Friday, January 9, 2015

#32 - Ghirardelli's Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop

Category: Restaurants
Category Rank: 5

Park: Downtown Disney
Park Rank: 2

Our next selection brings up many good questions for a nostalgic Disney list.  How many things from Downtown Disney should be on the list, if any?  And, should a separate non-Disney vendor truly have a spot on the list?  I would say to the first, "not many", and to the second, "no".

Ghirardelli's (boy, that is weird to spell) is a bit different.  It fits the "restaurant" category, but it is not on here as a restaurant.  Yeah, the food (i.e. chocolate) it has is pretty tasty, but that is really irrelevant in the larger picture.  I would definitely pick Main Street Plaza Ice Cream Parlor over this one, and the Parlor isn't close to making this list.

It is on here for a very unique experience for our family... namely, the process of going and getting our free chocolate square sample.

Not pictured... any pictures with our family at the store (we want to be able
to make multiple trips per visit incognito)
Ghirardelli happens to be a higher-end chain of chocolatiers, with stores in many locations.  The process of handing out their one-square individually-packaged samples of chocolate is the same at all the locations I have been to (I'm pretty comfortable saying it is their company policy).  So it isn't unique to Disney by any imagination.

However, it is very popular.  Sneakily so, I would reckon.  The place isn't that big to begin with, and it packs in people because of the handout.  I'm not sure how much profit it brings in, but in terms of marketing, it is a huge success.  So much so that some families, perhaps some that look suspiciously like the Abbeys, will go in several times to get multiple handouts.

Yes, this entry also brings up an ethical dilemma about how many handouts you can take ethically.  But heck, we are on vacation, and we don't resort to changing our clothes to give off the appearance we are a different family visiting from Wisconsin (the cheesehead hats wouldn't fit on the overhead compartment of the plane).

So bottom line for our family is, every single time we are in Downtown Disney, we stop in Ghirardelli at least twice.  Every time.  We've got to make our stop at Ghirardelli.  And even though that is a non-Disney vendor, that is enough to put this entry on this list.  There is a big difference in our opinions between this place, and the Rainforest Cafe's or Starbucks that appear in WDW and would have no chance of showing up on this list.

I think most people would agree that Ghirardelli's is a fun quick stop and the chocolate is good.  Many would disagree about it being that nostalgic of an event.  But, that is the beauty of WDW.  There are many crannies like this that each can have their own.  Just like the Riverside Food Court.  We mentioned Disney Rob before; it isn't a Disney trip until he has had his stop at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney.  Which means, we apparently have never been on a Disney Trip.  Gotta try that place at some point.

Interestingly enough, there are three of these "restaurant" locations that are special to us that others might scoff at.  Our 3rd item will be coming up in a few entries and has many similarities to Ghirardelli's.

So, what about Downtown Disney, then?  Downtown Disney is the shopping and entertainment area, and requires no paid admission.  It is a "quasi-park", if you will.  We are not big nightclub seekers, and while we loved La Nouba, that would definitely qualify as a thrill, so that doesn't appear on this list.  The overall atmosphere is pretty good, actually, but it doesn't have "lands" or unique themed areas like the parks do, so it loses out there as well.

So, you won't see a lot of entries on this list.  That doesn't make it bad; it just makes it less nostalgic.  Though, the #1 Downtown Disney attraction does make it pretty high on this list.

Our next item on the list ends our first half of the entries.  We return to the land of deluxe resorts we have not stayed at.  This resort is either my favorite or 2nd favorite, if you were paying attention to earlier posts.

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