Would you wait 11 hours for a cookie? A whole lot of people did in January, when a small Florida bakery opened a new location at Disney Springs, Walt Disney World’s shopping, dining and entertainment district.
Gideon’s Bakehouse and its legendary half-pound cookies have enjoyed a cult following for years among Central Florida locals and Disney fans in the know. But the small business, opened in 2016 with an $800 budget and just one employee, landed itself national attention with the grand opening of its Disney Springs outpost on Jan. 16. So many guests clamored to get their hands on Gideon’s gigantic cookies on opening day that the virtual queue was capped at 11 hours just an hour after opening.
GRATITUDE POST! Our Grand Opening at @disneysprings was beyond imagination. Thanks to everyone that came out to…
So what makes Gideon’s cookies worth the 11-hour wait? Steve Lewis, Gideon’s Bakehouse owner and aptly titled “Sublime Prince of the Esoteric Order of Cookie,” says he spent 15 years tinkering with the recipe for his signature original chocolate chip cookie, which is handmade from scratch with vanilla bean and a variety of chocolates and takes more than a full day to make.
“Part of why the cookie takes over 24 hours to prepare is to give the vanilla bean time to infuse with the dough,” Lewis says. “It is then frozen before baking to allow for maximum vanilla penetration. If you’re going to use that much chocolate, you have to push the vanilla to keep things balanced.”
The surface of each massive cookie, weighing in at just shy of half a pound, is packed with chocolate chips. More chips fill the soft and chewy interior, which is intended to mimic the texture of cookie dough.
Gideon’s Bakehouse Flavors
As you’d expect after a 15-year labor of love, Lewis talks about his cookies like children when I ask about his favorites.
“There is a cookie for every mood,” he says, but he’s willing to single out a couple.
Lewis describes the coffee cake cookie, shown in the Gideon’s Bakehouse Facebook post below, as “a love letter” to his New York Italian family. “It’s prepared in layers, filled with butter, and is simple yet complex,” he says, and recommends it paired with a Ginger Snap Cold Brew coffee.
The final addition to our 365 Cookie menu for Gideon’s at @DisneySprings is your favorite and ours … the Coffee Cake…
A fan favorite from the original location, the pistachio toffee chocolate chip is “the locals’ cookie,” he says, but it’s been rapidly adopted by Disney Springs customers as their own.
A peek into the Gideon’s at @DisneySprings menu continues with our most sophisticated Cookie, the Pistachio Toffee…
The menu also features a range of indulgent cake slices in rotating flavors like red velvet, peanut butter cup and Andes mint cookies & cream cake, as well as nitro cold brew coffee in flavors like the aforementioned ginger snap and the original peanut butter cold brew, which is developing a cult following of its own.
An evening Hot Cookie Hour, held nightly at 7 p.m., gives guests the opportunity to try a classic chocolate chip cookie right from the oven, served with or without homemade ice cream.
How Hard Is It to Get A Gideon’s Cookie?
Gideon’s cookies were a hot commodity at Disney Springs long before the new bakeshop opened. Many Disney fans were first introduced to the cookies via The Polite Pig, a barbecue outpost at Disney Springs. The Polite Pig used to sell a small batch of Gideon’s Chocolate Chip cookies twice a day, brought in from the bakeshop’s original East End Market location, to clamoring devotees, but stopped selling the cookies just ahead of the announcement of the new Disney Springs location.
After pent-up demand culminated in that whopping 11-hour wait for the grand opening, crowds at Disney Springs have thinned out a bit. But, with average virtual queue waits typically ranging from one to three hours, you’ll still have to put in your time to get your hands on the coveted cookies, and you’ll have to make the trip to Orlando to do it — Gideon’s doesn’t ship their baked goods. Guests can sign up in person for the virtual queue at the Disney Springs shop.
Gideon’s does ship candles inspired by their famous baked treats though, so if you can’t make it to Disney World just yet, you can order a cookie-scented candle to stoke your hunger for the real thing.
Since 2020 was a big year for comfort food, I asked Lewis if he thinks the challenges of the past year played a role in the runaway success of Gideon’s Bakehouse’s 2021 grand opening at Disney World.
“2020 was a challenging year for just about everyone,” Lewis says. “There’s a comfort to homemade food that makes all the troubles disappear, if only for a few bites. Coming to Gideon’s is like coming to my house to enjoy the food I’ve prepared for you. I think people feel that sense of welcome, and it makes Gideon’s the perfect escapism.”