Disney Soft Serve vs. Hand-Scooped Ice Cream
I, like everyone, go through phases with most things in life. If I’ve played an album on repeat for 2 weeks straight, I know to continue pressing play until another genre calls to me, because I won’t crave anything except whatever my current obsession is. I go on benders with clothes, too. For example, I wore flip flops exclusively for an entire summer, despite the weather, just because I loved the way they felt. Today, I would have to shuffle my iPod and search through my shoe rack to find what fits my mood. Like, I said…phases.
“She’ll grow out of it, it’s a phase” they said when I chose ice cream over a birthday cake as a child. They referred to it as my “ice cream phase” when I hit up the local scoop shop 5 nights/week and 2 nights/weekend one summer (yes I realize that is every day!).
On midnight on my 21st birthday, my friends and I threw back shots of creamy and delicious ice cream in lieu of the more traditional alcohol; a phase my friends swore was just one of novelty. Here I stand to tell you one fact I’ve come to terms with: my love of ice cream is not, nor was it ever, a phase.
The most basic debate in the ice cream world is not so much focused around flavor as it is texture. When I refer to ice cream, I’m always talking about the hand-scooped variety, aka REAL ice cream. Travel to Walt Disney World, though, and you’re bound to come face to face with this temptation: happy guests hungrily licking drippy soft serve cones in the heat. Now, the real question comes up: should you opt for Disney hand scooped or Disney soft serve ice cream? With so many options to explore, let’s not waste any more time!
Disney Soft Serve
I’m a hard ice cream kind of girl. Soft serve doesn’t appeal to me in the same way a freshly scooped cone does. It took a friend of mine with a severe airborne allergy to open my eyes to the world that is soft serve. Since we wanted to share some treats on our trip, and scoopers with cross contamination present too much of a risk for her to order hard serve, I had no choice but to back away and let her do the ordering for this vacation.
- Anandapur Ice Cream Truck- An abandoned truck has been repurposed and repainted by a business-savvy resident of Anandapur who is selling soft serve ice cream straight from the vehicle! My friend ordered us each a waffle cone filled to the brim with vanilla and chocolate twists of soft serve. Although the exceptionally soft consistency of this particular ice cream made us hasten our eating, the sturdy crunch from the waffle cone made for a stellar combo!
- Oasis Canteen- Whenever I’m in Hollywood Studios and am in the mood for ice cream, I always head to that little scoop shop that sits at the end of Sunset Boulevard. Since I didn’t want my friend to spiral into an allergic fit, I agreed to share a float with her from Oasis Canteen. When she came back with a Dreamsicle Float consisting of soft serve vanilla, orange soda, and a splash of vodka, I decided I had to give soft serve a chance…it was tasty!
- Storybook Treats– When we visited Magic Kingdom, we spent the day furiously hopping from land to land in an attempt to squeeze every penny out of our admission tickets. She wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down on her quest to tour the entire Kingdom, so when she came to an abrupt stop in Fantasyland, I feared I had pushed her too hard.On the contrary, she was just keeping with our pact to experience as much as we could in MK, and before I realized what was happening she was coming back with a strawberry sundae in her hands and a huge smile on her face. I’ll tell you this: childhood memories come rushing back one at a time with every spoonful of this ice cream/strawberry topping classic. I will also tell you that it comes with my friends’ recommendation!
Aloha Isle- It’s soft serve in it’s purest, most famous definition: the Dole Whip. Allergy or ice cream texture preferences aside, I will go all-in on a Dole whip any day of the week! If you’ve had one, you know why. If you haven’t, get yourself to Magic Kingdom stat! The frozen, creamy pineapple soft serve is the consistency and texture of a soft ice cream while the flavor can’t be compared. I would venture to say it’s the most refreshing treat across Resort property, and there isn’t a trip that passes by without me getting at least one!
I only visited Walt Disney World with this friend one time, and if I weren’t with her, I can honestly say I would have stuck with my usual hand-scooped ice cream treats and never once tried any of the soft serve treats she picked up for us- I’ll take it as a lesson to be more open-minded in the future. Although those soft serve treats were tasty and I would never refuse a single one of them…we’re entering my territory now!
- Beaches and Cream Soda Shop– You don’t need a reservation to order ice cream from the take out window here, and know this because I frequent the window more often than the Cast Members whenever I visit Walt Disney World! Featuring an impressive lineup of sundae and cone options, my favorite on the menu is the Fudge Mud Slide. It comes with brownies, 3 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, a cherry, and Oreos! As if that wasn’t enough to win you over, it’s also Mickey’s sundae of choice- he recommends sharing!
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor- At the very end of Main Street USA sits a pristine turn-of-the-century ice cream shop serving perfectly rounded scoops of your preferred flavor ice cream on house made waffle cones. Sold? Sold.
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments- Animal Kingdom’s wild take on the classic hand-scoop ranks right up there with both the most fun and messiest snack to eat. A fresh scoop of ice cream is pressed between 2 chocolate cookies, and while the initial presentation is neat and tidy, one bite will send your ice cream onto the ground if you’re not careful! That’s not to say you shouldn’t order it! Just be sure to get a knife and fork to eat it with and thank me later.
- Ghirardelli Soda Fountain- My favorite of all, Ghirardelli! They’ve got the edge on the competition with that deliciously thick and rich house made hot fudge, and when it’s ladled over your scoop or sundae of choice, it’s impossible to feel any differently. Their brownie sundae features a home made brownie with Ghirardelli chocolate chips, 2 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream and is practically a meal in itself. Each spoonful is its own unique combo of the ingredients, and although I usually dive into the brownie first, the ice cream is truly the star of the show.
If I were you, fellow ice cream lovers, I would plan which of these treats you’re going to try ahead of your vacation. There are so many to choose from and once you arrive at the Resort, you’ll see just how many ice cream options there really are out there!
From classic Disney soft serve waffle cones to hand scooped sundaes, each and every one of the treats listed above have proven themselves worthy of this article and have beat out lots of qualified contenders to help you make your ice cream ordering a snap! Did your favorite ice cream make the list? If not, which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
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Special thanks to Maria Salerno for writing this article: Hiya pal! I am a NYC-based writer/musician thrilled to be bringing you all things Disney! I’m a WDW Annual Passholder, so you can find me in the parks regularly throughout the year. In addition to being a Disney Parks loving girl, I’m also a Disney toy and merchandise collector, a runDisney enthusiast, and Disney music and movie aficionado. You can follow me on Instagram: NYCtoAP and find me on YouTube: NYCtoAP. Thanks for reading, hope to see ya real soon!