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!
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.
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.
Have you ever wondered exactly how to pronounce Ghirardelli? You’re not alone! Here you go!
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.
Treats also include a selection of candies in bulk bins.
Want some gourmet Chocolate Almonds, or Malted Milk Balls? Grab a bag, fill it, and head to the registers!
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.
Registers are located at one side of the shop. Here, you can purchase your chocolate treats, or order something from the menu!
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.
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!
See that guy in the forefront? He comes to life, panning for gold, when you order the Gold Rush.
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.
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.
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 chocolate! YUM.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!