One of our favorite Walt Disney World desserts is the Citrus Swirl. As explained in our List of Best Snacks in Magic Kingdom, the iconic Orange Bird treat is even superior to the (arguably) overrated Dole Whip. Unfortunately, the Citrus Swirl is currently gone from Adventureland. (Updated March 27, 2022.)
Despite Orange Bird’s ever-increasing presence in Magic Kingdom, his unofficial dessert flew the coop last summer. At the time, this was not particularly noteworthy. There have been multiple occasions in the last several years when the Citrus Swirl has been temporarily unavailable due to issues with its machines.
Admittedly, we haven’t meticulously monitored this situation in the past–we just know the Citrus Swirl hasn’t always been on the menu at Sunshine Tree Terrace in the decade since its return. ‘Machine issues’ has usually been the proffered explanation, and we’ve just taken it at face value…because why wouldn’t we?
More recently, Walt Disney World has had problems with supply chain issues. This has impacted everything from merchandising to dining, as souvenirs have disappeared from shelves and items from menus. Further explanation here likely isn’t necessary–you’ve almost certainly encountered this in your day to day life, too.
As such, when the Citrus Swirl disappeared from Mobile Order late last summer, we assumed one of those two things was the culprit. Either parts to repair its machine or ingredients (frozen orange juice? sugar? magical deliciousness?) it uses were difficult to acquire for whatever reason.
As the months have gone on and readers have continued to ask (our fault since we’ve continued to recommend getting the Citrus Swirl in multiple posts–but we assumed it’d be back by now!), we figured we should head out to Magic Kingdom and see what’s up…
March 27, 2022 Update: As of this week (thanks Amanda D. in the comments for the heads up!), the Citrus Swirl has returned to Sunshine Tree Terrace in Magic Kingdom. Note that while the physical signage at the snack spot has not been updated to reflect this, the Citrus Swirl is available via Mobile Order in the My Disney Experience app (you can also just go up to the window and order it, despite it not being on that menu). At least, for now.
Note “Citrus Swirl” is product name, not a generic term or Disney slang. If you don’t see something specifically called the Citrus Swirl, it is not this. DOLE Whip Orange Cup is not the Citrus Swirl. Orange Cream Soft-Serve Cup is not the Citrus Swirl. Sparkling Sunshine Float is not the Citrus Swirl. Twinings of London Hot Tea is certainly not the Citrus Swirl. While (some of) those things look similar to the Citrus Swirl, they taste very different. Only the Citrus Swirl is the Citrus Swirl. Accept no substitutes!
What follows is our “investigative reporting” from a few weeks ago about the disappearance of the Citrus Swirl, why this has happened, and the significance of the snack. Some of this is interesting and I fear the rest will be relevant again in due time, so I’m preserving it here for posterity. In the meantime, go out and order a Citrus Swirl–the real one–from Sunshine Tree Terrace in Magic Kingdom!
During a visit to Magic Kingdom earlier this week, I actually rope dropped Sunshine Tree Terrace. Not intentionally–I was just racing around and passing by right as the window opened. No one else was around, a rarity for that popular location, so I figured that was a great time to find out when the Citrus Swirl would return.
The Cast Member with whom I spoke said there had been a lot of problems with the Citrus Swirl, and that it was “probably gone for good.” Not exactly the answer I was hoping to hear.
Wanting to see if I could find out anything more…or perhaps a more palatable explanation…I went back the following day and inquired again. The answer was more or less the same, leaving the door open for the Citrus Swirl to return but pretty pessimistic that it would be back anytime soon.
This is pretty far from investigative journalism, so I didn’t press either of the Cast Members for further answers or insight. (For bloggers, there’s a fine line between asking normal guest questions and being an overbearing pain; I like to stay on the correct side of that.)
I know this isn’t the most illuminating update, or pressing issue for most Walt Disney World fans. I’m mostly sharing this to raise awareness. Also, because it’s possible that the Citrus Swirl could be brought back “by popular demand” if enough fans know it’s gone and request its return. (Again, there’s a fine line between a polite request and entitled demands; it’s good to know the difference–and makes for more persuasive feedback.)
Petitions are largely pointless, especially if they’re aimed at ousting a CEO who’s popular with shareholders or bringing back something niche that’ll cost considerable capex investment. Nevertheless, Walt Disney World still does value constructive guest feedback, especially when it’s aimed at reasonable targets. Something like this is low-hanging fruit, so to speak; the Citrus Swirl could be restored if it were on the radars of the right leaders.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the history of Orange Bird and the Citrus Swirl, that is exactly what happened about a decade ago. It’s actually a fun story. After being gone for a quarter century, Magic Kingdom brought back Orange Bird and the Citrus Swirl in Spring 2012 during Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary. This came after years of online fascination with the Orange Bird in the fandom, and limited merchandise releases by D23 and Pin Trading.
It was a really big deal at the time, with Imagineering restoring other aspects of the original Sunshine Pavilion. After a fortuitous fire, the Enchanted Tiki Room returned for the start of Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary, as did other little details like tiki torches. Imagine if Disney announced that Dreamfinder were coming back in an updated Journey into Imagination–it was akin to that, albeit on a smaller scale.
Even fans who didn’t care about Citrus Swirls, Orange Bird, or the specifics of Adventureland were heartened. It felt like park management was listening, and Disney had allowed a dedicated group from the Archives, D23, and Imagineering to bring the passion project to fruition. (There were actually a handful of little ‘restoration’ projects in Magic Kingdom around that time, but this was the highest profile one.)
It was a positive change demonstrating that some leaders at Walt Disney World truly care about the details and making Magic Kingdom a special place. It was a small victory, and not just for historically-minded fans. The return of Orange Bird and the Citrus Swirl were substantive improvements for all guests, adding a layer of detail, another unique character, and a delicious dessert for all to enjoy.
In general, we like to celebrate these small victories as a form of positive reinforcement. That (hopefully) encourages more improvements like this, and demonstrates that the most ardent fans also aren’t entirely unreasonable. Just because you’re dissatisfied about one change–or several recent ones–doesn’t mean that you still can’t be happy about other changes.
Complaining about every single one of Disney’s decisions doesn’t make you part of some fierce “opposition” group. It makes your voice easier for the company to disregard entirely, especially when your spending doesn’t comport with what you’re saying.
Beyond that, not everything can or should be a new land or E-Ticket. To the contrary, I’d contend that some of the best and emotionally resonant additions in recent years are smaller scale, likely put together on tighter budgets and by dedicated groups that willed them into existence. Praise and positive feedback from guests about these offerings only helps those teams with their next endeavor.
This is why, from my perspective, each and every little change that adds or restores some of the charm and uniqueness to Walt Disney World deserves to be highlighted. Over time and in aggregate, minor improvements add up. Plus, if Walt Disney World has taught us anything, it’s that every little detail is important. But I digress, as we’re well off-topic from the original “what’s up with the Citrus Swirl/will it ever come back?” question.
In any case, all of this is why the Citrus Swirl and Orange Bird are important to me, and the reason we’ve spent way too much money over the years “voting with our wallets” to support the Citrus Swirl. (It has nothing to do with them being addictively good–we’re doing it as a form of activism!) Admittedly, there’s an incredibly big part of me that sees the success story of Orange Bird, and wants to see that repeated with Figment, Dreamfinder, and the original Journey into Imagination.
That’s also why this rambling post about a seemingly insignificant topic exists. Seeing small steps forward undone over time is disappointing, but I remain hopeful that the Citrus Swirl isn’t really gone for good. There are still plenty of passionate people working behind the scenes at Walt Disney World (at this time last year, a new Orange Bird mural was added to Sunshine Tree Terrace), and constructive guest feedback can be helpful. Who knows, maybe they’re waiting for the removal of the Magic Carpets of Aladdin (addition by subtraction) before bringing back the Citrus Swirl once more. Might as well “dream big” if we’re listing Adventureland improvements!
Have you ever had a Citrus Swirl at Magic Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree that it’s the better of the two iconic Adventureland snacks? Think this is one of the “little things” that makes Walt Disney World special, or just another interchangeable dessert? Thoughts about giving the company constructive feedback or praise where it’s due? 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!