Ample Hills Creamery is an ice cream shop at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn at Walt Disney World. This review features ice cream photos, or thoughts on the 16 flavors served at Ample Hills, and our take on the value for money of this chic new ice cream spot. In this case, “chic” isn’t just randomly just tossed around–Ample Hills is a trendy spot with a few locations in the New York City area.
As far as this specific location, it results from a shuffle up on the BoardWalk. The Yard Arcade and store attached to ESPN Club closed to make way for this location, which is actually a substantive replacement for Seashore Sweets, a garden-variety candy/ice cream store. AbracadaBar is the other new addition. I doubt many people are going to shed tears over the loss of the arcade. (Although Disney fandom being what it is, I’m sure a few people will come out of the woodwork claiming that the Yard Arcade was their favorite place at Walt Disney World, and their vacation was ruined by its absence.)
Ample Hills Creamery is anything but garden variety. For too long, the landscape of artisan ice cream has been dominated by pairs of poetic, pun-obsessed east coast hippies who seem to worship cows, and strive to operate conscientious businesses. The founders of Ample Hills change all of that by…um…well??? Maybe not. Whether it be Ben & Jerry or Brian & Jackie, those east coasters know dairy.
The first thing we should talk about with Ample Hills Creamery is price, because that’s probably going to be a threshold concern for many guests. When I mentioned visiting Ample Hills on Twitter, the responses included a lot of grousing about prices. To be expected, given that the single scoop (cheapest) option at Ample Hills Creamery is about $6, expensive accounting for normal “Walt Disney World inflation.”
Compared to the double scoop cones under $5 at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor or the under $4 soft serve at Auntie Gravity’s, this is a difficult price to stomach. That is, until you consider Ample Hills is a premium, handmade product (I don’t know if they pasteurize on-site like the other Ample Hills locations, though) whereas the other aforementioned Disney spots are basically sourcing their product from gallon tubs at Publix.
Sure, the Taste of Tiffins plate might cost ~$10 more than the Double Angus Cheeseburger at Restaurantosaurus (…which is currently $17.29…?!?!?), but the latter is McPick 2 quality, whereas the former is amazing from start to finish. Now is the time where I’d hit you with a Warren Buffett or Oscar Wilde quote to really drive home the distinction between price and value, but I know the highly intelligent readers of this blog already know the difference.
That’s the kicker for me, and why I think putting prices into context is important. The single scoop cone at Ample Hills does cost a lot, and arguably is overpriced even for what it is. However, from my perspective, the value proposition at Ample Hills Creamery is still better than places serving the same stuff I could get literally anywhere–including the local grocery store.
Putting Ample Hills Creamery into proper context, the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Sundae is what you’re going to want to order, and that will set you back $8.50. (It’s also better value than a single scoop.) Compared to the Coupe du Dimanche at L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot or the No Way Jose at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop over at Beach Club (even if the latter is using normal ice cream, the final product there is delicious), you’re looking at similar quality and price points. Personal preference is going to vary in terms of which one of the 3 serves the best overall product and experience, but those nearby ice cream spots are appropriate measuring sticks.
Okay, so this has been a lot of ballyhooing about price points, but none of that really matters if the experience and taste doesn’t line up, so let’s move on to these important issues, starting with experience…
This is a bit of a mixed bag. The inside of the shop has that Ben & Jerry’s vibe: too whimsical to be described as hipster, but with that same general tone and style. It’s a cute, a colorful, vintage-ish aesthetic that works fine on the BoardWalk, but isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind.
Service from the “Amployees” (I’m not sure what their actual status is–Cast Members or Amployees, I assume some sort of hybrid) was exceptional, as everyone we encountered was incredibly friendly, and eager to have us sample (yes, they actively encouraged it) as many flavors as we wanted. A much better experience than other ice cream spots at Walt Disney World, where cycling through crowds is the top priority.
In this regard, we potentially benefitted from the fact that both of our visits to Ample Hills Creamery were in the middle of the day when no one else was behind us in line. We asked about the lack of crowds, and they stated that their big rush is post-IllumiNations, when the entire queue tends to fill. I’d hazard a guess that you won’t encounter the same enthusiasm about trying samples at that time as you would mid-afternoon.
The downside to the mid-afternoon visit is the heat, coupled with lack of indoor seating. On our first visit, we ate outside, which wouldn’t be a problem (to the contrary, it would be a pleasant experience overlooking Crescent Lake) October through April, but in the summer humidity, even the ice cream wasn’t enough to keep us cool. Consequently, we ate our ice cream inside the second visit, hovering around the area where utensils are dispensed. Beaches & Cream definitely has Ample Hills Creamery beat in this regard.
Over the course of our two visits, we ordered or sampled all of the 16 flavors on the menu. A lot of this is going to come down to personal preference, obviously, but what struck me was that each flavor brought something unique to the table. This was usually accomplished via the large chunks of “stuff” in the ice cream, which gave interesting twists to familiar flavors.
I’m not going to fixate on every single flavor, but there are a few that stuck out. First, Sally Sells Seashells Ice Cream, the flavor that’s unique to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Since it’s unique, I was predisposed to ordering this one. However, the sample was underwhelming as compared to other options. It didn’t pack the same punch as did many of the other flavors (although that’s probably to be expected as a “lighter” option given its ingredients), so I decided to skip it. Your mileage may vary.
At the other end of the spectrum was Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. The absolute best flavor at Ample Hills. So creamery and sweet, with chunks of soft butter cake to add even more sweetness. I upped the ante further, ordering this as a butter cake sundae topped with caramel and whipped cream.
Scratch what I said about personal preference above. This sundae is the undisputed star of the Ample Hills Creamery menu, and if anyone disagrees, they’re wrong. The flavor is so unique as compared to a normal sundae, and the ingredients are so good. Even those who believe in moderation will question the idea of sharing this sweet dessert.
Sarah tried a PB Wins the Cup cone that first visit, and she absolutely loved it, preferring it to my Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. This is one of those rare occasions where I am right and she is wrong–she’s totally wrong here (let’s keep that between us, though). PB Wins the Cup is exceptional–better than 95% of ice cream flavors anywhere, but the notion that it’s better than Ooey Gooey (or “The O.G.” as everyone should be calling it) is laughable.
For our second visit, we opted to try new things for the sake of more comprehensive coverage, and that was a huge mistake. I ordered a more “traditional” sundae with a brownie base; it was still delicious, but not nearly as good. The entire time I was wishing I had ordered the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Sundae. (Now that I have this review out of the way, that will be my go-to order from here on out.)
If you’re so inclined to watch us ramble on about ice cream, we have a vlog recorded live from the BoardWalk as we tried Ample Hills for the first time:
Overall, Ample Hills Creamery joins the elite ice cream options at Walt Disney World, with premium pricing–but also a premium product. Whether it’s better than L’Artisan des Glaces or Beaches & Cream will come down to your preferences, but just being in the same league as those two says a lot. Even with its high prices, Ample Hills Creamery is now in our regular rotation of places to visit, and we consider it a worthwhile “vacation splurge” due to an exceptional, unique product that provides good value for money.
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Do you agree that Ample Hills Creamery is a worthwhile splurge at Walt Disney World? Or, is it overpriced? Which flavors did you like or dislike? Looking forward to stopping here? Share your thoughts in the comments!