UFO's mini-golf course on Florida beach is nod to local history of sightings
Pensacola Beach's new mini-golf course was designed to be an out-of-this-world experience as a nod to Gulf Breeze's history with a string of alleged UFO sightings.
UFO's, next to Casino Beach, is in its first summer of operation. Innisfree Hotels underwent a remodel of its deteriorating tiki-themed mini-golf course over the winter, building a new course, an ice cream shop and arcade, complete with plenty of aliens dotting the facility.
"In the '80s, we were certain we had UFOs in Gulf Breeze," said Jason Nicholson, vice president of Innisfree Hotels. "We thought that would be a fun reminder of Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach's history to harken back to the time when we had UFOs. It's a whimsical fun spin on things."
Back in 1987, a Gulf Breeze resident took photos of what he said was a UFO from his yard, although many today believed it was a hoax.
Following the sightings, Nicholson said he worked at a hotel that hosted UFO and paranormal activity conventions on Pensacola Beach in the early 1990s. The top attraction for convention-goers was to take photos with the nearby spaceship-shaped house.
Nicholson said he believed the mini-gulf course is a good addition to Pensacola Beach, that's not playing in the sand or water.
"What mini-golf does, it brings people together in a fun environment. What we've found is when they have that fun together as a group, it creates a peak experience that they remember and want to come back to," Nicholson said. "You can only sit on the beach for so long before you have to go do something else."
During the coronavirus pandemic, Nicholson said UFO's has a number of safety steps, including frequently sanitizing all the surfaces in the arcade. He said employees wear masks and try to social distance as well.
"Every day we have an overall sanitation practice at the end of the day. After we have shut down the business, we go by and once again sanitize all the surfaces and let the building rest overnight for folks to come back to the next day," Nicholson said.
The course is opened from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Adult tickets are $13, with children and military pricing at $10, and children under 4 are free.
Madison Arnold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 850-435-8522.
This story originally published to pnj.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.