1. Ghirardelli: Without hesitation, Ghirardelli makes it to the top of our list for the quality of its ice cream and its variety of options. Located in the center of the Marketplace section of Downtown Disney, this venue entices guests with free samples of chocolate and the smell of cooking waffle cones wafting through the air. Although more often crowded than not, Ghirardelli provides guests with a quintessential ice cream parlor experience complete with sundae cups and extra- long spoons. Sundaes, shakes, and floats are all available here as well as a selection of baked goods like cookies and brownies. Items are available to go or guests may choose to be seated and have their ice cream creation delivered to them. We prefer the latter as it provides a break from the heat and shopping and prevents us from wearing our sundaes. If you are feeling adventurous, try The Earthquake, a gargantuan sundae that includes eight scoops or ice cream, eight toppings, and more.
2. Beaches and Cream: Located at the Beach Club Resort on the covered walkway that formers the northern border of the Stormalong Bay pool complex, this fifties-style eatery and ice cream parlor is a step back in time. Guests can be served by wait staff at tables inside the restaurant or may choose to purchase to-go ice cream creations at a separate walk up counter. Many sunbathers and swimmers avail of this second option. Beaches and Cream also serves hearty comfort food like hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, and salads, but the ice cream is the real draw for most. Not to be outdone by Ghirardelli’s Earthquake sundae, B and C offers The Kitchen Sink, another mammoth sundae with eight scoops of ice cream ,various toppings, and a whole can of whipped cream. Be ready for some special attention when you order this whopper and dig in before the ice cream melts into a soupy mess. Staff members here are friendly and keep this busy place efficient.
3. Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream: For us, no trip to WDW would be complete without sharing (or not) one of these ice cream treats. Rich vanilla ice cream covered in luscious chocolate in the shape of Mickey’s iconic silhouette make this a must have! Available from many vendor carts and several counter service restaurants, this cool snack refreshes and provides a nice burst of energy on hot days. Create your own ritual about how to eat it. Ears first? Left or right? Be sure to catch the large sections of chocolate coating which may break off, you would not want to miss a morsel.
4. L’Artisan des Glaces: A recent addition to the France pavilion in Epcot, L’Artisan des Glaces serves up wonderful ice creams and sorbets with plenty of indoor seating. The real stars of this show are the Ice Cream Martini and the Croque Glace, two unique and distinctly French creations that are luxuriously decadent. The Ice Cream Martini features two scoops of ice cream, a shot of Grand Marnier, whipped cream, and rum or vodka. This provides plenty to share and is a decidedly adult indulgence. The Croque Glace is L’Artisan’s answer to an ice cream sandwich. Ice cream or sorbet is sealed inside warm brioche bread to make for an extra sweet send up of the traditional ice cream sandwich. Guests who are purists and select unadulterated ice cream should not miss the Pistachio, Caramel Fleur de Sel, or Coconut White Chocolate flavors. Each is to die for!
5. Seashore Sweets: Tucked in between Kouzzina (soon to be a new dining venue) and the Flying Fish restaurants at the Boardwalk Resort, Seashore Sweets draws young and old alike in for candies, salt water taffy, and ice cream. The store and parlor itself pay homage to the Miss America pageants of yester year which were brought to the Atlantic seashore to drum up business as early as 1920. Take a few moments to enjoy the artifacts and photos displayed. We steer away from the cloying sweet candies and head for the ice cream counter. Although not outrageously inventive with its flavor offerings, Seashore Sweets offers both hand scooped and soft serve ice cream with a variety of toppings. A visit here makes an afternoon on the Boardwalk feel complete.
6. Plaza Ice Cream Parlor: Located at the extreme end of the east of the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, this now venerable establishment satisfies the thousands of guests who enter its doors daily. A limited but worthwhile menu makes this a comforting stop. We love the homemade ice cream sandwich which consists of two huge freshly baked cookies glued together with a generous helping of the ice cream flavor of your choice. We also love the raspberry sorbet when it is available. Two scoops can easily cool down two weary park goers. Although Starbuck’s is a welcome addition to WDW, replacing Disney’s rather lack luster coffee of yore, the Seattle coffee company has taken over what little indoor seating the ice cream parlor had! We are told that Disney is fast at work on a solution and that outdoor seating adjacent to the parlor should soon mirror the outdoor seating across the street at Casey’s.
7. Gelato at the Landscape of Flavors: The gelato counter at the Art of Animation Resort’s Landscape of Flavors food court has become a food destination for us. Flavors do change seasonally but many familiar favorites are always available. This is, hands down, some of the best gelato we have ever tasted. (We make our own and have been to Italy.) Flavors like Pumpkin, Dulce de Leche, Coconut, and Pistachio have been our favorites. The rich chocolate never fails us either.
8. The Fountain: The Fountain is appropriately subtitled “Sweet Treats” and serves as one of the Dolphin Resort’s casual dining venues. A walk up counter serves a wide selection of ice cream creations in a lively, fun setting. Located on the first floor of the Dolphin’s lobby and once known by the unfortunate name Tubbi’s, The Fountain serves floats, inventive shakes, sundaes, hand scooped ice cream, and soft serve selections. All are available in cups or cones and can be enhanced with a seemingly endless selection of toppings. Seasonal selections like cheesecakes and pies are also on hand. Spend a lazy afternoon touring the Swan and Dolphin Resorts and reward yourselves with a stop at The Fountain.
9. Captain Cook’s Snack Company: Granted, this location is not technically an ice cream strong hold, but it is home to the only Dole Whip soft serve outside of the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. Located on the first floor of the Polynesian Resort toward the Nanea Volcano feature pool, this counter service restaurant warrants a visit if only for the Dole Whip. For the uninitiated, a Dole Whip is a soft serve vanilla ice cream and pineapple concoction that is the stuff of dreams. We are of the opinion that the only thing that could improve it is a generous shot of Meyer’s 151 or Captain Morgan. This treat is so popular that a cast member is assigned to the self-serve dispenser to fill Dole Whip cups for guests. For those who have never tried it, do so soon. One bite will explain “what all the fuss is about.”
10. Kabuki Café: This quick service venue rests in the shadow of the pagoda in Epcot’s Japan pavilion. Although the Café does not serve ice cream, it is home to kakigori, or shaved ice topped with syrups. Generous portions make it easy to share and flavors like tangerine, melon, and cherry are subtle, not overly sweet, and refreshing. The tangerine was a revelation for us. We never miss the chance to enjoy one of these cooling snacks when visiting WDW.