I had long heard how beautiful and delicious the celebration cakes created at Walt Disney World are, but until recently, had never ordered one of the special confections. My son celebrated his birthday at Walt Disney World a few weeks ago and I decided to surprise him with a custom cake. Because our family was staying at the Caribbean Beach hotel, our order was handled by the Boardwalk Bakery.
Custom cakes have to be ordered at least 48 hours in advance in most cases, and it is recommended that orders not be placed more than three weeks ahead of time. I began the process by calling the cake hotline at 407-827-2253, which connected me to cast member who was eager to help me design a cake that would wow my son.
First, I had to determine the size of the cake. With just our immediate family of four partaking, it didn't have to be big. Guests, however, can choose from a 6-inch round cake (serves 5), an 8-inch round cake (serves 8), a 10-inch cake (serves16), quarter sheet cake (serves 10-12), half sheet cake (serves 50) and full sheet cake (serves 100). I was advised that the chef would need an 8-inch cake for the design I was considering.
Cake flavors vary by location, though we were not looking for anything exotic for an 11-year-old boy. I ordered a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling.
And then the really fun part began -- designing the look of the cake. The cast member suggested that I send her photos of what I might like, and she could find out if the chef could replicate it and give me a price quote. I was prepared for her request because I had Googled Walt Disney World custom cakes the night before and spent a happy hour gazing at the amazing desserts.
Many of the Disney World cakes that feature characters are created by printing a two-dimensional image that is then either laid flat or propped upright on the top. This is great if you want to include a photo of the recipient. But I really wanted the characters on my son's cake to be three-dimensional, which meant I had two choices: bring my own figures to place on the cake or choose a character shaped in solid white chocolate. I chose a white chocolate Stitch, which would have a matching scroll-like piece for the Happy Birthday message.
To achieve the bright, tropical colors and accents associated with Lilo and Stitch, I decided to have the cake covered in a smooth blue fondant, rather than the typical buttercream icing or whipped frosting. My son had never tasted fondant, so I wasn't sure if he would like it, but I knew it would enhance the appearance. (For the record: The fondant wasn't his favorite, but it didn't detract from his love of the cake. He tried it and then focused on eating the inside, which also had the buttercream filling.)
In my online perusal of Disney World's cakes, I found that some of the most amazing are sculpted "Mad Hatter" cakes. These are quite expensive, but you can get the basic look without the over-the-top price and multiple layers because Disney chefs are willing to use elements from the cakes and incorporate them in other designs. That's how I found the look I wanted for my son's Stitch cake. I asked that the surfboards and flat flowers be created in red and yellow, rather than the pink and orange I saw on a girl's cake. The chef also duplicated the fondant roping at the base of the cake.
So, what did the cake of my son's dreams cost? It was $32 for the basic 8-inch custom cake; $30 for the fondant covering the cake and the cutout surfboards and flowers; and $30 for the white chocolate Stitch figure for a total of $92 plus tax. It was by far the most expensive cake I've ever ordered or eaten since my wedding day, but it also was *exactly* what I envisioned.
Having never ordered a custom cake at Disney World, I was unsure if the cake would look like what I pictured, especially when I was asking for modifications. I honestly can say the cake exceeded my expectations, and my son was thrilled. Truly, if you can dream it, they can do it.
Here are a few tips if you choose to order a custom cake at Walt Disney World:
** The more detail you can provide the better the chances you will be happy with the finished cake. Photos and even sketches can help chefs bring your creation to life. Spend some time looking at Disney World cakes online, taking screenshots that you can email with your order.
** Disney underestimates the number of guests each cake will feed. Our 8-inch cake supposedly would be enough for eight people. We easily had enough for 14-16 people, and those were normal size pieces, not small ones. So, if you are deciding between two sizes, the smaller might work for you. We were able to refrigerate our leftover cake, and it tasted fresh for many days.
** If a custom cake is not in your budget, Walt Disney World offers many other options, including cakes that are available upon request at most table-service restaurants.
** The Disney Food Blog has answers to many frequently asked cake questions.
The previous post in this blog was Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party is a delicious way to view Wishes fireworks.
The next post in this blog is SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular brings treats to theme park.