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Disney-inspired Woody's Golf Range in Herndon celebrates 30 years

Marcus Carino, 8, runs past a Komodo dragon at the Perils of the Lost Jungle miniature golf course at Woody's Golf Range.
Marcus Carino, 8, runs past a Komodo dragon at the Perils of the Lost Jungle miniature golf course at Woody's Golf Range. (Shamus Ian Fatzinger/fairfax County Times)

In 2000, FitzHugh attended a convention of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and purchased his first animatronic character, an alligator that shoots a stream of water from its mouth at unwitting mini-golfers as they walk past the 17th hole.

The $12,000 investment soon paid off, he said, because attendance quickly rose and remained steady.

"I decided then to create a storyline," he said. "A jungle passage that was closed off in the 1940s because it was too dangerous. Golfers need a passport to enter and have to maneuver through all the lost jungle's obstacles as they progress through the course."

The obstacles include vampire bats, poison frogs, blow-dart-spewing natives, witch doctors, tarantulas, killer bees and a man-eating gorilla. Along the way, animated guides "Nigel Bogey" and "Charlie Wallnut" provide golfers with tips and quips as a bellowing Tarzan swings across the complex on a vine.

A round at Perils of the Lost Jungle costs $9.75 for adults and $8.75 for children younger than 13. Michelle Franken of Chantilly is among those customers. She recently navigated the course with her two young sons.

"We had never been here before," she said. "I had no idea it was so animated. . . . It's like an amusement park."

"It really is an amazing place to work," said 17-year-old Reed Hernandez, who has been wearing a pith helmet and checking golfers' passports since March. "This is the most elaborate and dynamic putt-putt course I have ever seen. It sure beats flipping burgers or working at Starbucks."


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