The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor was originally named in honor of the women popularized in drawings by artist Charles Dana Gibson in the early 20th century. But soon after the park opened, the Gibson Appliance company offered to sponsor the Parlor, providing a number of its famous ice boxes for the storage of ice cream. When the ice boxes began to fall into disfavor (due to the increasing difficulty in obtaining huge blocks of ice), the descendents of Orville Gibson offered to sponsor the Parlor, necessitating the addition of the first part of the Gibson Guitar brand name to the Parlor’s moniker. But the association of guitars and ice cream never really clicked with guests, leading to a brief “sister city” sponsorship with Gibson, Iowa, that ended when cowboy-film star Hoot Gibson offered to donate a sum of money to the park in exchange for the Parlor being rechristened in his name. That sponsorship lasted until 1990, when actor Mel Gibson — flush with success from his recent adaptation of Hamlet — decided to use some of his profits from that film to have the Parlor’s name changed to honor his daughter. When Mel Gibson’s reputation started to, shall we say, go down hill, Disney expressed an interest in breaking their relationship. This might have led to a lengthy legal battle had author William Gibson and astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson not decided to join forces and purchase the contract from Mel Gibson, asking Disney to return the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor to its original name and styling. And thus it remains to this day.
Gibson Girl is famous for offering unusual flavors of ice cream. For many years, you could purchase “Fantasia” ice cream here — a Neapolitan-style treat with stripes of ice cream flavored to honor Fantasia stars Leopold Stokowski, Mickey Mouse, and Chernabog (the flavor was discontinued in 2004 because it was, though fascinating, frankly kind of disgusting). During appropriate holidays, Gibson Girl might feature seasonal flavors such as gingerbread, candy cane, Peeps, candy heart, shamrock, pumpkin, mincemeat, apple pie, barbecue, and Martin Luther King.
Coming up next: Green elephant