Ample Hills Creamery is ummmmmmmm perhaps not the direction I would have gone with name-wise if I was looking to go into the $10 ice cream cone business. But then I am also not opening a $10 ice cream cone business on the BoardWalk either. Ample Hills otherwise arrives from Brooklyn, New York and may be better known among the Disney community as the producer of the Light Side and Dark Side ice cream flavors to advertise The Force Awakens. I was actually thinking (yes I do that sometimes) the other day at Disney Springs about how many people you would have to ask before you found someone that was unaware that there was a new Star Wars movie last year. There are not a lot of products with that kind of penetration.
This carefully sourced diagram from 2012 may or may not help put the Creamery in context.
The Crescent Lake Area, which is home to the BoardWalk Inn/Villas, Beach Club/Villas, Yacht Club, Swan, and Dolphin resorts is one of the more pleasant areas on property. It’s also just a boat ride away from Hollywood Studios or the International Gateway entrance/exit at Epcot.
Ample Hills does not take up a terribly large space, but there’s plenty of room to stand and gawk at the many options on the menu. Staff welcome you to try any of the 16 flavors behind the glass and are more than happy to answer any questions you might have about ingredients, allergies, or anything else.
That’s one phenomenon that I’ve noticed both here and at Amorette’s Patisserie over at Disney Springs in particular. Everybody is so nice, which goes a long way in any environment, but particularly when you are paying a premium price for a premium product. It’s nice to feel like you’re being taken care of rather than just sent down the line to swipe your credit card. Hopefully that level of service will continue far past their grand opening date, which was just one week ago.
About three months ago, I covered the announcement that Seashore Sweets would be closing permanently before being turned into YET ANOTHER BAR FOR ALCOHOLICS attached to Flying Fish. As someone that has struggled with lurving me some DFB comments a little too much in the past, this is one set that I am ashamed to admit almost put me back in rehab:
I’ve found that if you’re being dragged out of a venue for whatever reason, screaming “YOU WILL LOSE MEMBERS!!!” is an effective way to get a psyche eval rather than a night in the drunk tank. Then for an extended stay in The City Beautiful, explain to them that you were only trying to engage in family based treats. YMMV.
But not only had the contract with Ample Hills already been signed before Sweets closed, but Disney moved a treat case, Goofy’s Glaciers, and a large cooler with candy apples and other sweets into the Screen Door General Store on the BoardWalk next door.
The selection here is virtually identical to what would have been found at Seashore Sweets and is similar to what they offer at a store like Bayview Gifts at the Contemporary.
Here’s the Ample Hills menu:
Sally Sells Seashells in the bottom right corner is “exclusive” to the “Ample Hills Creamery on the Boardwalk [sic].” Nearly everything is made in-house by hand, from the slow-churned ice cream, to the various toppings, to the waffle and cake cones, to the cookies and brownies that are sold separately or otherwise found in many of the flavors or underneath the ice cream in a sundae.
Pricing is left off of the menu they hand you outside, of course. If you have to ask… As is often the case, those willing to share will find the best value by sharing a large rather than ordering two individual smalls.
Instructions are provided for sundae creation:
One of the ladies in front of me sampled every single flavor, so they are more than a little patient for those that want to try one of each and then bolt out of there as quickly as possible to GET SOME REAL ICE CREAM at the nearest Edy’s location.
“Tides goes in. Tides goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that.” – Bill O’Reilly
Also this comic is kind of disturbing.
Ice cream is available in to-go containers should you wish to engage in the privacy of your resort room.
I tried a small M&M Cone using the most bloggable flavor in the Sally Sells Seashells – $7.49, which has a natural, fresh orange flavor and an airy overall quality to it, unlike the denseness of something like the ooey gooey butter cake. Just a hint of marshmallow fluff is present after the initial burst of citrus. The ample (get it) salty chocolate seashells kind of make your taste buds crave the sweetness of the ice cream even more, in addition to adding some heft to each scoop. I highly recommend upgrading your cone from the standard cake for one or two dollars. If you’re going for one of the richer, sweeter flavors then the pretzel cone might be a nice contrast. I went with M&M, which is basically M&M’s baked into cookie dough, which held up well to the ice cream and was basically like enjoying an M&M ice cream sandwich after initially enjoying the flavor of the ice cream itself. Do note that the cone is “hard” rather than soft like a cookie so as to stay together under the Florida sun. If you don’t like oranges or orange ice cream then I would obviously go in a different direction, but it’s certainly as Florida as an episode of Cops taped in Volusia County.
So to answer my favorite question, “IS IT WORTH IT?” I will start by providing Disney’s standard Edy’s ice cream prices:
On one hand, the $7.50 sticker price on that cone above might initially shock and your first inclination may be “OVERPRICED.” But Disney is charging five bucks for grocery store Edy’s and I think it’s worth another $2.50 to upgrade to truly handmade, in-house, “artisan” ice cream and toppings, in addition to a unique style of cone. You can of course seek out a $5 Edy’s Vanilla Cake Cone at Beaches & Cream To-Go in what is probably a less convenient location with a longer line, but I would pay the extra 79 cents for Ample Hills any day of the week.
On the other hand, if you’re standing inside Epcot and looking for satisfying homemade ice cream, you don’t even have to leave the Park.
L’Artisan des Glaces in France will take care of you. One scoop there will set you back $4.69 or two scoops (which can be different flavors) is around $6.99. Portions are smaller than Edy’s or Ample Hills, but it’s a denser product that goes a long way.
If you are headed to Beaches & Cream, consider making a reservation to order something inside:
The various sundaes are going to be a better value than just two scoops of ice cream. And while the ice cream in your No Way Jose might be “lower quality,” you may not care with the hot fudge, peanut butter and chocolate morsels, whipped cream, and a cherry.
Back to Ample Hills Creamery, where Tom ordered an $8.49 Chocolate Milk and Cookies Shake.
One interesting development was that he was asked how thick he wanted it (wink), which is a question that I don’t think I’ve been asked before. I think most people prefer a nice thick shake and after requesting one, that’s exactly what we got with the shake initially difficult to suck through the straw. For the money, I think I would go with a sundae or something else next time. It was extraordinarily refreshing, but the 16-ounce portion size isn’t giant and the flavor is the same throughout. Very good though and potentially easier to carry than some of the cones.
So that’s Ample Hills Creamery for you – a premium product served at a premium price in a pristine setting by a friendly staff. One thing to potentially note is that there is no indoor seating, so you will be enjoying your creation at one of the red metal outdoor tables or on the go. A reservation at Beaches & Cream would be air-conditioned and potentially more pleasant in the afternoon sun, depending on your temperament.
One aspect of the BoardWalk that might deter you from staying is a lack of a real, dedicated quick service along the same lines as Captain Cook’s, Contempo Cafe, The Mara, etc.
At BoardWalk Inn, you’re going to have to leave the resort and head to BoardWalk Bakery if you’re looking for much more than a pastry in the morning, which you can find at Belle Vue Lounge. And while the Bakery did away with hot breakfast some time ago, they serve a nice lineup of hot and cold sandwiches from 11am.
We will overlook the fact that their “daily specials” are always part of the regular menu.
A couple of salads and soups are also available.
I’ve had mixed success at the Bakery over the years. The $15.99 Lobster Roll that they used to offer was one of the better quick service rolls on property with lots of meat and little mayo or filler.
The quiche was probably short-lived for a reason. The box it was served in was like when you buy a single can of Coke Zero on Amazon and they send you it inside of a box more suited for shipping a birthday party bouncy castle.
BoardWalk still offers an assortment of snacks and drinks. To the lower right, they also serve basic sandwiches on gluten free bread and Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC vegan/allergy friendly treats.
A variety of pastries and other goodies are displayed prominently in the first case with standouts including the Almond Croissant, Hot Cinnamon Bun, and Cranberry-Orange Muffin.
But it gets better with Cheesecake Brownies, Oreo Cupcakes, Key Lime Tarts, and more.
All sandwiches are packed to go since there are no tables inside the bakery. We marched ours a few steps outside to a table by the edge of the water looking across to the Yacht Club Resort.
I ordered the $10.49 Roast Beef and Salami Sandwich with Provolone, Sweet Pickled Peppers, and Herb Mayonnaise on House-made Ciabatta.
Sandwiches are pre-made, so if you don’t like one of the ingredients, you’re decisively in pick-it-off-yourself mode. With that said, the sandwich can be served cold or toasted and after asking for the cast member’s recommendation, decided to order it hot. While I had complained recently about the rather paltry servings of meat, that was certainly not the case here as the roast beef was packed tightly inside to the point where it and the sweet pickled peppers were bursting at the seams. Being sweet, the peppers added just a touch of spiciness along with the salami, that was then enhanced by a nice creamy herb mayo on freshly baked bread. This picture of the interior might make it look gross, I’m not sure. But this is certainly one of the best quick service sandwiches that I’ve ever enjoyed on property and would certainly order it again, even if it wasn’t bloggable. And ordinarily I have a seizure just at the thought of doing such a thing.
Tom ordered the $11.99 Meatball Sub with House-made Meatballs, Provolone, Pecorino Romano, and a hearty Tomato Sauce on a Hoagie Roll. Like the Lobster Roll mentioned earlier, which was $16 compared to most others in the $12-range at the time, this one comes at a premium over what you’d receive for ~$10 at Pizzafari or the like. But it’s worth the extra money as the meatballs are fresh and nicely seasoned rather than thawed and microwaved. And you get a nice sprinkling of shredded romano over the usual slice of provolone microwaved over the top on much fresher bread. Tom said it was the best meatball sub he has enjoyed on property and also having enjoyed it myself in the past, I would agree with that assessment.
One downside is that your side choices are a 1-ounce bag of Lay’s Classic.
Or a couple slices of pretty wet cucumbers.
Otherwise, if you’re in the area and looking for Disney quick service, you can find burgers and nuggets and such at Hurricane Hanna’s in between the Beach/Yacht Clubs. There’s also Beach Club Marketplace for hot breakfast, sandwiches, and flatbread pizzas.
Like most of the other resorts, BoardWalk has a fun line of unique merchandise. I especially like this mug.
And this pillow.
BoardWalk Joe’s is located in the same area as the Bakery and Ample Hills, serving margaritas, cocktails, nachos, roasted nuts, and Mickey Pretzels.
Closer to Screen Door General Store, you’ll find a funnel cake stand open in the early evening:
With funnel cakes pulled from Oasis Canteen at Hollywood Studios, this might be your closest bet.
The Pizza window is located next to Trattoria al Forno. I have not had much luck here with pizza quality over the years. If you’ve tried it recently and had more luck, by all means chime in.
BoardWalk To Go is perhaps the strangest single food outlet on property. It is not operated by Disney, which means you’ve got Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Hamburgers that are just $4.25 a piece or items like the $5.25 Meatball Sandwiches and Fried Ravioli Baskets.
In fact, items are the exact same price they were 4+ years ago and items that were available back then still have “New Item!” icons beside them now. Perhaps they don’t get the same deal on printing signs that Disney does.
But while “cheap,” you do get what you pay for here as this is the “Pork Sandwich.” It was literally a pre-portioned bag of “pork” pulled from a refrigerator, cut open, and literally microwaved while I watched before being put on a grocery store bun. You would have to be really, really, really hungry and otherwise immobile to order one of these. I’m not sure if others have had better luck.
Overall, Ample Hills Creamery is a worthy addition to the BoardWalk lineup. At 79 cents more for a handmade, hand-churned small ice cream over a scoop of Edy’s grocery store quality, I don’t know how anybody could equate it to anything other than an improvement in all respects. If you’re still after Edy’s Vanilla, there is always Beaches & Cream, which you may still elect to try over Ample Hills if you’re looking for a larger portion and air-conditioning.
BoardWalk Bakery continues serving some of Disney’s better sandwiches. They are not worth going out of your way to obtain by any stretch of the imagination, but if you otherwise find yourself in the area unexpectedly or otherwise, you might check out what the menu has to offer if any of the sandwiches sound good. And of course, nothing is more bloggable than a cupcake cross-section.
I’ll see how much more I can cover before things start to get interesting.