Movies aren’t just movies anymore — they’re experiences. Sometimes, that experience is mini-golf.
Earlier this month, Polygon staffers Petrana Radulovic and Austen Goslin journeyed to the west side of New York City to play through Pixar Putt, a Pixar-themed mini-golf “experience,” running through Oct. 1. The course, made up of 18 Pixar-themed holes, tested their putting skills (someone got a hole in one). But as Disney experts, they couldn’t help but evaluate the whole hole experience. There’s a difference between a themed hole and an immersive Pixar experience. Obviously.
Pixar Putt kicks off at a hole tied to this summer’s Luca, the Italy-set sea monster adventure about friendship, which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD. On hand for our putt-putt action was actress Emma Berman, who plays Giulia, the plucky fishmonger’s daughter who befriends sea monsters Alberto and Luca. Berman shared how she related to her character.
“We’re both very energetic and goofy and awkward sometimes,” Berman said. “But she also inspires me to be such a hard worker, and she’s a good friend and a loyal friend, a good daughter and everything. I do relate to her in the sense that we’re both very passionate about our dreams.” (Her favorite character besides Giulia, she also informed us, is Machiavelli the grumpy cat).
Berman doesn’t greet every guest at the Luca hole, but the tie-in designs for the rest of the course were up to par. As Pixar fans, here is our official Polygon Pixar Putt assessment.
18. The Good Dinosaur hole
Can you tell what movie this is from? Because we couldn’t at first. I had to look up a list of Pixar movies in order to figure out which one was missing and then I typed in “Good dinosaur gophers??” Sure enough, there is a gopher scene in Pixar’s somewhat maligned prehistoric adventure movie. In my defense, I think I fell asleep the one and only time I watched The Good Dinosaur. —Petrana Radulovic
17. The Cars hole
As Polygon’s resident Cars Stan™, I obviously took a picture with the Lightning McQueen-themed hole. And while I was very happy to see it, I couldn’t help but think it had more potential. After all, this is Cars we’re talking about — the hole could be a racetrack! Or the stretch of desert road where Doc Hudson teaches Lightning McQueen to drift! Or even just… like tires on a road! The Cars hole gets points for being flashy, much like Mr. McQueen himself, but … immersive, it was not. —Petrana
16. The Wall-E hole
It was very cute, but that’s about it. I do love EVE’s lil’ smile. —Petrana
15. The creepy Toy Story 4 ventriloquist hole
In case you couldn’t tell, this is an homage to the Toy Story sequel from 2019. I do not like the lifeless eyes of this puppet man staring at me, but that did not stop me from taking a picture where I pretend to be it. —Petrana
14. The Monsters Inc. hole
This hole is basically a first draft of a Monsters Inc. mini-golf hole. It isn’t bad, but it also isn’t exciting. There are doors and one part of the course is Sully-colored, so we knew right away that it was Monsters Inc., but the course is narrow and didn’t allow for much other than a straightforward trip to the flag. —Austen
13. A Bug’s Life hole
There’s a leaf. The leaf is curved and points directly to the hole … that’s it, that’s all there is. —Austen
12. The Onward hole
On the Onward hole, there’s a van with a ramp, and once you hit the ball inside, it rolls out the tailpipe. The only problem is that the ramp is a little slick and uneven, which means you have to hit it pretty hard — so sometimes, the ball’s spot gets weird after it exits the tailpipe. On the other hand, this hole had great thematic elements like fantasy-themed flags and decorations, so it wins back a few points there. —Austen
11. The Incredibles hole
My favorite part of the Incredibles hole is that you get to choose which member of the Parr family your golf ball ends up in. Interactive! The bright colors really elevate this hole, even if the Omnidroid could be better integrated. As it stands, it’s just there for the balls to roll under. —Petrana
10. The Buzz Lightyear hole
This hole is kind of boring and the one time I did it I missed the ramp entirely and still got a hole in one. That being said, I did get a hole-in-one, and that kind of flattery is rewarded here. —Austen
AUSTEN GOT A HOLE-IN-ONE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! —Petrana
9. The Toy Story alien hole
Toy Story is well represented on the Pixar Putt course, but this one is my personal favorite. It’d be cooler if the claw did something, but as it stands: cool concept, could be better in execution. —Petrana
8. The Inside Out hole
This is a pretty good hole to play, although it’s not really all that Inside Out-themed. If you painted this a little differently, I’m not sure I’d be able to guess it. Oh well, it’s still a pretty good putt-putt hole either way. —Austen
7. The Luca hole
I do really like the design of this one — in theory. It harkens back to the climatic moment of the movie, where the three kids need to bike down the hill for the Portorosso Cup. However, it is the first hole of the experience and absolutely way too hard! Or maybe I am just very bad at mini-golf! —Petrana
6. The Ratatouille hole
A rat’s-eye view — nice. This hole is more complex than the Bug’s Life one, and the little details, like the writing on the milk carton, really make it (even if the chef’s hat is not to size, but OK we can forgive that). The only drawback is, I’m genuinely not sure where to step here without accidentally knocking into a knife. —Petrana
5. The Soul hole
This hole is so cool. The cityscape with the piano staircase is a great look, it’s tall and exciting, and it fits the movie perfectly. It’s pretty straightforward, which keeps it from the very top of our list, but it’s really excellent. —Austen
4. The Brave hole
This was really a pass/fail kind of hole. The designers either put a functioning archery target for you to shoot your ball toward or they didn’t. Thankfully, they came through here and it instantly gains a top-5 spot on our list. —Austen
3. The Coco hole
This hole involves putting the ball down the strings of a guitar. It’s a fantastic feature and feels exciting — even if it puts the ball on rails. The course also features a massive bridge that’s pretty challenging, as the ball can skip over the edge of the course if you go too fast over the bridge. Front to back, this totally captures the movie while also being a fun and unique mini-golf hole that probably would exist if it wasn’t Coco-themed. —Austen
2. The Up hole
This is just cool! The little house is … supposed to go up!! Just like the name of the movie! The only reason this doesn’t completely sweep is that we were too intimidated to try it because we were afraid of breaking it, but judging by video footage of people who actually successfully golfed this hole ... it looks cool! —Petrana
1. The Finding Nemo hole, my beloved
Now this is what I’m talking about. Not only does the Finding Nemo hole look like it was lifted from the movie set, it was also surprisingly tricky! It is not specifically ocean- or fish-themed, but it is clear what movie this is from. Also, while tricky (those slats!), it is still feasible for someone as horrible at mini-golf as I am. Am I biased because Nigel the Pelican is my Disneystrology counterpart? Perhaps. —Petrana
All these Pixar movies are available on Disney Plus, with Luca out on Blu-ray and DVD now.
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