A man playing the Pixar Putt-Putt Course

Photo: Daniel Ortiz

With holes that challenge players to maneuver friendly three-eyed monsters, play inside a dinosaur’s foot and toss a ball over the strings of a guitar, a new miniature golf course has opened its doors at Discovery Green.

At Pixar Putt, each of the 18 holes features a different Disney-Pixar animated film, with more than one chance to play alongside “Toy Story” characters.

The outdoor course, which has already popped up in Australia and Battery Park City in New York, is a deceptive challenge for children and adults alike, says Sydney Steele, who represents the production company behind the traveling course.

From the first hole, players will recognize the shiny turquoise motorcycle of “Luca”. It’s parked near the starting field where they’ll attempt to throw their ball uphill and then through miniature houses that mimic those in the Italian town where the film is set.

During the “Inside Out” challenge, players stand on a stool and choose an emotion by choosing from colors that represent characters from the movie, disgust, joy, sadness, anger or fear. After dropping their ball into the corresponding hole, they will see it shoot through white tubes similar to Riley’s brain “pathways” in the movie.

Putting Pixar

When: until March 22; Open 7 days a week, variable hours

Or: Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney

Details: Starting at $26 per person or a family package of 4 starting at $99; pixarputt.com

To play “Coco,” visitors toss their ball over the top of a large guitar and then onto a marigold-covered papel picado bridge. The yellow flower is significant in Dia de los Muertos, which is celebrated in history.

At other holes, players launch their balls using a giant joystick or send them flying by playing piano keys.

The fence that borders the new course is intentionally low, Steele says, so park passers-by might be drawn to recognizable characters.

With twinkling lights hanging above colorful umbrellas and speakers softly playing songs like “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” she said, “It’s very inviting, it’s fun.”

“Kids run to the fence and look inside and shout, ‘It’s the alien from Toy Story’ or ‘It’s Ratatouille!’ “”, She says.

Adults without children in tow sometimes identify characters just as quickly, she adds.

“There’s this nostalgia with Pixar,” Steele says. “If you’re in your 40s or late 30s, you kind of grew up with Pixar’s adulthood” with film releases including 1995’s “Toy Story.”

Speaking of 1995, at the “Cars” hole, players are invited to hit their ball inside Lightning McQueen’s stroke number.

“Adults can kind of go back to their youth and see that joy that comes from each of those movies,” she says.

Special Thursday-Saturday night programming is for adults only, with booze coming soon.

Other films represented on the 18-hole course include ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘WALL-E’, ‘Onward’ and ‘Brave’.

Near the end of the course, players take in the sight of a bug at “A Bug’s Life,” where they hit their ball uphill on a giant leaf, then play around an oversized golf tee, buttonhole and of a match.

At “Ratatouille,” they’ll slice it around a chef’s knife, then bounce it on a baguette and a wheel of brie. The final hole, representing “Up”, involves an employee throwing balls by hand to lift the player’s ball into the air.

The course lasts approximately 90 minutes.

“If you’re like me, it takes a little longer because I’m a bad player,” laughs Steele.

Families pause for photo ops throughout to document their favorite films, each of which “draws on the magic of Disney,” Steele says of stories that “connect us to the world we live in and… . challenge us to leave him a better place.”

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.




  • Allison Bagley

    Allison Bagley is a freelance writer for the Houston Chronicle.