I visited Gideon's Bakehouse, a gothic-themed bakery, at Disney Springs this past August.
The cookies that I ordered became the highlight of my trip; I'd say they're the best I've ever had.
Here's what it's like to eat at the must-visit Florida dessert shop.
Gideon's Bakehouse is a gothic dessert shop that opened in Disney Springs at the start of 2021.
Steve Lewis, the creator of Gideon's Bakery, was inspired to open a shop after buying an 1898 cookbook at an estate sale in the early 2000s.
The book's margins were "filled with faded notes and doodles" from a boy named Gideon who seemingly had dreams of becoming a baker, according to the Gideon's website. Lewis then decided to "fulfill that child's wishes," and first opened a store at Florida's East End Market in 2016.
When I arrived at the shop in mid-August, Disney Springs was empty and the doors to Gideon's Bakehouse were closed.
Prior to my trip, I'd read tons of articles and watched numerous videos about how busy Gideon's Bakehouse can get.
I heard that it was best to arrive for the store's opening, so I pulled into Disney Spring's Orange lot around 8:55 a.m., passed through the security checkpoint, and began looking for the bakery.
Disney Springs was essentially a ghost town that early in the morning — I only passed a few employees and some flocks of birds.
As the first person in line, I was able to sit on a cement ledge that lined the store.
I was relieved to have a seat, as I planned to wait a full hour before the bakery opened and it was already pretty hot in Florida.
There were also rope barricades in front of the wall, so I knew it was only a matter of time before others showed up.
A crowd started forming about 10 minutes after I arrived, and everyone seemed excited to enter the bakery.
By 9:45 a.m., I had counted approximately 35 people waiting in line. I assumed many were there early to get their hands on the coffee-cake cookie, which is sold only at the Disney Springs location each morning until they run out.
A few minutes before the store opened, Gideon's employees came outside to hand out menus, answer questions, and share what cake flavors were being sold that day.
Of course, you can use the Gideon's Bakehouse website and Instagram page to prepare for a visit, but having a physical menu really helped narrow down my order.
The menus also doubled as souvenir postcards printed with one of Gideon's mascots, Signore Pipistrello, which I loved.
We were led into the store approximately six minutes early. Right away, I was in awe of the tiny bakery.
My eyes were immediately drawn to the art gallery that lined the left wall of the store.
I loved how unique each character drawing was, and the standout atmosphere made it clear that Gideon's Bakehouse is unlike any other bakery you might visit.
I took a brief pause to look around and let my eyes adjust to the shop's dark atmosphere. Then I quickly made my way over to the register.
The employees were extremely nice, in my experience, and told the customers to enjoy themselves and look around. I noticed a small merchandise section to the left where you could buy candles, shirts, and more, and registers against the wall in the store's center.
There, I found Gideon's famous cookies arranged inside glass cases along the register.
According to the Gideon's Bakehouse website, its cookies are handmade each day in small batches. They retail for $6 each, which is a bargain in my opinion when you consider that each weighs nearly half a pound.
I had already planned my order while waiting in line — you're limited to six cookies per person — but the display desserts made me reconsider. I wished I could have ordered one of everything.
There were also giant cakes to show you what slices you could buy.
Gideon's typically sells red-velvet cake and other rotating flavors, including some secret-menu options. Each slice costs $9, and cakes take approximately 24 hours to prepare.
I wanted to keep my focus on the shop's cookies, so I only planned to buy one slice of cake, but they all made my mouth water.
By that point, I couldn't wait another minute to place my order.
I ordered an original chocolate-chip cookie, a slice of red-velvet cake, a pistachio-toffee cookie, and a coffee-cake cookie for the purpose of this review.
Luckily my dad was with me and wanted some desserts of his own, so I also got to try a few other flavors, like the peanut-butter crunch, triple-chocolate, and rocky-road cookies.
The cookies were packed into fancy boxes and stacked with paper in between to keep them from melting together.
I was eager to try the desserts fresh, but unfortunately, there are no tables and chairs outside of Gideon's.
That being said, finding a place to stop wasn't much of a problem. I walked a few steps around the corner of the store and found another cement ledge where I could place my food and enjoy a few bites.
I knew the fan-favorite cookies would be large, but I was still surprised at how truly massive they are.
Each cookie was close to being the size of my face, and they weighed a hefty amount too. That being said, I found that it was almost easier — and definitely less messy — to break pieces off the cookies rather than to bite them directly.
My favorite cookies by far were the pistachio-toffee and coffee-cake versions.
The pistachio cookie made for the perfect combination of salty and sweet flavors, while the coffee-cake option tasted better than any crumb cake I've ever had.
In my opinion, the latter cookie alone is worth an early-morning trip to the bakery. It'd be perfect to pair with coffee or your breakfast.
I also loved the classic chocolate-chip and triple-chocolate cookies.
While it's difficult to mess up a chocolate-chip cookie, Gideon's has perfected the recipe, in my opinion. They're coated in dozens of chocolate chips and the perfect amount of salt, while the cookie itself almost tastes like soft dough out of the fridge.
I also loved the triple-chocolate option. It was also cake-like in texture, with distinct flavors of different chocolate mixed in. The sea salt on top added the perfect balance of extra flavor and prevented the cookie from being too sweet.
The peanut butter and rocky-road cookies weren't my favorites, but I can't deny that they're still delicious.
I only like to eat peanut butter in small doses, so I knew I wouldn't love Gideon's cookie that's covered in peanut-butter chips. Still, the few bites I had were pretty delicious, and my dad — who's a huge peanut butter fan — devoured the entire cookie right away.
Then there was the rocky-road cookie, which was a limited-edition release for August. We both agreed that it was good, but a bit forgettable when compared to the others we tried.
There are a few things I'd wished I'd known before my trip.
As I ate my way through the selection of gourmet cookies, I found myself feeling extremely thirsty. And because we were eating in the Florida sun, the cookies began to melt and chocolate was getting everywhere. In the future, I'd be sure to bring water and wet hand wipes with me.
We also got some tips from an employee, who kindly approached us to ask how we were as we ate outside. She said that Mondays through Thursdays are the best times to visit, especially in the mid-afternoon and back-to-school season when crowds are low.
If you visit on a weekend, however, she noted that you should be prepared to wait in a virtual line for up to four hours.
I saved the cake for when I got back to my hotel room. It was the only thing from Gideon's that I didn't love.
After I cooled off and gave myself some time to digest all the cookies I ate, I decided it was time to try Gideon's red-velvet cake. Unfortunately, it tasted a bit dry, in my opinion, and the flavor wasn't sweet enough for my liking.
Still, my dad said he would "order it again in a heartbeat," and he's not usually a fan of red velvet. So I'd say it's still worth a try.
Before visiting Disney World over the summer, I had spent months following Gideon's Bakehouse on Instagram and dreaming of trying its famous cookies. I was worried that they wouldn't live up to my expectations, but they far exceeded them in the end.
The half-pound desserts were delicious and fairly priced, in my opinion, and the process to buy them was unique and fun. I loved them so much that the next time I visit Disney World, I plan to dedicate a day to visiting Disney Springs with a stop at Gideon's first thing in the morning.
But for now, I'll just keep recommending the bakery to fellow travelers, and daydream about the time when I can visit again.
Read the original article on Insider