Review: Reimagined Beaches & Cream
Our restaurant review of the newly-reimagined Beaches & Cream Soda Shop takes a look at the expanded and redesigned interior of the ice cream spot at Yacht & Beach Club Resort. This Walt Disney World dining review features thoughts on atmosphere, food photos, and our take on whether it’s still worth doing a meal or dessert here.
For starters, Beaches and Cream Soda Shop accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount and also offers 10% off discounts to Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members. Normally, it would also participate in the Disney Dining Plan as a one-credit table service restaurant but that has been temporarily suspended.
This follows Beaches & Cream being overhauled for the second half of last year as it expanded into the adjacent Lafferty Place Arcade and Ariel’s Restaurant. The new-look Beaches & Cream has since reopened with over double the size, which should help with demand. But does Beaches & Cream still have the same delightful design and alluring ambiance? We stopped in to have lunch and find out…
One of the difficulties with which this blog is confronted is audience fragmentation. This audience here is split fairly evenly between Walt Disney World diehard fans and first-timers. It should go without saying, but these groups often have very different perspectives, priorities, and background (or lack thereof) with Walt Disney World.
Nowhere is that contrast more apparent than with the redone Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. If you’re a longtime Walt Disney World fan, who has frequented Beaches & Cream with regularity in the past, there’s a good chance you’ll be devastated by this overhaul. You might lament the loss of charm, personality, and intimacy in the venue. You wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.
If you’re a first-timer, you’d lack the personal connections to or nostalgia for the old restaurant. Viewing this with a clean slate, you might very well love what you see, finding Beaches & Cream to be a buoyant and bright setting. You also would not necessarily be wrong.
For lack of alternatives, our approach is simply a middle ground one. Personally, I find a lot less to like about the interior at Beaches and Cream. It lacks the charisma and feels less like a bygone-era soda shop. The old style wasn’t perfect, and had a slight 90s datedness to it, but it also had a magnetism.
It’s tough to articulate why, but we’ve always loved Beaches & Cream, and the experience of being there without feeling strongly about anything on the menu. The fun atmosphere is the primary reason we frequented Beaches & Cream before the overhaul. The food and ice cream were only okay–surpassed by its nearby counterparts for both food and desserts.
However, now that Ample Hills Creamery is permanently closed and with Crew’s Cup Lounge also not currently operating, Beaches & Cream has seen its stock rise on those fronts. While this will certainly change as Walt Disney World’s phased reopening continues, Beaches & Cream is arguably the best option for savory meals and sweet treats right now.
We were hardly alone in our love for Beaches & Cream. The popularity of the restaurant had exploded in the last decade, leaving Walt Disney World with the unenviable task of increasing capacity while not compromising that inarticulable quality that made Beaches & Cream so beloved.
Whether they successfully balanced those competing interests is a matter of perspective. I think a lot of the new touches work nicely in reinforcing the look of a bygone-era, Disneyfied soda shop. The character artwork scattered on the walls is a nice touch. So too is the beach ball motif, which has been retained.
In other regards, it falls woefully short for my liking. The decision to cram as much seating in the already expanded seating area is off-putting. There are zero booths, the tables are cramped, and the overall look is simply too clean.
For me, a big part of the ‘secret sauce’ of Beaches & Cream is that it leaned into its kitschy brand of Americana. It was bright, vibrant, and visually cluttered…which was the entire point. The campiness was a feature, not a flaw. In addition to removing the intimacy, the reimagined Beaches & Cream dialed the over-the-top kitsch back way too much.
Some of this could be remedied. Triple or double the amount of artwork lining the walls. Splash more pastel colors throughout the restaurant. Relocate the jukebox to be the centerpiece of the seating area, rather than resigned to a distant corner. Replace the trendy-modern light fixtures with cheesy ones.
In short, give Beaches & Cream more personality–even a corny one. That’s better than trying too hard to make it chic (IHOP has done the same thing with its designs), which was never the point of this restaurant in the first place.
With all of that said, anyone who has no experience with the old-look Beaches & Cream or went primarily for the food and ice cream in the past is highly unlikely to have these same reactions to the reimagined design.
It’s not that Beaches & Cream is suddenly bad–far from it. The problem for us is that the balance tipped a bit too far towards ‘function’ over form when balancing theme and capacity.
Not a ton has changed about the menu at Beaches & Cream, aside from a handful of new items. We ordered some of these along with tried and true favorites for a good mix.
First up, Sarah ordered the Salmon Sandwich with Bacon AÃ¯oli, Bibb Lettuce, and Tomato on Multigrain Bun. The price for this is an eye-popping $21, but she was still a fan of the sandwich. It had two hearty salmon fillets, and the accompaniments admirably balanced healthiness with tastiness. Sarah was really impressed by this, and would order it again.
For my entree, I ordered the Patty Melt with Swiss, Sautéed Onions, Mushrooms, and Garlic-Peppercorn Dressing on Marbled Rye Bread.
Ever since Crew’s Cup Lounge jacked up the price of its burger and eliminated the truffle fries, it has offered a less-pronounced advantage over Beaches & Cream. Upon tasting this patty melt in all of its decadent glory, I might have a new go-to mid-range entree in the Crescent Lake area. Everything about this was absolutely fantastic–it’s been a few years, but this is much better than I recall the burgers at Beaches & Cream being. Highly recommended.
For her side, Sarah upgraded to the Chili and Cheese Tots: Loaded Plant-based Tots with Chili, Cheese, Sour Cream, and Green Onions for an extra $1.50.
These are one of the new menu items, and are another in a line of vegan items that mimic standard dishes. They weren’t quite as hearty or indulgent as their meat-based counterparts, but if you weren’t advised that these weren’t plant-based, you might not have known.
For my side, I upgraded to the Cheese and Bacon Tots Tots with Cheese Sauce, Bacon, Red Onions, and Garlic-Peppercorn Ranch.
These were likewise a glorious guilty-pleasure, but one really well done. I’d absolutely order these again, and I think the Patty Melt plus these plus the No Way Jose would be the ultimate recipe for one utterly blissful food coma.
Unfortunately, the No Way Jose is not what we ordered for dessert. Instead, we opted for the new Cookie Fries with Dipping Sauce: Plant-based Cookie Fries with Assorted Dips.
These ended up being not just one of the worst desserts we’ve ever had at Walt Disney World, but one of the worst anywhere ever. We previously knocked Epcot’s Cookie Stroll as tasting like stuff you could buy at Publix, but this dessert had us wistfully longing for that.
The Cookie Fries managed to be cold, hard, dry, stale, and largely tasteless. I’d expect better results if you just sliced up some random cookies that were lying around. These were actively bad–imagine slicing up and eating random Amazon boxes you have lying around. The provided dipping sauces did a bit to mask that, but with the cookies themselves being so listless, we couldn’t even finish the dessert. (A rarity for me.)
While the Cookie Fries may be an affront to good desserts, we can’t really hold that against Beaches & Cream. There are still numerous fan favorites and iconic items on the menu, we just so happened to choose the one plant-based thing (because it’s new). We should’ve known better, and that’s sort of on us.
Overall, if you loved Beaches & Cream Soda Shop before primarily for the kitschy style and intimate atmosphere, you might be disappointed with the new look. If you appreciated it primarily for the American fare and iconic desserts, you’ll likely be happy. If you enjoyed a mix of the two, it’s tough to say where you’ll fall with the reimagined restaurant.
If you’ve never visited Beaches & Cream before, this is all new to you either way. You will probably enjoy the atmosphere coupled with the savory entrees and fun desserts. Perhaps you won’t become as enamored with the place as you would’ve if visiting for the first time 5 years ago, but Beaches & Cream is still a winner that’s worth checking out if you’re staying in the Crescent Lake area.
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Have you tried the new-look Beaches & Cream Soda Shop? What do you think of its style? What about the menu? 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 visited Beaches and Cream once years ago. This redesign is just sad. It looks like a hotel restaurant/breakfast seating area.
We were fortunate to get a reservation there for our August trip. Really looking forward to it – they cancelled it.
Yuck. I think I’ll pass on this place going forward. They took away all the charm.
Went toBeaches and Cream several times in February /March. Reservations were easy to get. Before the renovation you were lucky to get one. I’m one of the diehard fans and am very disappointed in the Reno. No booths, the ice cream tables are missing, the tables are on top of each other and very noisy. The wait staff was very rushed with little interaction. The decor is lacking Disney. Food and ice cream were good. I didn’t even see the juke box. I likes going inside for the carry out ice cream and watching it being made. Now you line up at a window. A bit more of the ice cream shop gone
Love beaches and cream but not real thrilled about the new layout. Where are the private booths??? They helped make the feel of a real old fashion soda shop. So glad they kept the counter seating. They should have increased that also. The color scheme is great but don’t like the tables on top of one another. Where is the jukebox? That should be center stage. You missed your mark on that one Disney. Bring back the booths.
That’s a shame they did that to Beaches and Cream. I LOVED the old version. It was so bright, and happy. I have no desire to go to the new one. I’ll just keep the original in my minds eye and pretend it still looks the same.
It’s pretty devastating and I don’t know what they were thinking. In the realm of Disney, this is sterile looking. My heart is a little broken over this one. What was the point? Why don’t they just “update” 50s prime time next! Who wants anything remotely current when they go to Disney? Leave today behind and give me the past or the future in my opinion, and don’t water it down! Tom you’re being very nice, I’m on the belligerent side of this one..
Ok. I know I’m weird. And British. But we waited an hour and a half to grab a counter seat as ‘walk-ins’ on Jan 1st. Sat on the beach in the sunshine to wait. Idyllic. Never saw the first restaurant but we all loved the current one. On your recommendation we just went straight for the kitchen sink and had all the razzmatazz: siren, flashing lights, everyone looking at the waitress announcing our challenge and the lovely schmaltzy ‘A whole can’. We didn’t need any more Americana than that. Unforgettable experience and well worth the money.
We went to beaches & cream in 2017 before the re-fit , it was our first trip to Disney & we had heard so much about it we made a reservation with friends & managed to get seated together with children in a booth & adults on a table. We liked the fact that it was a diner/ soda ice cream bar the kind of thing we see on tv in the Uk which seems synonymous with U.S teen programmes so we loved it. From looking at the photos it looks a bit like It’s lost it’s charm of being different & fun place to eat & not special. Let’s just hope on our return the staff as as crazy & interactive as before .
We ate here in February and even though we had a reservation there was a very long wait. Our meals were fine and everyone enjoyed their ice cream desserts. The new design definitely felt more cafeteria style than the older restaurant. I think your idea for the juke box is great–I didn’t even notice it. Booth seating would have also been nice.
Tom, any chance you can update your article with pictures of how Beaches & Cream used to look as well? Not having been there before (like many of your readers, as you acknowledge), I have no idea how its appearance has changed. Just a thought… thanks!
I actually don’t have many good wide photos of the interior (mostly because whenever we dined there, it was crowded), but a few are in our full review: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/beaches-and-cream-beach-club-kitchen-sink-review/
I would love that too,, I’ve been collecting items to recreate Beaches N’ Cream in miniature for over 2 years and just as I’m ready to set it up, it looks so different. Not sure i love it.
You must have not been there during a very busy time because you did not mention the deafening noise level. Cramming that many tables into an area without any surfaces that would help absorb the noise makes the busy dinner hours very unpleasant and uncomfortable and almost painful. We could not wait to get out of there. We mentioned this to our server, and he told us that he had recently put in for a transfer to another restaurant for that reason and was hoping to be reassigned soon.
No, it was dead when we dined there so it wasn’t noisy at all. What you’re describing makes perfect sense, though–thanks for mentioning that!
Disneys Quest for Increased Margins and Profit is Effectively Eliminating the Magic from all there Properties! New Direction in Leadership is Desperately Needed, the place we we have come to know and love is Withering on the Vine!
Thanks for the review Tom. As one of the diehard fans of the original version of the restaurant, I hadn’t seen photos of the update until your review. It’s…umm…not what I imagined it would be at all. The space looks cavernous in the photos, to start – like at least three times the original size. I would have focused on only doubling the square footage of the original, to keep the intimate feel as much as possible. (As an aside, reservations could be had even in the original tiny space if you worked at it.) As far as the design aesthetic, it’s modern and clean, but so far from the original that I can only hope it looks better in person than it does in even your (always) great pics.
I’d say it’s about 2.5x the old size. It does not look better in person–the photos are pretty true to life.
I hadn’t been to Beaches & Cream in years and dropped by in late January, as we were staying at Yacht club. It’s a terrible reno. Generic and lifeless in the way so many current era Disney World projects (read: Riviera) are. I think the sad truth is that Disney is no longer building anything for die-hard fans. Their game seems to be giving affluent first timers an experience that feels modern, clean and contemporary – like the W hotel in their home city.
Completely agree with both posts. Disney is working hard to remove classic, authentic theming from all its properties. Just look at the Disney store at Disney Springs. You can design a better flow and still have a customer say “wow” upon entering. Instead, Disney’s current policy is “ho-hum”. R.I.P the classic Beaches and Cream.
Maybe one of the silver linings that comes out of the current situation is a realization of how essential die-hard fans are, and a recalibration of Disney’s design priorities as a result. WDW is going to need its hardcore fanbase to recover, and in the process they might realize how fickle first-time and/or affluent guests are.