There are a handful of experiences at Walt Disney World® Resort that stand out above the rest. They are the sort of experiences that keep you coming back, the kind you go home and tell everyone about for months or years until you get the chance to return.
Gideon's Bakehouse is one of those experiences.
With a start as a small, local business in the East End Market region of Orlando, it is easy to root for Gideon's as it opens its new location in the tourist hotspot that is Disney Springs.
Yet in its time before Disney Springs, Gideon's garnered an enormous following, becoming one of Orlando's must-try experiences. As its celebrity status exploded, Gideon's has not lost its local touch, with the owner, Steve, managing its social media personally and providing updates on wait times, menus and answering questions in the comments. As is trend with everything at Gideon's, there is an intense attention to detail that stands among some of Disney's proudest theme park accomplishments.
The store's half-pound cookies (yes, they're enormous) have put it at seemingly everyone's center of attention. At its grand opening in Disney Springs, cars wrapped around two parking garages and back to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park waiting at both entrances for Orange Garage's early opening at 9 a.m. We got in line almost an hour before Disney Springs opened, and by the time we entered into the virtual queue we were told there was a six-and-a-half-hour wait.
On days not promoted as the grand opening, we waited for only one hour (when it was advertised as three). Virtual queues with such a demand are not an exact science, but the good news is that once the physical line into the store is full, cast members take your phone number to be entered into a virtual line. When even a single hour is a long time for a family on vacation, it is reassuring to know that when you get the text that it's time to return to line, you have until the end of the day to get to the store (cast members told us to just text the number back that your return could take a while).
The best move is to either spend the day in Disney Springs or resort-hop after getting in the virtual queue, or send someone in your party to get in line and bus to the parks after they have secured a spot in the virtual line—allowing your whole party to go later that night.
The virtual queue can only be joined on-location, and it is possible that the queue can close to ensure everyone with a spot in line can get in. The ultimate strategy is simple: go early if you want to get into Gideon's Bakehouse.
The Orange Garage opens an hour early, so park there and make your way to the shop next to Wine Bar George (near Paddlefish and Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar).
A Spirited Atmosphere
All the trouble of securing a spot in line makes sense the moment the grand doors swing open to sweep your party into its Tim Burton fever dream of an interior. Reminiscent of a haunted bookshop, art of mythical creatures dot its walls as books twist through every corner. Smoke flows off the counters beneath gorgeous chandeliers that lend a dim ambiance to the entire shop. Its winding line and bright display cases leave no room for dining inside, with the short time to take in all its secrets and details adding to its mysticism. Make no mistake, this is one of the most magical, awe-inspiring designs of any retail or dining location on Disney property.
The warm, inviting presence instituted by the location's cast members cannot go without mention. I have found on each of my trips to the shop that the biggest standout was how talkative, friendly and passionate the crew there was. It all beckons back to Gideon's local roots, and they make the perfect case as to why Disney should continue to bring small businesses into its dining and retail locations. They perfectly exemplify what it means to be a cast member, and they are what truly makes Gideon's Bakehouse so special.
The Greatest Cookies of All Time
But undoubtedly, what everyone surely wants to know is if the gigantic cookies are really worth the hype, and if they are truly as good as they look.
There is no wait time or line that could deter me from returning to Gideon's Bakehouse on a regular basis. Everything on the menu must be tried, and it's nearly impossible to say what item is truly best because they all stand atop the podium of outstanding Disney snacks and desserts. The morning-exclusive coffee cake cookie is a cinnamon-swirl dream, while the pistachio toffee is a flawless balance of sweet and savory. The cookies are perfectly baked. They are soft and gooey on the inside while still remaining firm on the outside. They do not need to be warmed before digging in, a testament to the ingenuity of their design. They are as decadent as any sweet in Walt Disney World Resort, and as good as any dessert I have ever had, on or off property.
On top of an already-stacked menu that also includes overwhelmingly large cake slices, Gideon's Bakehouse offers limited-time, holiday-themed cookies. During the grand opening we were able to try the Frankenstein Cookie—a Halloween staple filled with chocolate chips and Oreo Double Stuff, topped with Oreo crumbs and M&M's—and it was immediately a favorite.
Still, few words can truly do Gideon's Bakehouse justice. It deserves every rave review it gets and then some; this is one of Disney's very best dining locations. While I could write a novel about how much I adore Gideon's Bakehouse, I'll instead leave you with this sentiment: do everything in your power to get in that virtual queue and experience Gideon's Bakehouse for yourself.