One genre of food Disney should get right — and, for the most part, does — is ice cream. But not all ice cream carts and novelty desserts are created equal. Here's a primer to the frozen treats you'll find at Disney World.
When it's 96 degrees with 90 percent humidity, a vanilla soft serve cone with rainbow sprinkles or an iconic Mickey Bar is all one needs and desires. Fortunately, ice cream carts and soft serve vendors litter all four Disney parks.
For hard, hand-scooped ice cream, many of the vendors sell Edy's or Haagen Daaz. Homemade ice cream can be found in the World Showcase in Epcot (France, Italy) and in certain upscale restaurants (Trattoria all Forno, Flying Fish Cafe, Citricos).
Vivoli il Gelato, a venerable 80 year-old gelato shop from Florence, opened its only storefront outside of Italy in Downtown Disney. Go there.
Cult favorites not to miss: Dole Whip and the Citrus Swirl, both available the Magic Kingdom.
Outside of the Magic Kingdom, boozy ice cream options (Dole Whip with dark rum, for one) abound and efficiently satisfy multiple needs.
Single best ice cream object we had:
The mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwich at Plaza Ice Cream Parlour in the Magic Kingdom. Plaza bakes its cookies every day and achieves what many of the best ice cream shops around the country fail at: its cookies are large, flat, delicious, and perfectly pliable. They are soft enough not to break or crack when bitten into but sturdy enough to stand up to two giant scoopfuls of melting ice cream. The ice cream on offer is typical Edy's but here you can customize your flavor.
the ginger caramel ice cream at the Joy of Tea in the China pavilion in Epcot
the caramel fleur de sel ice cream at L’Artisan des Glaces in the France pavilion in Epcot
sundaes at Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop in Downtown Disney
gelato at Italy's Tutto Italia Snack Stand
the peanut butter and jelly milkshake at 50's Prime Time Cafe
sundaes at the retro Beaches & Cream Soda Shop on the Boardwalk
Novelty Dishes to Know:
Croque Glace: a grilled fresh brioche ice cream (and sauce) sandwich, available at Les Glaces in the France pavilion in Epcot
Croissant donut: Disney's version of the notorious cronut is a satisfying if not sublime approximation of the original. And here you can top it with soft serve. Available at the Refreshment Port in Epcot's World Showcase.
Dole Whip float: The iconic pineapple soft serve in a cup full of pineapple juice. Mindbendingly refreshing. Available at Aloha Isle in The Magic Kingdom.
Dole Whip with rum: Like the Dole Whip float, but rum instead of pineapple juice. So, yes. Available at Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom.
Kitchen Sink sundae: it's one of those test-of-will dishes, an eight scoop sundae covered in all the toppings the soda shop has, designed to be split by four people, for $32. Available at the retro/Atlantic City themed Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.