Best Restau­rant: Rain­for­est Cafe

RAIN­FOR­EST CAFE

WDW Magazine - - Content - BY DANNY SHUSTER

Rain­for­est Cafe is one of a few non-dis­ney restau­rants avail­able for your din­ing plea­sure at WDW. While some of you may be think­ing, “We have a Rain­for­est Cafe back home, why would I go there at Dis­ney?” Well then you’d be miss­ing out on a fun, en­ter­tain­ing, and very kid-ap­proved din­ing ad­ven­ture. Plus, you can re­live some of those spe­cial Dis­ney mem­o­ries you made at Dis­ney’s Rain­for­est Cafe long af­ter your trip ends at your lo­cal restau­rant—add a lit­tle bit of Dis­ney Magic to keep you go­ing be­tween trips to WDW.

ABOUT THE RESTAU­RANT

Rain­for­est Cafe is part of a chain of restau­rants that were started in 1994 at the Mall of Amer­ica. Since then they have ex­panded to twenty-two restau­rants, with lo­ca­tions in the United States, Canada, Lon­don, Tokyo, Paris, and Dubai. The restau­rant is jun­gle themed, with lush and in­tri­cate dec­o­ra­tions, animatronics, an­i­mal fig­urines, plant life, wa­ter fea­tures, and more. The restau­rant is di­vided into dif­fer­ent sec­tions, each with its own them­ing. The restau­rants also in­clude a sig­na­ture bar area un­der a mush­room cap, fea­tur­ing cus­tom bar stools by artist Glenn Carter, sculpted to look like the legs of var­i­ous jun­gle an­i­mals.

Vis­it­ing the restau­rant is like step­ping into a jun­gle or rain­for­est. There is lush veg­e­ta­tion and deeply in­tri­cate decor and them­ing. Guests can en­joy enor­mous fish tanks with real trop­i­cal fish, wa­ter fea­tures like foun­tains and rain cur­tains, and de­tailed animatronics that bring the jun­gle theme to life. Be on the look­out for animatronics like ele­phants, go­ril­las, tigers, croc­o­diles, and more. Each lo­ca­tion has a unique design with dif­fer­ent animatronics and decor so that every trip is a new ad­ven­ture.

The Dis­ney Springs lo­ca­tion is unique in its design be­ing housed in­side a vol­cano, which pe­ri­od­i­cally “erupts” through­out the day—with spe­cial ef­fects both in­side and out­side of the restau­rant. Guests can also en­joy the “Lava Lounge” lo­cated on the exterior of the restau­rant. This wa­ter­front lounge of­fers trop­i­cal drinks in fun sou­venir cups.

KNOW BE­FORE YOU GO

Rain­for­est Cafe has two lo­ca­tions on Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort prop­erty. One is at Dis­ney Springs, which is housed in­side of a vol­cano, and the sec­ond can be found just out­side the en­trance to the An­i­mal King­dom park. You do not need theme park tick­ets to visit ei­ther lo­ca­tion. While an ADR is not re­quired, it is rec­om­mended as both lo­ca­tions are pop­u­lar and do fill up. If you’d like to get a ta­ble faster, you can join the “Se­lect” Club (a points reward club from Landry Inc.—the par­ent com­pany of Rain­for­est Cafe), which has, among other ben­e­fits, the perk of “pri­or­ity seat­ing.” You can read more about Landry Se­lect on the WDW Dis­count Club Blog.

Both lo­ca­tions ac­cept some DDPS (Dis­ney Din­ing Plans), and should only re­quire one credit per per­son. Rain­for­est Cafe does not par­tic­i­pate in the Ta­bles in Won­der­land pro­gram. The An­i­mal King­dom lo­ca­tion is open for break­fast, lunch, and din­ner, but the Dis­ney Springs lo­ca­tions is only open for lunch and din­ner. You’ll find the same menu at both lo­ca­tions.

THE FOOD

The menu is a wide mix of pasta, sal­ads, burg­ers, chicken, and fish—all served up with an ex­otic flair and puny names. There is a kids menu for guests ages 9 and un­der, with kid-ap­proved fa­vorites like chicken nuggets (dino shaped), pizza, spaghetti, mac­a­roni and cheese, etc. But Rain­for­est Cafe is a great place to try and ex­pand the tastes of a picky eater. Most of the dishes on the reg­u­lar menu are fa­mil­iar enough, with a few lit­tle tweaks and ad­di­tions. Plus, with every­one so wrapped up in the decor, them­ing, and ex­pe­ri­ence of the restau­rant it­self, this is a per­fect place to start blaz­ing your own culi­nary trail. Fan fa­vorites in­clude the Sparkling Vol­cano dessert. A vol­cano is made out of three wedge-shaped brown­ies, with vanilla ice cream be­tween them, and whipped top­ping on top, driz­zled with both choco­late and caramel sauce; this one is def­i­nitely big enough to share—and per­fect to be topped with a can­dle for some­one’s birth­day! The Lava Mud is also a very pop­u­lar kids menu dessert item. Sim­i­lar to child­hood fa­vorite “worms in dirt,” this dessert has gummy worms in choco­late pud­ding, with cookie crum­bles for the dirt.

ET CETERA

● The restau­rant em­ploys a mix of live and an­i­ma­tronic an­i­mals to cre­ate the jun­gle at­mos­phere. ● At the Dis­ney Springs lo­ca­tion, they will oc­ca­sion­ally do a trop­i­cal bird show (with real birds) out­side of the en­trance to en­ter­tain guests. ● The An­i­mal King­dom lo­ca­tion is open early, so you can have break­fast be­fore the park opens. ● Un­like other WDW restau­rants, the Rain­for­est Cafe is not ac­tu­ally in­side of the An­i­mal King­dom park; though you can have an early break­fast there, it un­for­tu­nately will not get you early ac­cess into the park it­self.

While it’s not a Dis­ney-cre­ated ex­pe­ri­ence, I think that the Rain­for­est Cafe is a nat­u­ral fit for WDW. A trip to the restau­rant isn’t just about the food—it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence. The lush and elab­o­rate decor re­ally helps trans­port guests away and into a whole new world. The animatronics are rem­i­nis­cent of the much beloved Jun­gle Cruise, and just like all good Dis­ney rides, the restau­rant even has a gift shop. While it’s not fine din­ing, the menu is var­ied and sure to of­fer some­thing that will ap­peal to every­one in your group. Rain­for­est Cafe is a fun and en­er­getic ex­pe­ri­ence for the whole fam­ily!

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