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We tried (and ranked) the 8 best Dole Whips at Walt Disney World

Like everything at Disney World, Dole Whips have evolved since their 1984 debut.
The Dole Whip was introduced in 1983 — and Disney picked it up shortly thereafter.
The Dole Whip was introduced in 1983 — and Disney picked it up shortly thereafter.Courtesy Terri Peters
/ Source: TODAY

They're fruity, sweet and the perfect snack on a hot day in a Walt Disney World theme park, but since they appeared in Disney parks in the '80s, Dole Whips have been constantly evolving.

Sure, purists may enjoy the treat in its simplest form — a single fruit flavor of soft-serve goodness swirled into a cup — but today, Dole Whips come in all varieties and are topped with everything from exploding popping candy to chocolate chips.

Pineapple-flavored Dole Whips first appeared in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in 1984 and since then, Disney's arsenal of Dole Whip flavors and varieties has continued to grow. Today, Dole Whips can be enjoyed at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa in Hawaii and aboard Disney Cruise Line.

But … what exactly is a Dole Whip?

Stuart McAllister, vice president of sales and marketing for Dole packaged food, said, put simply, a Dole Whip is is a "true-to-fruit" flavored soft serve that comes in nine different flavors: mango, lemon, orange, raspberry, strawberry, lime, cherry, watermelon and, of course, pineapple.

The delicious frozen treats are also dairy-free, vegan, low-fat, gluten-free, lactose-free and cholesterol-free, making them a fit for almost any diet.

So, how did Disney and Dole Whip form this inextricable bond?

"Dole has a long-term strategic relationship with Disney as the sponsor partner of the Tiki Room at Disneyland since 1976," McAllister told TODAY Food. "Dole Whip was introduced in 1983 and Disney picked up the pineapple flavor shortly thereafter in both parks. Today, Dole Whip is offered throughout the parks in various flavors, in beverages and with fruit toppings such as mandarin oranges and mango."

I recently headed to Walt Disney World Resort to try some of the varieties of Dole Whips that are currently available. My family and I taste tested Dole Whips in WDW parks, resorts and at the Disney Springs shopping and dining area and rated the desserts on everything from appearance to taste, then ranked the eight varieties we sampled, from our least to most favorite.

8. Sunshine Tree Terrace: Dole Whip Strawberry Cup

Some Dole Whip flavors are rarer than others, so when you stumble upon flavors like strawberry, it's a good idea to try them while you can.Courtesy Terri Peters

Strawberry Dole Whip can be hard to find, so if it's on your must-try list, it's a good idea to grab a cup while you're inside Magic Kingdom Park.

This flavor, available at Sunshine Tree Terrace, wasn't my family's favorite Dole Whip variety, but, of course, taste is subjective, and it's definitely worth trying each flavor to find your own top pick.

$4.99 at Sunshine Tree Terrace, Magic Kingdom Park

7. Tamu Tamu Refreshments: Simba Sunset

This Simba Sunset Dole Whip is served at Tamu Tamu Refreshments inside Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park.Terri Peters

When you've finished checking out the real lions on safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, there's a perfect desert to end your adventure: the Simba Sunset Dole Whip.

This pineapple Dole Whip, served at Tamu Tamu Refreshments, is topped with watermelon, strawberry and coconut-flavored syrups, making it appear fiery and colorful like a Kilimanjaro Safaris sunset.

While put simply, this treat is a dressed up pineapple Dole Whip, the colorful fruit syrups are a nice addition, if only to give the snack beautiful coloring.

Pro tip: Grab a few spoons for this one, as the larger serving size makes it perfect for sharing.

$5.49 at Tamu Tamu Refreshments, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

6. Aloha Aisle: Coconut Cup

This coconut and pineapple swirl Dole Whip is available at Aloha Aisle in Magic Kingdom Park.Terri Peters

Pineapple Dole Whip is a classic flavor, but we enjoyed this spin on the original, in which coconut soft serve is swirled with pineapple Dole Whip to create a tropical combination worth trying on your next visit to Magic Kingdom Park.

If you've never tried pineapple Dole Whip, we recommend trying the original first. But, if you're looking for something a bit different, adding coconut to the mix is a worthwhile experiment on your next stop at Aloha Aisle.

$4.99 at Aloha Aisle, Magic Kingdom Park

5. Sunshine Tree Terrace: I Lava You Float

This colorful Dole Whip literally pops in your mouth!Terri Peters

Made with orange Dole Whip, strawberry soda and passion fruit flavor, this I Lava You float is the perfect combination of fizzy soda and smooth soft serve.

But what really makes this beautiful treat explode with flavor is the popping candy on top: I assumed the little red crystals would have lost some of their power from being exposed to the Dole Whip, but was pleased to find they popped in my mouth the same as they would straight from the package.

Fun fact: This Dole Whip float, sold at Sunshine Tree Terrace, is inspired by the Pixar Short "Lava," a short film about a lonely volcano looking for someone to love.

$6.99 at Sunshine Tree Terrace, Magic Kingdom Park

4. Aloha Aisle: Kakamora Float with Tiki Sipper

Ride the "Moana" wave with this adorable Dole Whip float, available inside Magic Kingdom Park.Terri Peters

Whether you're a fan of the film "Moana" or just a lover of Disney treats, this float, available at Aloha Aisle, is one of the best uses of Dole Whip we've seen.

Coconut soft serve is combined with pineapple juice and blue curaçao syrup to create this colorful (and slurp-able) snack. And, those feisty Kakamora from "Moana" make an appearance in the form of a chocolaty cake-pop topper.

This Dole Whip received praise from everyone in my family. My kids enjoyed the refreshing flavors in the pineapple juice, blue syrup and coconut soft serve, while my husband thought the chocolate cake pop was the perfect size for a sugary afternoon pick-me-up. For me, the cherry on top of this dessert was the nod to a Disney animated film character.

$6.99 at Aloha Aisle, Magic Kingdom Park

3. Trilo-Bites: Trilobites Twist

Vanilla ice cream gets some dino-green coloring in this special Dole Whip.Terri Peters

Come for the orange and vanilla swirl, stay because this vanilla soft serve is … green.

Located at the entrance to Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Trilo-Bites serves up a swirl of orange Dole Whip and vanilla soft serve. But since this is a dino-themed area of the park, the vanilla soft serve has a uniquely Jurassic appearance.

We loved the creamsicle flavor of this orange-vanilla combo and really got a kick out of the wild green color of the vanilla soft serve. Not only was this snack the perfect way to consume orange Dole Whip, but it was also one of the most on-point treats we tried when it came to theming.

$4.99 at Trilo-Bites, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

2. Marketplace Snacks: Dole Whip Watermelon Parfait

Oh, Mickey, you're so fine ... in watermelon form.Terri Peters

It's refreshing. It's pink. It comes with a Mickey-shaped watermelon.

Proving that anything Mickey-shaped tastes better, this watermelon Dole Whip parfait, available at Disney Springs from Marketplace Snacks, is pink perfection.

We loved everything about this sweet treat, from the way the crunchy chocolate chips accentuated the sweetness of the watermelon Dole Whip to the smooth Key lime custard lining the bottom of the cup.

And yes, we fought over who would get to eat that cute, Mickey-shaped piece of watermelon.

$5.29 at Marketplace Snacks, Disney Springs

1. Pineapple Lanai: Lime Dole Whip

The secret to Pineapple Lanai's delicious Dole Whips may be the Tajin chili lime seasoning they provide as a topping.Terri Peters

Maybe it's the tangy and refreshing lime flavoring or maybe it's the packets of Tajin chile-lime seasoning Pineapple Lanai provides guests to sprinkle onto their Dole Whips. Whatever the reason, there's nothing better than a lime Dole Whip sprinkled with Tajin on a hot day at Walt Disney World Resort.

As I've said, when it comes to Dole Whip flavors, individual preferences will vary. Still, the lime Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort wins number one on my list.

The good news is, with Dole Whips always changing and evolving, you get to make your own sweet list on your next trip to Disney.

$4.99 at Pineapple Lanai, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort