Ah, ice cream. The treat that never gets old despite having eaten it a million times in a million different ways. You can find it all over Walt Disney World Resort including the parks, resort hotels, Disney Springs, and The BoardWalk to name a few. Suffice to say it’s not a hard treat to find. With so many options available to you the question then becomes, what is the best ice cream shop at Disney World?
With so many ways to serve up ice cream including cups, cones, sundaes, sticks, sandwiches and fried, naturally, there are going to be many opinions on which is the best. Our look on ice cream (for the purpose of this article) is going to be several things including location, variety and overall yumminess which is the most important. We understand we don’t speak for everyone out there but our methods are coming from many years of watching and taste testing. Trial and error which, in this case, is a win-win for us and you.
When we talk about location of the ice cream shop were considering things like its overall accessibility to a guest, how far a guest would have to travel to get to it from general areas and if it’s an area that tends to be full of guests or not due to other shops and activities. Obviously when you think of Disney World you just assume there’s going to be a crowd or a line for it. Sometimes this is true and other times it’s not. There are several places that we’ve listed below that are peaceful and relaxing compared to others that are crazy, loud and packed full of guests.
Variety is important to us because it allows us to try new things at a place that we love. While we may be attracted to one particular flavor because we tried and loved it, it’s always nice to have the opportunity to branch out and try something new. While we do rank some places that only serve one kind of ice cream, there are many that offer much more than just a scoop or cone of vanilla. And no, we’re not dishing on vanilla! It’s one of our favorite flavors!
Lastly, the overall yumminess of the ice cream represents several things including texture and taste. It may seem hard to mess up ice cream but we beg to differ. Have you ever had freezer burned ice cream or ice cream served with the little ice chunks in it? Bleh! We want something creamy and smooth as we imagine most guests want. And really the most important thing is, is it something we would come back for again and again? Everyone likes to have their “go-to” place and we’re not any different. Luckily there are several places like this throughout the resort which makes finding your favorite ice cream much easier.
One thing that we do want to point out is that we’re only going to be ranking places that serve ice cream as their main dish. We won’t be including restaurants that serve a lava cake with ice cream. You can find those types of dishes in our Top Desserts at Walt Disney World guide which is also an excellent read. We’ll just be focusing on the main goal which is to rank soley, ice cream in all its glorious forms.
So without further ado, here’s 2021’s Best Disney World Ice Cream Shops:
BEST DISNEY WORLD ICE CREAM SHOPS
10. HOLLYWOOD SCOOPS – Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this place is perfect for grabbing some classic ice cream dishes on a hot day. Although it may sound like a very standard ice cream shop, the thing that we love about this place the most is that they are constantly rotating in new flavors. Now that can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. Sometime you’ll try a flavor and love it but it may not be there when you go back the next time. On the flip side there’s always a chance you’ll love one of the new ones more!
Currently they are offering a Peppermint Bundt Cake Shake which was actually pretty good. It comes with Peppermint Ice Cream, Two Bundt Cakes, Peppermint Bark and Whipped Cream. They usually always have a Brownie Sundae which comes with a chocolate brownie, Old-fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream. If we want ice cream but it’s a bit colder outside we always go with that. You can also get regular scoops of ice cream here including Chocolate, Vanilla and Orange Sherbet to name a few.
This location can get busy on hot days and around lunch and dinner. A typical line is going to have 3-4 guests but during those other times there can be 10+. Hollywood Scoops is very accessible in the park being located on Sunset Boulevard.
9. PLAZA ICE CREAM PARLOR – It’s a classic to so many people because it’s been there since the beginning. Plaza Ice Cream opened in 1971 as Borden’s Ice Cream but eventually changed to Plaza. So we understand there are a lot of guests out there who love this place. It’s very nostalgic to get some ice cream here and eat it out on Main Street U.S.A. It’s almost like a rite of passage. Outside of this experience though it’s a pretty standard shop.
As far as selections go they do have a lot. You can get anything from an Ice Cream Cone to an Ice Cream Sundae. In between there are Cookie Sandwiches and Brownie Sundaes. The most popular of them all is The Plaza Ice Cream Sundae wich has Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream, Two Hand-scoops of Ice Cream and a Cherry all served in a freshly-made waffle bowl. They are a decent size and can be shared with 1 other. The other creation we recommend is the Double-scooped Ice Cream Cone which is the classic eat on Main Street set-up.
Of course you can grab a single serving of any flavor they currently have which are the more common ones like chocolate, vanilla, mint cookie-chip, and cookie ‘n cream. The Plaza is located right on Main Street more towards the castle than the entrance. It’s accessible and typically has a line of about 8 guests or so. During the rush hours it will have 15+ so be sure to mobile order if you can.
8. GELATI – Who doesn’t like to wander off the beaten path and try a different type of ice cream? The Italy Pavilion is home to a cart that offers something unique like this: Gelato! It’s a nice change when you get tired of all the toppings and hard scoops. Based in Italy, this delicious “ice cream” is milk-based and has around 70% less air than most ice creams. It’s very flavorful and smooth.
You can get the Gelato in a cup or cone or even a sandwich if you want to try something different. You can also get what are called Coppa’s which are kind of like sundaes. They have the gelato along with topping sauce and cookies or fruit. They are really good! Gelati is a smaller stand in Italy and typically doesn’t have a major line. It’s most accessible from World Showcase.
7. ALOHA ISLE – If someone ever talks about a frozen treat from Disney World, there’s a 9/10 chance they are talking about a DOLE Whip. Aloha Isle is the home of this infamous DOLE Whip and, like the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, is sort of a rite of passage for guests. Everyone will tell you to go here (or a few other places) to try one. If you want to go to the “source”, it’s got to be Aloha Isle in Adventureland.
The DOLE Whip has been a staple for park goers for years and continues to be a guest favorite. It’s essentially a pineapple ice cream that’s very flavorful and smooth. You can get it several different ways including by itself, mixed with vanilla ice cream or in a float with pineapple juice. Most people prefer the latter. In recent years the menu has been expanded to include several new creations and flavors including a Raspberry Swirl Float and a Kakamora Float that has Coconut Soft-serve, Pineapple Juice and Blue Curaçao.
Because DOLE Whips are very popular this stand tends to be busy. You should mobile order if you can to help skip the lines. On hot summer days this place is bumpin’ so choose your times wisely. The best is early morning before anyone else is even thinking of getting one.
6. PINEAPPLE LANAI – This comes in right behind Aloha Isle mostly because they are very similar. They are both based around the DOLE Whip which is awesome. Pineapple Lanai however is not located in any park. It can be found at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort where guests can get their treats in peace. And by peace we mean it’s less busy than Magic Kingdom. While it is a lot smaller in size, the menu it not. You can find some fantastic creations here.
Look for the DOLE Whip being served in a cup or Tiki Bowl. You’ll also find floats in cups or souvenir sippers. There are alcoholic options that include DOLE Whip with a Coconut Rum. Because of its location, most guests will never visit this place unless they are staying at the resort. You can go visit it without being a guest however, so if you’re willing, jump on a bus and head over to the Polynesian Resort!
5. GHIRARDELLI SODA FOUNTAIN – This use to rank better than #5 for many years. We still really, really love the ice cream here. But lately they have been raising their prices to outrageous figures and we can’t quite muster up the strength to pull our wallets out. It’s sad. We get it. We’re at Disney. But $14 for a sundae is insane. That’s $30 for 2 sundaes. For our family of 4 that’s around $55 assuming someone gets a $10 creation. We’re shaking our heads.
If you haven’t ever been, you should go. Put the pricing aside and go in and try their famous sundae. It comes with two scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream, Nuts and a Cherry. As much as that sounds like a regular old sundae, all of those thing are premium-level from the ice cream to the cherry. It’s the best of the best. And that’s what we love about Ghirardelli the most.
While we love their traditional sundae, even more so we love their shakes. They have several to choose from but we like to create our own. You get to choose the base which would be chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. Then you choose 3 of their famous chocolate squares for them to blend with the ice cream. It’s topped with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips. So good!
The Soda Fountain is located on the west end of Disney Springs so most of the time it’s an evening treat for anyone who’s visiting the parks. On busy nights they do start a virtual queue so you’ll want to get there and scan in to join. Sometimes the wait is 30 minutes and sometimes its 10. The later in the evening it gets the busier.
4. SUNSHINE TREE TERRACE – Magic Kingdom is on a roll with no shortage of ice cream places! This place, like the Plaza, has been a staple of the park since its opening in 1971. It’s located in Adventureland and serves up some really good treats including the orange vanilla swirl that we love. Many of you may recognize the mascot of this joint as Orange Bird. We always get a laugh out of his name as it simply describes what he is. Orange Bird was actually the mascot of the Florida Citrus Commission who sponsored The Enchanted Tiki Room and Sunshine Tree Terrace. In fact, he used to walk around Adventureland back in the 70’s. He’s quite the character!
You can grab some soft-serve ice cream here in flavors of vanilla, orange or swirl. You can also get any of those flavors in a float with your choice of soda. We recommend the vanilla soft-serve with Orange Fanta. It’s our favorite combination. They also do run specials which currently is the I Lava You Float that comes with Orange DOLE Whip, Fanta Strawberry and Red Passion Fruit Syrup sprinkled with Popping Candy. Talk about intense!
Sunshine Tree Terrace has become very popular over the last several years as Disney has brought back the Orange Bird character. This place typically has a line 4-5 guests but up to 15+ during the rush hour.
3. BEACHES & CREAM SODA SHOP – The DOLE Whip may be the most Instagramed Ice Cream coming out of Disney World but the most legendary is The Kitchen Sink. We’ll get to this in a minute. First, if you’re not familiar with Beaches & Cream, it’s located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort in the Epcot area and is probably one of the most popular places. Reservations here book up fast and for good reason. If you find yourself looking at a menu (which you should), you may think to yourself, didn’t they say they would only rank ice cream-only shops? It’s a valid question. We’re happy to say that this place was and always will be an ice cream place first and a food place third. There is no second.
They have shakes, they have malts, they have sundaes, ice cream sodas, cones, cups and everything between. Their menu for desserts is extensive. The one that everyone talks about though is called The Kitchen Sink. This baby serves 4 people but really 6. It comes with 5 scoops of ice cream topped with every topping they offer including pineapple, cookies, hot fudge, caramel, cherries, peanut butter, brownie, sprinkles and so much more. It’s…ridiculous to say the least but people come from all over to try it. It’s actually a really fun experience, especially with kids.
If you need something more tame we like the Banana Split or the Snickers Sundae which is Vanilla Ice Cream smothered in Hot Fudge, Marshmallow and Snickers Pieces. Beaches & Cream is not that accessible to park goers except those at Epcot and anyone staying at Yacht or Beach Club. Make reservations in advance. If you don’t, you can always use their quick service line that offers shakes, scoops and some sundaes.
2. ANANDAPUR ICE CREAM TRUCK – Animal Kingdom is probably the hottest Disney park of the 4. So when it’s a hot day, AK is even hotter. When you get the craving to cool down be sure to head to Asia where you’ll find this quaint little truck that serves up the best soft-serve ice cream anywhere. We fell in love with this place years ago. It’s so simple and yet it’s the best.
They offer only 2 flavors with 3 options: Vanilla, Chocolate and Swirl. You can get it in a cup or cone, we recommend the latter. They are a decent size but should not be shared with others as you’ll be full of regret. Just enjoy the smooth, flavor-filled ice cream that it is.
Be sure to beat the lunch crowd which starts around 11:30 am. You can’t mobile order here so you’ll just have to stand in line like the old days. We typically see 2-3 guests in line during the slow but up to 10 during the busy.
1. L’ARTISAN DES GLACES – Ahh, my France 🇫🇷 . We love you for so many reasons but mostly because of your somewhat hidden ice cream shop in the back alley of your pavilion. While it may not be a secret, L’Artian is kind of a gem for Epcot goers and Annual Passholders. It’s the classic one or two scoop shop but then it’s so much more than that. It can seduce any sweet tooth with its French artisanal ice creams.
Choosing one or two scoops it easy (always two) but choosing the flavor is so much harder. Like Hollywood Scoops mentioned above, this place is always changing out their flavors for new ones. And while they do always have vanilla and chocolate, you’ll also find unique flavors like Caramel Fleur de Sel, Cinnamon Caramelized Pecan, Apple Crumble, Coco-white Chocolate and Milk Chocolate and Orange. Our favorite right now is the Coco-white Chocolate which is extremely smooth, creamy and full of flavor.
You can also get Macaroons, Sorbet and Gelato here. Clearly we love this place and think everyone should stop by and try it. It is sort of hidden in France. Walk to the right of Le Chefs Du France and then take your first left where Monsieur Paul is. You’ll see a little ramp going up into a shop and that’s where it is. We have a feeling this place it going to get popular once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens!
1. DINO-BITE SNACKS – Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park inside DINO-LAND U.S.A. This smaller treat shack offers some pretty common ice cream treats including an Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich, Old-fashioned Hot Fudge Sundae and scooped ice cream in a waffle cone. It’s very accessible inside the park and tends to have a line of around 2-3 guest on average. Around lunch time will be busier than this.
2. TAMU TAMU REFRESHMENTS – Also located inside Animal Kingdom park this refreshment stand is Africa’s best treat. They offer snacks that include DOLE Whip Pineapple Float and Cup, a Warm Brownie Sundae and our favorite, the Simba Sunset that includes DOLE Whip Pineapple ice cream with Watermelon, Strawberry and Coconut. It’s a super yummy treat! Tamu Tamu is readily accessible on the corner of Africa and typically has a line of about 5-6 guests.
3. I.C. EXPEDITIONS – It’s “out of the way” for most park attendees as it’s located at Blizzard Beach Water Park but for those who are there during the hot summertime and need a nice cool-down treat, this is the place. The craziest treat they offer is called the Sand Pail and it consists of Chocolate and Vanilla soft-serve, waffle pieces, sprinkles, cookie pieces, hot fudge, caramel and whipped cream. Yikes. If you’re looking for something less intense try the Strawberry Shortcake Sundae. They also offer several other sundaes like Hot Fudge, Caramel, and Strawberry. The line for I.C. Expeditions is typically 5-6 people.
4. HÄÄGEN-DAZS KIOSK – We all know the name. It’s a standard, world-famous ice cream company and they happen to have a stand dedicated to it at Disney Springs. You can find Ice Cream Sundaes, Shakes and Ice Cream Sandwiches. You can also get Chocolate-dipped cones with your choice of ice cream. We think this place is great if we’re not willing to spend the big bucks at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain which we prefer more. During the day time this place isn’t too busy but during the evening and summertime it can get longer lines of 10+.
5. AMPLE HILLS CREAMERY – Technically this place does not exist anymore. It used to be located at The BoardWalk and hadn’t been open for very long (around 2015) before it closed down. COVID is to blame as the company went bankrupt when most of their stores (located in NY) closed down. Thus the Disney World location closed which we think is very sad. It wasn’t our favorite place to go for ice cream but it was solid for unique flavors and some great shakes. This one goes out to you Ample Hills!
6. STORYBOOK TREATS – This always almost makes our list but never does. It’s a good place to try out inside Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Every so often they come out with an interesting creation and everyone finds it Instagram-worthy, but they don’t always taste that good. It’s like they went for more aesthetics than flavor which bums us out. You can find the basic Soft-serve Cup, Strawberry and Hot Fudge Sundae and the current Insta-good Peter Pan Float which is DOLE Whip Lime Soft-serve, Sprite and a Chocolate Feather. This place can get busy and typically has a line of about 6-8 guests, more during lunch and dinner.
So there you have it! Disney World’s best ice cream shops for you to enjoy. It may take you a couple of trips to get to all of them but it will happen. We’ve had a lot of fun working our way around the resort to try all of them out and are looking forward to any new additions that may be coming (were looking at you Salt and Straw)!
Are you planning a trip to Disney World and need some more pointers? We have lots of guides and tips to share with you to make your trip more memorable and fun. Start with our Walt Disney World Planning Guide which gives you a good overview of what to expect from the resort this year and how to prepare. Next check out our Hotel Review and Rankings Guide which will help you pick out the best hotel of your needs including location and room type. Then be sure to read our guide on Discounted Disney World Tickets which can help you save up to $70 per ticket! Lastly, be sure to read our What To Pack for Disney post which can help you decide what to bring and how to prepare for the Orlando weather.
Are you an avid park goer who loves ice cream? Are there places at the resort that we forgot to list? We want to hear from you! While our list is big, it doesn’t mean there’s not room for one or two more. Be sure to leave a comment or send us a message with your suggestions. If we find it relevant we’ll be sure to add it to our post.
Dean has been writing and blogging for over 10 years. He specializes in Disney theme park news including updates, openings, special events and general advice for travelers. He doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad and the ugly. His previous work includes being a Cast Member at Disneyland and working as a travel agent.