While summer is vacation season, not everyone can afford to take time off work. If you are looking for a local getaway that will fit into your hectic schedule, look no further than Valparaiso’s Zao Island, which just incorporated seven new holes into the miniature golf experience.
If you have previously visited, you may feel you’re familiar with its attractions. However, you’ll find some differences during your next visit. Zao Island has been hard at work updating and adding exciting new attractions.
“We added seven really cool scenes. We added the lighthouse windmill, the pong hole, the half-pipe hole, the machine hole, the hobbit house hole, the phone booth hole, and the Cubs and Sox hole,” said Ryan Wright, partner at Zao Island.
The Lighthouse Windmill Hole
With a colorful paint job, studded bricks, whimsical structure, and starfish-like windmill, the lighthouse windmill is sure to capture the eye and make for a fun obstacle in the mini-golf course.
The Pong Hole
The pong hole is equipped with a shiny metal ramp and red buckets that will keep mini-golfers guessing. Each bucket will make your golf ball go in a different direction. One bucket even spits the ball back at you.
The Half-Pipe Hole
This new hole is Wright’s favorite, resembling a skateboard ramp where mini-golfers can whack the ball in all sorts of directions.
“I thought it was really creative,” Wright said. “It’s fun to hit at an angle. It makes it challenging. Even if you try, it doesn’t always go where you think it would go.”
The Machine Hole
Wright noted that the machine hole is packed with different possibilities that can alter the trajectory of your golf ball.
“It’s kind of like a Rube Goldberg machine. You hit it up and you have three options and it rolls down. The outcome depends on which one you pick,” Wright said.
The Hobbit House Hole
The Hobbit house hole is a tribute to The Lord of the Rings and sports wooden shingles, a round window, and, of course, a bright round door. This staple of fantasy adds an air of fun as you work your way through the mini-golf course.
The Phone Booth Hole
The phone booth hole adds to the fun with the push of a button.
“We built our own payphone that has sound effects for the buttons,” Wright said. “When the kids hit the buttons, it plays Fortnite sound effects and some random sound effects. It’s actually the same phonebooth that’s in the game Fortnite.”
The Cubs and Sox Hole
This hole is designed to look like Wrigley Field and is sure to please baseball fans. Whether you’re a Cubs or Sox fan, this hole will remind you of the classic sport so many grew up playing and watching. The hole mimics the beloved sport as golfers start at home plate and work their way around the pitcher’s mound.
While the new attractions in the mini-golf course already look great, Wright said there is more to come.
“We’re just trying to do some new creative stuff. We have more special effects coming like fun sound effects, fog machine-like stuff, lights, and other things,” Wright said.
Aside from the mini-golf course, Zao Island has added new features scattered throughout their property, including photo opportunities.
“We have three antique cars that serve as prop cars around the facility. We have a 1964 International Metro Van that we restored ourselves. It’s got our logo on the front for people to take pictures by,” Wright said. “We have an old teal truck that has surfboards in the back which serves as another picture spot. We also have this really cool hotrod that focuses on our greenhouse event area.”
Arcade fans have a surprise in store. Zao Island has added a new game to the arcade called Power Roll. Players must pull the plunger the right distance to get it to land in the right spot. This game requires skill and can lead to impressive ticket winnings if players can beat the odds.
Those who want to get moving will be thrilled to hear that Zao Island has installed a color-changing dance floor in their event building, which is also known as the greenhouse.
Zao Island is happy to again provide live music opportunities throughout the summer. They have live music on Saturdays from 7-10 p.m.
To learn what bands are performing each weekend and stay in tune for any selfie challenges, be sure to follow the Zao Island Facebook page.