Ample Hills Closed Permanently at Disney World
Ample Hills Creamery was an ice cream shop at Walt Disney World’s BoardWalk Inn, which is within walking distance of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This features the latest news on the future of Ample Hills at WDW, and some reminiscing about our experiences at Ample Hills over the years. (Updated July 23, 2020.)
We’ll start with the bad news. Earlier this spring, Ample Hills filed for bankruptcy protection. The shop plans to continue operating all locations at this time while reorganizing via Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Per Ample Hills, the plan at that time was to restructure and refocus while moving forward.
Ample Hills cited extreme delays in the opening of its 15,000-square-foot factory, museum, and store in as particularly detrimental to the business. Most Ample Hills locations operate in New York, but this was a big blow for Walt Disney World fans who love delicious ice cream if Ample Hills is not successful in their Chapter 11 reorganization. Sarah took the news particularly hard…
As noted here at the time, Sarah was visibly distraught by the news of Ample Hills bankruptcy, and had an immediate reaction that “we have to go to Ample Hills right now.” Mind you, this was after avoiding the parks during the final weekend of operations pre-closure out of an abundance of caution.
We didn’t end up going to Ample Hills those last couple of days, which now seems like a mistake in hindsight. This might seem hyperbolic, but Sarah talks about Ample Hills on a near-daily basis. Ample Hills is to her what In-N-Out Burger is to me. And she’s not wrong–losing Ample Hills is pretty upsetting. Ample Hills has quickly become a Walt Disney World treasure (as you can read in the review that follows).
Unfortunately, we now have more bad news for you. When Disney’s BoardWalk Inn reopened at the end of June 2020, Ample Hills did not open with it. We observed activity inside, which we hoped was the shop preparing to resume operations. After all, the chain had found a new owner and had begun reopening locations in New York City for take-out orders only after being closed for the past few months.
However, the location at Walt Disney World will not be reopening. Per a statement from Walt Disney World: “Our agreement with Ample Hills Creamery ended earlier this year. As a result, Ample Hills will close at Disney’s BoardWalk and the proposed Ample Hills location at Disney Springs will not open later this year.” Disney further states that future plans for the existing Ample Hills storefront at BoardWalk will be announced at a later date.
For now, the Ample Hills Creamery pages on DisneyWorld.com for Disney’s BoardWalk still reads “Temporarily Unavailable.” Ample Hills’ planned location for Disney Springs still says “Coming Soon” on the website, and physical construction walls are still up at Disney Springs.
We’re truly at a loss with this news. It’s not like “more bad news” is what anyone needed at this point, and we were really hoping to be able to share a feel-good comeback story here. Ample Hills was the best ice cream in all of Walt Disney World, and just a flat out fun spot. Suffice to say, the closure of Ample Hills Creamery is like the end of Osborne Lights all over again.
About the only thing that could make this better is if Disney is able to attract Salt & Straw, which operates a location in Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort, to fill these storefronts.
In any case, what follows here are our thoughts about Ample Hills, preserved here for the sake of posterity or in case you want to take a stroll down memory lane…
Unlike many other ice cream hot spots at Walt Disney World, Ample Hills Creamery is anything but garden variety. It might be heresy to some, but Ample Hills is unquestionably serving a higher quality ice cream than the off-the-shelf Edy’s served at fan-favorite Beaches & Cream.
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 social media, the responses included a lot of grousing about prices.
This is to be expected, given that the single scoop (cheapest) option at Ample Hills Creamery is about $7, expensive accounting for normal “Walt Disney World inflation.” However, it’s pretty much in line with chic real world scoop shops we frequent, like Salt & Straw or McConnell’s.
Compared to the double scoop cones at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor or Auntie Gravity’s, the prices at Ample Hills are high. That is, until you consider Ample Hills is a premium, handmade product 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 burger at Restaurantosaurus, 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 $10. No question–that’s a lot of money for ice cream.
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, you’re looking at similar price points, with arguably better quality (at least than the No Way Jose).
Now let’s take a look inside Ample Hills, which is a bit of a mixed bag. It 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” is exceptional. Everyone we’ve encountered has been incredibly friendly, and eager to have us sample as many flavors as we’ve 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’ve benefitted from the fact that most of our visits to Ample Hills Creamery were in the middle of the day when no one else was behind us in line. We typically visit Ample Hills midday when park hopping between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, rather than at the end of the night.
We’ve asked about the lack of crowds, and they stated that their big rush is post-fireworks, 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 visits to Ample Hills, we’ve 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.)
Since our first few visits to Ample Hills prior to publishing this review, we’ve returned well over a dozen times. In fact, Ample Hills Creamery ranked #1 on my List of the Best Ice Cream Spots at Walt Disney World.
During that time, we’ve honed in on our perfect order, which we both agree is the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Sundae with scoops of Sweet as Honey, PB Wins the Cup, and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake ice cream. This is a really rich and decadent dessert that you may want to split…or maybe not.
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? Which flavors did you like or dislike? What’s your perfect order at Ample Hills? Looking forward to stopping here? Do you agree or disagree with our advice? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
We stumbled upon this shop 2 years ago and just found out they’re closed bc of your post. We are Austin-ites and used to amazing ice cream (Lick, Salt & Straw) and Ample Hills was some of the best. The customer service when we visited couldn’t be beat either. Tragic.
I was a HUGE Ample Hills fan and will really miss their Boardwalk location!
If anybody is interested in learning more about the bankruptcy, their friendship with Bob Iger, how designing for Disney is different than designing in the “real world,” and the plans that were in the works for the (now cancelled) Disney Springs location, I just interviewed the founders Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna for my podcast. Have a listen if you’d like to learn more about Ample Hills: https://open.spotify.com/episode/4FXgAlJN4oZEJUdPZyz4em?si=Y58uGw9sQ-28D4AO8hixmg
If salt and straw went into that spot I just might die. Went there every day at least once on our disneyland trip!
Salt & Straw!!!! YES!!!! I hope it happens!