As a Walt Disney World ice cream aficionado, I pride myself in covering all of the breaking sundae news. It is thus with deep regret that I am so tardy in giving you the inside scoop on the refurbishment of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
This post will remedy that unconescionable error. We’ll take a look at the temporary location, what’s on the menu, the nature of the project, and when the permanent, newly-expanded Beaches and Cream Soda Shop location is expected to debut.
Perhaps most importantly, we’ll take a look at some ice cream alternatives in the Crescent Lake area, for those wanting a refreshing dessert while strolling between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot…
The Beaches & Cream closure was first announced early this year, and at that time was slated to begin at the end of summer, finishing right about now. That ended up being delayed, new ADRs opened up, Beaches & Cream remained open for another month, and millions (approximation) of Walt Disney World ice cream lovers rejoiced.
Finally, Beaches & Cream closed its doors for an expansion and refurbishment about a month ago. At the time, it was anticipated to be a three-month project lasting until around December 2019. At that same point, a temporary location opened next door.
The latter is a private event space for Disney’s Fairytale Weddings and is actually the location of the temporary Beaches & Cream, located inside Beach Club and next door to Martha’s Vineyard lounge.
Last week, work on the Beaches & Cream refurbishment and expansion kicked into high gear. Construction walls went up around the exterior facade of the restaurant.
Curtains have gone up within both Ariel’s and Lafferty Place Arcade to conceal the expansion in there. (Lafferty Place Arcade will also have limited hours for about a week while its interior is contracted.)
Despite the initial slow-going with the construction at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, it’s our understanding that the current plan is for it to still reopen in December 2019…just in term for the coldest month of the year, when ice cream is in high demand in Florida.
(Joking aside, Beaches & Cream is historically quite busy in December, and scientifically, any time is a good time for ice cream.)
Other unknowns abound. For one, we don’t know if this is a simple refurbishment and seating area expansion in the style of the existing design.
Given that Walt Disney World hasn’t released new concept art (or really acknowledged this project, period), we’re hopeful that it’s not a wholesale re-imagining.
Not that we question the judgment of Disney’s interior designers when it comes to stylistic choices, but…actually, we totally do. Beaches & Cream Soda Shop is pitch perfect, as-is. It doesn’t need a bland and generically modern interior, like Ale & Compass. It doesn’t need to feel like hipsters moved into an old barn and found some zany and eclectic decor on clearance at Anthropologie, like half the restaurants at Disney Springs.
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop is iconic for its whimsy, pastel colors, and charming vibe. An enormous part of the appeal is that it could be the setting for Back to the Future, or the drugstore soda fountain where the father in Carousel of Progress takes one of those new-fangled trolleys down to meet the boys for a cold sarsaparilla.
In fact, the themed design and ambiance is so integral to Beaches & Cream Soda Shop that we hesitate to recommend it during this refurbishment. The temporary seating area in Ariel’s is fine (the outdoor seating adjacent to Stormalong Bay is better), but it’s nothing special.
This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if you’ve read our previous posts on Beaches & Cream. We’ve noted that all of the ice cream creations here use off-the-shelf Edy’s, and what gives them appeal is the combination of toppings, presentation, and the superlative atmosphere of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.
In short, Beaches & Cream is a great experience, a state of mind, a way of life, or even a philosophy for humanity and virtue. It may or may not be all of those things, but it is not a great ice creamery. If you take away the soda shop, you’re left with a bunch of average ice cream concoctions.
With that said, you can still get the famous No Way Jose and other sundaes. However, you cannot order any of the regular food menu, nor can you get any version of the Kitchen Sink or any milkshakes.
Rather than going for the truncated Beaches & Cream experience, we instead recommend a few alternatives during these trying times while soda shop itself is being refurbished. The first and most obvious one is Ample Hills Creamery.
Located just across Crescent Lake at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, Ample Hills serves up the best ice cream at Walt Disney World. (Order the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake Sundae and prepare to have your mind blown!)
If you’re looking for a Kitchen Sink substitute, consider the Fountain over at the Swan & Dolphin. There, you can order the $29 “Fountain Funnel,” which has your choice of seven ice cream flavors, three sauces, and three toppings along with whipped cream and a cherry. It doesn’t have the same fanfare or novelty, but if you’re looking for a gigantic and shareable dessert that will give brain freeze to your entire family, that’s your best bet at Walt Disney World right now!
As for the future of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, a lot remains to be seen. As noted above, it’s still expected to reopen in time for the busy holiday season at Walt Disney World. However, project dates are always subject to change, nothing has been officially announced, and this did get off to a slow start. We’ll keep you posted as we learn anything new about the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop refurbishment and expansion!
What are you expecting from the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop project? Think it’ll maintain the same style and intimacy? Planning on visiting the temporary location, or expanding your ice cream horizons during this construction? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of skipping the temporary Beaches & Cream during this refurbishment and expansion? Any questions? 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!