled just fine.
After a catnap, give the kids a whack at family-friendly Oak Trail (2,913 yards, par 36), Disney’s nine-hole, walkers-only course. After dinner at the Polynesian’s ‘Ohana restaurant, hunker down on a manmade beach to ooh and aah at the nightly fireworks show.
Disney-MGM Studios opens early to resort guests, so head straight for the Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster — unless you ate a big breakfast. While the non-golfers check out Blizzard Beach water park, play the Joe Lee-designed Magnolia course (7,190 yards), one of three Tour venues here. More than 1,500 magnolia trees line the fairways, and the Mickey-shaped bunker on the 6th hole is a whimsical reminder that you’re here to have fun.
After sundown, kids can hang out at The Never Land Club at the Polynesian for an evening complete with crafts, movies, dinner and a goodie bag. Meanwhile, grownups can enjoy uninterrupted conversation and Asian-fusion fare at the California Grill, atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort. (Tom Lehman, a father of four, swears by the warm Valrhona chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream.) For the family that eats together, there’s the Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney West Side. A great dessert is next door at Cirque du Soleil’s show called La Nouba.
Snare the first tee time at Tom Fazio’s Osprey Ridge (7,101 yards), which winds through pine, palmetto and cypress trees. Course attendants will return your clubs to the Polynesian while you dash to meet the family at the Contemporary for breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and friends. Take the kids on a G-force-filled trip to Mars at Mission Space, the newest attraction at Epcot, or squeeze in another thrill ride at Eagle Pines, a 6,772-yard Pete Dye tester that proves old Walt wasn’t the only one who could work magic.
The clock is ticking, so before you get sleepy or grouchy, hop over to the Animal Kingdom and the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride, where the Lion King and other beasts of the jungle roam within camera range. Back at the airport, get to your gate and — for the first time in days — take a deep breath and relax.
Walt Disney World
407-WDISNEY; disneyworld.com For tee times, call 407-938-GOLF.