Today we’re welcoming guest author Kent Walker with a cool review of the brand new Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop at Disney California Adventure. Read on for a delicious dose of ice cream and brownies!
Having been big fans of chocolate since before we could spell the word, my wife and I were very excited to find out that a Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop would be opening at Disney California Adventure. Not only would we be able to ride Radiator Springs Racers, we’d be able to do it with a belly full of ice cream, hot fudge, and brownie.
The Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop occupies the space that used to be the Mission Tortilla Factory, which was an original DCA attraction in 2001.
While we were sad to see the factory go (our sons especially loved the free corn and flour tortillas – including a whole bag on their birthday!), our depression was short-lived when we found out we could drown our sorrows in sea salt caramel hot cocoa!
Our family has been to San Francisco and visited the Ghirardelli Square shop, so we knew how good their chocolate, sundaes and chocolate drinks were. Other than the much larger selection of chocolate in San Francisco, the soda fountains are very similar.
Ghirardelli in DCA made the wise choice of having much wider aisles for easier stroller navigation and crowd control, and a Ghirardelli staffer hands out samples and menus out at the door. They even go the extra step and cut off the top of the foil package so it’s easier for you to get at your free chocolate treat. On the day we stopped by, it was a caramel filled milk chocolate piece.
Other than the wider aisles for crowds and strollers, the inside is very similar to other Ghirardelli Soda Fountains across the country. One nice touch, though, is a beautiful mural along the back wall paying tribute to Ghirardelli’s home, San Francisco, including their namesake Square.
They take your order just inside the door and you wait for your order at one of four stations, which does a good job of spreading the crowd out. You get hot drinks at the far end of the shop. There are quite a few tables outside for enjoying your treats, but nowhere inside to sit.
There are tons of things to choose from. You can get everything from your basic ice cream cones and shakes to decadent hot chocolate creations and their Intense Dark Sundaes, a couple of which feature a strongly bittersweet 86% cocoa content chocolate.
There are fourteen ice cream flavors to choose from and you can add any of the twelve toppings to customize your ice cream.
Of course, they have a wide selection of signature sundaes, including the eight scoop, eight topping “The Earthquake,” enough to feed a herd of stampeding Cars Land fanatics.
On our visit to the new shop, my wife, Jennifer, and I perused the menu while our sons Ty (6) and Ethan (4) enjoyed their free chocolates. Jennifer got the Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa, which she loved. It was rich and velvety and the touch of salt in the caramel sauce they added only intensified the wonderful chocolate flavor.
For me and the boys, it was the Warm Brownie Sundae. I’ve had it before with Mint Chip ice cream and it was amazing; but this time, Ty and Ethan wanted the normal vanilla ice cream for our two scoops.
Covered in a lava flow of dark chocolate hot fudge (you can choose milk chocolate hot fudge if you’d like) and topped with whipped cream, almonds and a cherry, you almost don’t need the brownie. But who are we kidding here, the brownie’s amazing.
Ghirardelli makes their brownies rich and chewy, like if a normal cake brownie and a luscious piece of fudge had a baby. The warm brownie works so well with the cold ice cream, and when you add a touch of the hot fudge, it’s a trio of wonderfulness. The one sundae was easily enough for the three of us and nobody got too full or didn’t have enough.
The pricing is very similar to any other Ghirardelli’s we’ve been to, so you won’t be paying the normal theme park premium for the privilege, which was nice. It’s not a cheap sundae, but it’s one of the best you’ve ever had. And the Sea Salt Hot Cocoa was about what you’d pay for a fancy espresso drink at your local Starbucks (which they now also have at DCA, but that’s a whole other review…).
If you’re a lover of chocolate and ice cream, you really can’t go wrong with a stop at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop. And for my money, Ghirardelli still makes the best chocolate shake in the world. (Their key is using their own chocolate ice cream, not the standard vanilla, and mixing in Ghirardelli chocolate sauce. It’s the most rich and decadent chocolate shake you’ll ever have).
All Disney needs to do now is add an In-N-Out at Disneyland and we’re moving in!
Kent Walker is a lifelong Disney fan from Colorado who grew up in Los Angeles and has visited Disneyland over fifty times. He converted his wife, Jennifer, into being a Disney fanatic, and she loves Disney maybe even more than he does now! His two children, Ty & Ethan, have been to Disneyland a dozen times already – and can’t wait for the next trip. He loves sharing his enthusiasm and knowledge of all things Disney with fellow Disney fans and anyone else who wants to catch the Disney bug. Kent shares his thoughts on music, movies, Disney & more in his blog In Case You Were Wondering.