Most Disney fans have a favorite sweet treat when they hit the parks, and those of us who actively use social media love to share our enthusiasm for these desserts. Some of these have even achieved cult status among Disney fans or have entire websites devoted to them. But when it comes right down to it, how good are these treats compared to their counterparts in the real world? Does a Dole Whip really trump a Pinkberry? Would you buy Mickey Crisped Rice Treats if they weren’t shaped like mouse ears? And who can actually get through an entire “Buy 4, Get 2 free” box of fudge?
The desserts on this list aren’t terrible—they just inspire WAY more rave reviews than they deserve.
#10: Fudge – I think maybe the sheer variety of flavors is what makes Disney fudge seem like it’s really good. Cookies & Cream, Butterfinger, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Candy Cane, Celebration Cake, Reese’s Pieces, Rocky Road? Yes, please! However the texture of the fudge falls somewhere between dry and mealy, and the fake, chemically aftertaste doesn’t help. To be fair, most commercially made fudge has these problems, and I’ve yet to buy fudge anywhere that tastes as good as homemade.
#9: School Bread – I’ve tried to like the school bread at Kringla Bakeri Og Café, I really have. But I can get a tough doughnut filled with bland custard and covered in waxy coconut flakes at my local Dunkin’ Donuts.
#8: Chocolate Moose – I get it. It’s chocolate mousse shaped like a moose with its tongue sticking out. But this kids’ menu staple at Le Cellier has very little flavor—from the mousse or the cookie crumbs it’s rolled in.
#7: Babycakes NYC Cookie Sandwich – This item is a relative newcomer, but already it’s inspired lots of online ardor. Who doesn’t like the sound of two chocolate chip cookies sandwiching a huge scoop of frosting? Unfortunately, Babycakes NYC’s vegan baking practices render this treat nearly inedible: The cookies are tooth-shatteringly hard and weirdly sticky, while the frosting has the consistency of whipped Crisco and almost no flavor.
#6: Most things at the Karamell-Küche – Another relative newcomer to the Disney dessert scene, the Germany Pavilion’s Karamell-Küche is a wonderland of sweet treats that I really want to love. But, as with so many Disney desserts, the taste of these items never lives up to their descriptions. Caramel popcorn? Chewy and stale. Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch Cookie? Dry and crumbly, with the merest suggestion of peanut butter flavor. Caramel Cupcake? Gritty frosting on dry cake, topped with strands of caramel so sticky you might loose a tooth. (I should probably note my pet conspiracy theory that all of Disney’s candy varieties skew heavily toward caramel because it’s cheaper to produce than fruit and chocolate fillings—and now there’s a whole shop of the stuff!)
#5: Cinderella Slipper Dessert – This is another treat that gets its cachet from its shape. When it comes right down to it, the Cinderella Slipper Dessert offered at Cinderella’s Royal Table, the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary is just waxy white or milk chocolate in an enchanting form, filled with mediocre mousse and topped with a few berries. That’ll be $15, please!
#4: Starring Rolls’ Cupcakes – Let’s be clear: I am not a cupcake snob (I’ll even eat supermarket cupcakes!) and I don’t know the meaning of the phrase “too sweet.” But I am continually let down by the cupcakes at Starring Rolls. As with Disney fudge, I think part of their popularity lies in the variety of over-the-top-sounding flavor combinations: Chocolate Butterfinger, Red Velvet Cheesecake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Marble. But if you can actually get your mouth around one of these babies, the problems start with the dry, flavorless cake and extend to the mile-high pile of greasy frosting on top. Many are filled with a baseball-sized glob of something that resembles cold Smucker’s fudge topping. It’s not awful, but when they mix it with something else—like my beloved peanut butter—the two flavors seem to cancel each other out.
#3: Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor – I love the atmosphere of the charming, old-fashioned ice cream parlor on Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. But I never actually order anything here because all they serve is a few flavors of the same boring Dreyer’s ice cream I can buy at the supermarket. Granted, the ice cream parlors at Walt Disney World serve Dreyer’s/Edy’s too. But Beaches & Cream makes up for it with their sundaes’ wacky names and fun flavor combinations, while the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain covers a multitude of Edy’s sins with plenty of delicious Ghirardelli hot fudge. (Plus the chocolate ice cream there is actually made by Ghirardelli!)
#2: Mickey Crisped Rice Treats – Mickey Crisped Rice Treats (a.k.a. Mickey Crispies) are right up there with Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars as an edible icon of the Disney parks. But if you’ve ever had a homemade Rice Krispies Treat, Disney’s can’t compare—no matter how adorable the shape. Dry and dense where they should be gooey and yielding, Mickey Crispies also have an off-putting chemical aftertaste that can’t be masked by the low-grade chocolate coating on the ears.
#1: Disney Wedding Cake – One of the things we Disney brides most like to rave about is our wedding cakes. Maybe this is because so many of us have memories of the dry wedding cake of yesteryear (and surely the wonderful memories of the wedding day play a part too). But just because Disney’s cakes are moist doesn’t mean they’re flavorful. In the years since my wedding, I have ordered numerous special-occasion cakes at Walt Disney World, trying to figure out what the fuss is about. I have yet to taste one that is as good as anything at my local independent bakeries. I’ve tried red velvet, chocolate, marble, and vanilla, and once I even had them add chocolate chips to the chocolate cake to make it more chocolatey. But the flavors all pretty much tasted the same. The mousse fillings are similarly bland, with an almost cream cheese-like texture. When it comes to frosting, there seem to be two types of people: those who like whipped cream frosting and consider it possible for cake to be too sweet, and those who go for buttercream in all its sugary, lardy glory. Disney’s buttercream is the high-class variety reminiscent of whipped unsalted butter, not the thick, rich, sweet kind I adore, so whether you’ll like it depends on which camp you fall into.
So which Disney desserts do I like? I definitely think Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bars live up to the hype. I avoided them for years, thinking they’d have that thin, artificially flavored chocolate coating you find on novelties like Choco Tacos and the sort of cheap, icy vanilla ice cream that comes in plastic cups with wooden spoons. But when I finally got one for free at a special event, I fell in love with the rich, creamy ice cream and its equally rich and creamy chocolate coating. My other favorite Disney desserts are the brownie sandwich at Earl of Sandwich and, as you probably guessed, Ghirardelli sundaes. And if I liked pineapple, I’d probably dig Dole Whips too!
Now, what do you think are the most overrated Disney desserts?
Big thanks to Carrie Hayward for writing this great article! Carrie is the author of PassPorter’s Disney Weddings & Honeymoons and a fan of SusieCakes, See’s Candies and Ben & Jerry’s (just so you know where she’s coming from). You can follow her adventures in the Disney parks at Disney Travel Babble and @Lurkyloo on Twitter.