Dueling Disney: Dole Whip vs Citrus Swirl

Written by Jeff Heimbuch. Posted in Disney, Disney History, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Dueling Disney, Features, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

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Published on November 06, 2013 at 3:00 am with 26 Comments

Children and adults from around the world flock to Disney parks every day. Most of the time, the weather in the American parks tends to be on the warmer side, which often produces the desire for a refreshing treat.

Both resorts are home to an amazing confection known as the Dole Whip. However only in Walt Disney World can you satisfy your craving for a Citrus Swirl. For the purposes of today’s debate, Disneyland will lay claim to the Dole Whip, as Keith and Jeff attempt to convince you which treat is superior!

(As usual, Keith is representing Disneyland, while Jeff represents Walt Disney World)

Topic 21: Dole Whip vs. Citrus Swirl

Jeff: If there is something that people love most, it’s nostalgia. And when nostalgia comes into play, all bets are off. Regardless of how it may have been, people remember things a certain way, and that’s that. Good, bad, or indifferent, nostalgia always wins. But there are sometimes that, even in the most unlikely of circumstances, the nostalgia turns out to be true. And there is no better example of this than the return of the Citrus Swirl at Walt Disney World.

Keith: Even the greatest creative genius of all time loved nostalgia.

I love the nostalgic myself. I hope we never lose some of the things of the past.” ~ Walt Disney

The scrumdiddliumcious Dole Whip has had no such “return”, because it is so good, Disney would never dare do away with it in the first place. Dole Whips debuted in Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom back in 1976, when Dole began sponsoring both the Enchanted Tiki Room and the Tiki Juice bar. The little thatched-roof snack shack is also home to delicious pineapple juice and spears, but the non-dairy pineapple-flavored soft serve has been a guest favorite since day one.

Some adventurous folks even add a little pineapple juice to their Whips and call ‘em Dole Whip Floats! Don’t try to wrap your brain around that, Jeff. It’s science.


Jeff: Ours went away, but for a good reason. Sort of. Allow me to explain a bit…

You see, back when Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the Sunshine Tree Terrace in Adventureland was a huge hit. It was sponsored by the Florida Citrus Growers (or the FCG, as the cool kids call it). Their mascot was the one and only Orange Bird, a much beloved mascot that was seen both inside the Park AND outside during promotional appearances. The lovely little bird even had its own song and storybook, narrated by Anita Bryant. the song will stick in your head forever if you listen to it, so be sure to give it a whirl.

Anyway, with all this, the greatest treat to be found at the Sunshine Tree Terrace was the Citrus Swirl. Sure, you could get an old fashioned glass of Orange Juice to quench your thirst, but that couldn’t be enough. No, you needed a combination of vanilla soft serve and “orange slush” (in other words, frozen orange juice), which was also in float form. This delicious concoction was known as the Citrus Swirl.

Named after famed explorer Julius Swirl, who discovered the orange in 1843, the citrus swirl was enjoyed by guests for years until it went away when the FCG did not renew their sponsorship with Disney. It was forever lost to time (and space), until it was brought back for the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World.


Keith: The pineapple received its English name thanks to its resemblance to a pine cone. It is actually native to South America, and Christopher Columbus brought it back to Europe with him as a treasure from the New World. Centuries later, sailors brought the pineapple home to New England, and they placed the fruit on their porch as an indication that they were home and available to receive guests.

While we know the Hawaiian name for the exotic treat (halakahiki, which actually translates to “foreign fruit”), no one is certain as to when it made its first appearance in the tropical paradise. In the early 1800s, an adviser to King Kamehameha (recognize that name, Disneyland fans?) was able to successfully cultivate the fruit. Captain John Kidwell is the man credited with founding Hawaii’s pineapple industry, but James Drummond Dole is the man who made the fruit a household staple.

I must admit my American History is a little rusty, and I’m not entirely up to speed on this “Julius Swirl” fellow. However I am confident that if Swirl and Dole ever came face to face, Dole would take off his white glove, slap Swirl across the face with it, and sashay back to his cannery as Swirl gently sobbed.

Jeff: You do not know of Julius Swirl? How dare you, sir. Go read a book. A lot of people mistake the phrase as “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” but in actuality, it is really “Dr. Swirl, there you are!” Very common mistake. Happens all the time.

Regardless, the citrus swirl was accidentally discovered one day when Queen Elizabeth II was being served her soft serve vanilla ice cream. One of the servants mistakenly dropped an orange slice into it, and fearing the wrath of the Queen, who wanted her ice cream pure as the driven snow, mashed up the orange slice into a type of slush, and tried to conceal it with more ice cream. When the Queen was served this dish, she was onto the deception right away. She took one bite, said “Mmmmm…orange-y!” and declared the treat as Vanilla Soft Serve and Orange-y Mush. Dessert makers later renamed it to the now common name of the citrus swirl.

And how did the citrus swirl make it to Walt Disney World you may ask? Well, I’ll get to that in a second.


Bonus points: name the hidden Disney legend in this photo.

Keith: James Drummond Dole took his Harvard degrees in both business and agriculture to Hawaii in 1899. A year after his arrival he purchased a 61-acre tract of land in Wahiawa, on the island of Oahu. The high-tech process of canning food had recently been perfected, and in 1901, Dole opened the first pineapple cannery on his newly acquired land. Years later, the cannery was relocated to Honolulu for its proximity to the labor pool and shipping ports. The Honolulu cannery, at one time the largest in the world, remained in operation until 1991.

While the pineapple was considered an appealing fruit, many Westerners were unsure how to utilize it. Dole teamed up with other pineapple distributors in Hawaii in order to create national interest in the exotic treat. The plan worked, and thanks to nationally distributed advertising campaigns, canned pineapple soon found itself in American cupboards everywhere.

The boom of the pineapple meant Dole needed more land for harvesting. In 1922 he purchased the Hawaiian Island of Lana`i, and soon turned it into the largest pineapple plantation in the world. For close to 70 years, Lana`i was responsible for more than 75% of the world’s pineapple. The popularity of the pineapple increased over the years, and by the 1940s a total of eight pineapple companies were in operation. Dole’s was by far the largest, employing 3,000 permanent employees, 4,000 seasonal employees, and churning out over 200,000 tons of pineapple a year.

I took your advice, Jeff, and read a book. It turns out that Dole and Swirl met on several occasions, often engaging in dignified competition such as polo, croquet, or spirited bouts of name-calling. Dole was almost always the victor, which aids in reiterating just how superior the Dole Whip is to the Citrus Swirl.

Jeff: I’m pretty sure you made that statistic up. In fact, I ask…nay, demand, to see said book. I’m pretty sure it’s all lies. LIES.

Speaking of lies, just how did the Citrus Swirl make it to Walt Disney World? Well, you see, while Walt was planning for EPCOT (the city, not the theme park), he stumbled upon a book filled with ancient recipes, passed down from generation to generation. Within the pages of this book was the secret dessert that Queen Elizabeth II discovered. Walt took the book home one day to make it for himself. He loved it so much that he declared the would serve this treat to people who visited his theme parks, and even then, only to those who visited the East Coast park.

The dessert was to be the official dessert of EPCOT (the city, not the theme park), and so, he decided to test out people’s reactions to it by having it served in the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, Walt passed before he could see the delight people experienced in having the citrus swirl. As mentioned, when the FCG left the Magic Kingdom, they took the recipe with them. Fortunately, years later, it was found buried in a box in a closet in the Carousel of Progress, which is why we can enjoy them again today.

Keith: “Marty called, wants citrus.”

While this has been a fun duel, I just hope that you good folks enjoyed learning a little history behind the amazingly delicious dessert that ended up in the Disney parks. For the record, I absolutely love the Citrus Swirl. Orange is actually my favorite fruit. However as Jeff alluded to in his opening statement, sometimes nostalgia just flat-out trumps reality. For me Dole Whips will always be synonymous with growing up Disney, and no amount of orange-flavored anything can replace that.

For those who didn’t know, if you’re the first one in line at the Tiki Juice bar in the morning, and you purchase a Dole Whip, you are entitled to a special “First Dole Whip of the Day” button. If they don’t automatically hand it to you, be sure to ask for one!

Pineapples truly are the king of all fruit. Dole plants and harvests each one by hand, and the first crop planted can take up to twenty months to be ready for harvest. A lot of work, time, and skill go into cultivating these little spiked beauties. And as the Dole Company likes to say, “The wait is worth it.”

James Drummond Dole: 1, Julius Swirl: 0.

What do you guys think? Which refreshing treat is “the one soft-serve to rule them all?” Sound off in the comments below!

Dueling Disney is written by Keith Gluck and Jeff Heimbuch

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

You can follow us on Twitter: @DisneyProject and @JeffHeimbuch

About Jeff Heimbuch

Jeff has been in love with all things Disney since a very early age. He writes From The Mouth Of The Mouse and The 626 every week for MiceChat. He also collaborates on The Disney Review every weekend. Aside from that, he is one half of the devastatingly good looking duo of the weekly vid/podcast Communicore Weekly (the other half being fellow MiceChat columnist George Taylor), which you can find at www.communicoreweekly.com Jeff is also writing a book with former Imagineer and Disney Legend, Rolly Crump. You can find out more about the book at www.itskindofacutestory.com

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  • LoveStallion

    When I saw the title of this article I thought, “Ah, the boys have really run the gamut of worthwhile discussions, so we’re finally on DOLE WHIPS of all things.”

    However, I really appreciate the research you did on both products. This was less a battle and more an information piece, and it benefited from it.

  • eicarr

    Is this a joke? As part of the Tkiki Room… Pineapple tastes better and is associated with Polonesia . Increasingly, oranges come mainly from Latin America, and the ones that come from Florida are associated with Anita Bryant.

    • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

      Yes. Laugh a little. Jeff and Keith always fill their articles with a lot of humor.

      Though, I’ve got to say, there’s nothing funny about Anita Bryant. She was a wretched person in real life who caused a lot of pain and suffering to those she disagreed with.

  • jcruise86

    Jeff and Keith are obviously trying to tell Dusty,
    “We’re out of topics here. Send us to Tokyo, Hong, and Paris and put us up at all the hotels and eat at all of the restaurants so we can contrast them. Let us ride all the Disney Cruise Ships to all their locations and fly to to every location so we can contrast every airline’s first class section.” (Jeff & Keith, if Micechat falls for this, you’re welcome.)

  • gboiler1

    Someday I need to try one of those treats…maybe in Disneyland next summer!

    And Rolly Crump is the hidden Disney Legend in the photo.

  • SpectroMan

    I see Rolly Crump….

  • wicked82

    Dole Whip all the way!!

    Thank you fellas for a delightful treat (article)!!

  • Illusion0fLife

    I love both of them dearly, but I’ve got to give the edge to the Citrus Swirl here. It has exclusivity going for it, plus it has a spiffy mascot.

  • PecosBill

    I am not a fan of the Citrus Swirl @ Sunshine Tree Terrace it is to acidic. But I do like the Orange Swirl Dole Soft Serve offered at Aloha Isle.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    The Citrus Swirl edges out the Dole Whip for me.

  • Susan Hughes

    I’ve never seen a citrus swirl t-shirt being sold in the parks. So the winner has got to be the Dole whip. They’ve made it on to merchandising in the stores.

  • DobbysCloset

    Dobby loves these foodie columns! I have never had either treat. I have never even been to WDW… The Whip sounds dangerous and exciting, reminding me of Indiana Jones. The Swirl sounds peaceful and relaxing. I suppose if either were dropped, Dobby would thoroughly enjoy them. Not that they are good for dogs…

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Part of the thing I love about the Dole Whip is the setting. You enter to wait for the Tiki Room and there in the shaded area, you can have a cold refreshing bit of Pineapple whip. It just feels right. If this was just sold at the hub or in Tomorrowland, it would not feel as refreshing.

    Now I have been to WDW many time, but the Tiki Room there does not have the same outside waiting area. They do have the pre-show with the line, but it cannot be said to be relaxing. I did not see where to order the citrus Swirl, so I cannot comment on the taste, but the atmosphere is just so different, I cannot say I would enjoy it as much as a relaxing break in the afternoon eating a Dole Whip at Disneyland.

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      You can get Citrus Swirls at the Sunshine Tree Terrace, you pass right by it when exiting the Tiki Room show (it’s on your immediate left literally as you walk through the ext doors).

    • Buffett Fan

      But, if you get a Dole Whip (with free refills) at Capt. Cook’s and enjoy it poolside at the Polynesian…..

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I love me some Citrus Swirl. But I should let you know that you could still get them at WDW back in 2007. I personally got one in November of that year. They did go away for awhile but they came back sooner than the 40th anniversary.

    But I also love me some Dole Whip. And WDW has the ONLY self-serve Dole Whip machine on Disney property: at Capt Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort.

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  • steve2wdw

    I always loved the Dole Whip, but found the tartness of the swirl more to my liking. Like em both, but if I had to choose only one, I’d go for the citrus swirl!