Review: The Earthquake Sundae and More at Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop

Recently, I was in Disneyland for the Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival. And while I ate a lot of wonderful food and attended some delicious special events, I KNEW it was time for me to finally hit up Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop for some super sweets. And by super sweets, I mean SUPER BIG ICE CREAM!

Signs

Welcome to Ghirardelli!

See, I had heard that one of my all time favorite Ghirardelli treats — the Gold Rush Sundae — was alive and well at the DCA location, even though it’s not listed on the menu (and no longer found at all at the Disney Springs location in Walt Disney World). And I also knew that I HAD to try the ginormous Earthquake Sundae as well (this one IS found at Disney Springs in Disney World, just FYI).

With that insider track, I made it my mission to pencil in a dessert date here.

Atmosphere

We gave you an extensive look around the shop when it first opened a while back, but we’ll share a few photos so that you can get your bearings.

The shop has a vintage feel to it, channeling a time around the early part of the 20th century, with tile floors, dark wood, and brass trim. Photos lining the walls share snapshots of history and show the chocolate making process.

Photographs

Photographs

Have you ever wondered exactly how to pronounce Ghirardelli? You’re not alone! Here you go!

It's Official! THIS is How You Pronounce Ghirardelli!

It’s Official! THIS is How You Pronounce Ghirardelli!

The history on the walls fits the chocolate company’s image. Ghirardelli emphasizes its bean to bar process as well as their 160-year history of making chocolate from start to finish. Read more about the background of the company and the chocolate making process in our previous post.

And while ice cream goodies are the focus at this store, they also have typical Ghirardelli merch. When you first enter the shop, you find a retail space, where you can buy a large array of Ghirardelli chocolate treats to take home with you.

Chocolate Bars

Chocolate Bars

Chocolate Display

Chocolate Display

Treats also include a selection of candies in bulk bins.

Bulk Chocolate for Sale

Bulk Chocolate for Sale

Want some gourmet Chocolate Almonds, or Malted Milk Balls? Grab a bag, fill it, and head to the registers!

Bulk Bins -- Up Close

Bulk Bins — Up Close

You’ll also find Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries and an assortment of baked goods, like Chocolate Chip Cookies and Brownies. The cookies and brownies also take center stage in a couple of Ghirardelli sundaes.

Counter Top Display of Pre-Made Treats

Counter Top Display of Pre-Made Treats

Registers are located at one side of the shop. Here, you can purchase your chocolate treats, or order something from the menu!

Cash Registers in the Ordering Area

Cash Registers in the Ordering Area

Once you place your order, you simply wait until your name is called at one of the numbered windows. While you’re waiting, be sure to check out the beautiful mural, which depicts landmarks from San Francisco.

Checkout and Ordering Area

Pick Up Windows

The mural is actually interactive! It comes to life based upon what you order. For instance, if you order the Earthquake, the buildings will shake!

Ghirardelli Mural with Golden Gate Mural

Ghirardelli Mural with Golden Gate Mural

See that guy in the forefront? He comes to life, panning for gold, when you order the Gold Rush. :-D

Another Mural

Another Mural

Once you’ve had your fill of mural watching, and you’ve gathered your sundaes, shakes, and chocolate goodies, you’ll head back outside to enjoy them. The only seating is outdoors, but most of it is shaded by umbrellas or the shop’s porch.

Outdoor Seating

Outdoor Seating

I don’t know about you, but I can only talk about chocolate so long before I want to eat some. :-) Time to figure out which treats we’ll indulge in during this visit.

Eats

Whether you’re choosing a Sundae or a Cone, you’ll find that you have options. And in addition to all of the other lovely smells in the shop, you’ll also catch a whiff of the waffles, as they emerge warm from irons. By all means, splurge on a handmade waffle cone or bowl! And don’t skip the Hot Fudge that’s made right here. You get to choose between the dark chocolate and the milk chocolateYUM.

Options

Options

After deliberations, I knew this was the time. The time to finally try the decadent — and HUGE — Earthquake Family Favorite.

Eight scoops of Ice Cream, Bananas and eight different toppings, Whipped Cream, chopped Almonds, semi-sweet Chocolate Chips, and Cherries, we didn’t know quite where to begin. This sundae, which is clearly meant for sharing, will easily feed four people, if not more. It definitely gives the Mickey Pants Sundae and the Kitchen Sink Sundae at Beaches and Cream in Disney World a run for their money!

Earthquake Family Favorite

Earthquake Family Favorite

But there’s no way we could pass up enjoying a little variety, so we didn’t stop there. Since both Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter make me very happy, we also tried the Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae and the Gold Rush Sundae.

Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae and Gold Rush Sundae

Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae and Gold Rush Sundae

You won’t find the Gold Rush — a combo of Hot Fudge and Melted Peanut Butter – on the official menu, since Ghirardelli started a push to go peanut-free a while back.

Gold Rush Sundae

Gold Rush Sundae

But for whatever reason, you can still ask for this one. And I’m SO glad, because it’s my favorite! I’m a big fan of the chocolate-peanut butter combo, and they execute it perfectly here. Whipped Cream, Chopped Almonds, and a Cherry finish the picture.

Gold Rush Sundae -- Up Close

Gold Rush Sundae — Up Close

Our other selection, the Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae, was also a show stopper. This one includes Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel, housemade Hot Fudge, and just a touch of Sea Salt. It’s crowned with Whipped Cream, and more Caramel and Sea Salt. Then, just for good measure, they tuck a square of Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate into the top.

Now, believe it or not, I actually liked this one better than the peanut butter one (and THAT’S saying something for THIS peanut butter lover).

Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae

Ocean Beach Sea Salt Caramel Sundae

Killer.

Overall

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop is exactly what you would expect to find at Disney: over the top, absolutely perfect sundaes and ice cream treats. Toppings are fresh, and some are made right there. Portions are large and frequently shareable…if you’re so inclined. :-)

And because the theme of Disney California Adventure is a celebration of The Golden State, it makes sense that this company with such a wonderful history has found a home here. And with treats as big as a meal, you won’t leave hungry. :-)

Is Ghirardelli one of your favorite stops for ice cream and chocolate in Disneyland? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Comments

  1. Sarah says

    I agree about the Sea Salt Caramel sundae. The Gold Rush was my go-to as well, but I decided to try the caramel sundae on my last visit to WDW (prior to them removing peanuts from the shop). It was fantastic.

  2. Ann says

    So the peanuts and peanut butter is no longer on the menu but they still have them in the restaurant? I guess that I don’t understand what the purpose of that is. They said they were getting rid of the nuts because of allergies but they didn’t really get rid of them? Why not just keep those items on the menu then?

  3. DwarfPlanet says

    That Earthquake sundae reminds me of the Matterhorn you could get at Baskin and Robbins back in the day. The Matterhorn though had only 7 scoops of ice cream.

  4. Keith says

    Will never go back to this place after their ridiculous participation in the peanut hysteria.

  5. says

    Luckily we have a our own Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Ice Cream shop here in Las Vegas…this review is making me crave a sundae!

  6. Michele says

    As a huge peanut butter lover myself, I always go for the Gold Rush. But it looks like now I’ll need to try the salted caramel sundae!!

  7. Angelina says

    That gold rush one looks amazing!!!! I’ve never been too impressed by the gigantic sundaes like the kitchen sink or earthquake. It just melts too fast and i feel sick after trying to pound it down too quickly. I would understand the appeal though if you had a big group. :P

  8. Neera says

    PLEASE bring back the gold rush!! I have food allergies so I get it. Just be super careful not to cross-contaminate.

  9. Victoria stobbs says

    When over from the UK this is a must do and we go there at least twice on our two week vacay! I’m a lover of the crissy field sundae and first time I had it my 8month old daughter helped eat it! She probably want her own now she’s 2.5! Lol hubby loves the hot fudge sundaes. Can’t wait to take the i laws here this year too!

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