Golf Resort at Walt Disney World

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Features, Imaginerding, Walt Disney World

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Published on July 22, 2013 at 12:01 am with 12 Comments

It’s obvious that I’m a sucker for Disney ephemera. Not just typical ephemera either (like maps, brochures, napkins, etc), but ephemera for the Disney that’s no longer around. A primary definition of ephemera is anything short-lived. For intents and purposes of the ImagiNERDing column, I will use ephemera to refer to Disney attractions, resorts, shops and restaurants that are no longer around.

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The Golf Resort

The Golf Resort was the third resort to open at Walt Disney World in 1973. It was off of the monorail loop, but still considered adjacent to the Magic Kingdom. It’s an interesting piece of Walt Disney World history because it wasn’t pushed as much as the more showy Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts. Both of those were showcases of the property and received a lot more press.

golf-eyes-ears-1973

The Golf Resort was officially dedicated on December 15, 1973 and opened with 151 rooms. The Trophy Room was the main dining area and had seating for 186 guests. Breakfast and dinner were waitress service (Disney’s words, not mine) and the luncheon was a buffet. Live entertainment was also scheduled for the evening at the Trophy Room. The Trophy Room would also feature one of the first character dining events. In April, 1981, the Walt Disney World News announced the Dining a la Disney evening meal. “Each evening at 5pm., Walt Disney characters will arrive at the Golf Resort’s Trophy Room to mingle with guests and pass out a gift to each child.” This is the earliest mention of a daily character dining experience. (Check out my article on the history of character dining.)

The Players’ Gallery was also available for relaxation after a strenuous day of golf (or visiting the Magic Kingdom) and included drink specialties such as: Double Eagles (Kahlua, Amaretto and brandy blended with cream); Lateral Hazards (sangria, triple sec and rum); Strawberry Colada Bogeys (rum, strawberries, pineapple juice and cream of coconut); and Duffer’s Delight (brandy, triple sec and orange juice).  The Tournament Room was available for functions for up to 40 people. The dining services at the Golf Resort were always favorites of Walt Disney World executives. Not only were the lines much shorter than the Polynesian, but many of the executives were huge golf fans.

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The above map was featured heavily in various Disney publications (like The Story of Walt Disney World and Vacationland) in the late 1970s and mid-1980s. The Golf Inn was surrounded by two 18-hole, par 72 championship golf courses, the Palm Course and the Magnolia Course.

The image above is from the 1977 edition of the amazing Story of Walt Disney World Commemorative Edition. You can see how remote the resort is from the rest of the property and the two golf courses that surround it. Even though the Golf Resort never found it’s true identity, like the Contemporary and Polynesian resorts, it would be expanded over the years to almost double its room capacity.

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The resort also included the Pro Shop, which carried a full range of golf, tennis and leisurewear. In addition to sports equipment and accessories, the Pro Shop would also feature some cutting-edge video technology in relation to golf lessons.

Golfers could sign up for the Golf Studio and have their swings videotaped and analyzed and critiqued by a golf professional. You actually received a personal audio cassette that restated suggestions offered from the program. The resort also featured Wee Links, a 6-hole, 23-acre course that debuted in 1980. It was designed for teaching youngsters and included, for a nominal fee: rental equipment, one lesson and unlimited use of the course .

[...]one of the new features of the Resort is its method of guest registration. “This new system is completely computerized with the additional ability of checking room availability with just the touch of a button. Our other resorts also operate on a computer system. but Housekeeping is responsible for keeping the front desk up—to—date on the conditions of the rooms . . . whether they are ready for the guest. Now everything is tied into one system which is speedier and far more efficient.” Eyes & Ears, November 10, 1973

The Golf Resort was originally planned to be a country club, where guests could play during the day, while staying overnight elsewhere in the Vacation Kingdom. However, due to the interests of golfers in having a resort world of their own, hotel accommodations were added in 1973. Today, the cozy wood and volcanic-stone clubhouse features 151 guest rooms, each with a pleasant view and enough peace and quiet to soothe even the most savage duffer. Walt Disney World the First Decade, p. 117.

Then the 1984 Steve Birnbaum’s Guide to Walt Disney World:

Though the rooms here look about the same as those at the two sister Disney hotels, they’re actually a few feet larger. Decorated in subtle earth tones, the Golf Resort also has a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere-more akin to that of the Walt Disney World Village Villas. But the Golf Resort is miles more convenient: buses make the short trip between the Golf Resort, the Polynesian Village, and the Transportation and Ticket Center every ten minutes or so.

I’ve not seen any photos of the interior of the Golf Resort. Does anyone have any they can share?

The resort included a 60 foot swimming pool with the odd architectural feature/splash area.

There was also mention of The Out of Bounds, an employees’ snack and break area which was completely glassed in and was to give a view of the Magnolia Course.

Anyone have more information about The Out of Bounds?

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Fall/Winter 1975/76 Vacationland

One of the perennial golf tournaments held at the Golf Resort.

I posted most of the images that I’ve been able to find in official publications from the first fifteen years. The Golf Resort would go through a major change that includes additional rooms and a name change in the mid-1980s.

Did you ever get to experience the Golf Resort? Do you have stories or photos you can share? Any more information about The Out of Bounds employee break area?


ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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12 Comments

Comments for Golf Resort at Walt Disney World are now closed.

  1. Love the pictures. I remember those fountains well as well as the pro shop. We stayed at the Golf Resort at least once or twice but my dad loved the golf shirts with a golfing Mickey so we visited the pro shop on most yearly trips. We stayed again in the 80′s after it changed to the Disney Inn.

    • So, your dad actually took you guys to the Pro Shop just for the shirts? That’s such a great story. I’m still dying to see images of the lobby and the rooms. Thanks for sharing!

      • He did, every trip. The funnier part is that he doesn’t golf. just liked mickey golfing.

  2. It was a really nice laid back Hotel. The Trophy Room was very popular with Disney Execs for lunch because of the excellence food, light crowds and views. The Employee cafeteria was behind the Trophy Room kitchens on the same elevated 2nd floor level, yes the views were great. This was a time when local restaurant kitchens ran the cafeterias and this was one of the best,featuring from time to time Trophy Rm items!
    Lobby decor had lots of dark rough sawn cedar no theming rather generic abut nicely done.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      I’m still amazed that there are no photos of the lobby or the rooms. I found some things from the Disney Inn period, but nothing from earlier. If you have any photos, I’d love to see them!

  3. I stayed at the Disney Inn in 1988. It was a lower priced hotel and you could catch the monorail at the Polynesian Resort. I remember on the kids menu you could order lobster! The dinning room and hotel rooms were very nice. I wish they still offered the Disney Inn but I’m sure the prices today would be a lot higher.

    • I bet it would be considered a Deluxe hotel because of the size of the rooms, but the lack of a few amenities (only bus service and no water craft) might rub people the wrong way. Still, Disney”s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a Deluxe resort and only offers bus transportation.

      Was it weird to walk from the hotel to the Polynesian?

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. You didn’t mention what happened to this resort. I’m learning from commentors that it turned into the Disney Inn. What is the Disney Inn now? Is this now the site of the military hotel?

    • The Golf Resort was renamed the Disney Inn in 1986 and Shades of Green in 1994. I will be covering this in an upcoming article. :)

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Although I never stayed at the Golf Resort, I remember it very well. We on the Disney Dining Plan (back in 1978) so we ate dinner at the Trophy Room. Back then the plan was very inexpensive, maybe $20 per day. Do this day I remember that dinner: Oyster Rockefeller to start, then Lobster Thermidore, and for dessert we had Fried Ice Cream on a peach half (the first time I ever saw that on a menu). What a place!

    I use to collect shot glasses back then (inexpensive and easy to pack) and I still have the one from the Golf Resort!

    • What a great story! French fried ice cream was a huge deal and received mention in MANY Disney publications.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. [...] article, “Golf Resort at Walt Disney World“, makes for a great nostalgic look back at the early days of Walt Disney World and has some [...]