The Rainforest Cafe is a really neat place to eat. Where else can you eat in the middle of a rainforest complete with animals (real and animatronic), fishies, and a "real" live thunderstorm?
This restaurant is known for it's thunderstorms. Yep, you dine in a rainforest and every 20 minutes or so there is a downpour. (Food gets a little soggy at times but it's fun to watch. Not really, it only rains along the walls.)
The Rainforest Cafe is part of the Landry's chain of restaurants. There are 32 locations including 2 in Walt Disney World. One here in Animal Kingdom and one at Disney Springs.
What to Expect
Each restaurant is themed like a . . . well . . . rainforest (duh, Dad!) with mist, waterfalls, animatronic animals, real animals, growing plants and huge aquariums.
The aquariums here are spectacular. They are saltwater aquariums that have species of colorful fish from around the world. There are aquariums everywhere. Some are tied together, some are stand alone, but for fish lovers, this is the place to be.
So, what happens in a rainforest? It rains. (Duh, again, Dad!). That's why, once every 20 minutes or so, a "thunderstorm" shakes the restaurant. (It is really loud.) First the room gets darker then lighting flashes and thunder roars and the "rain" falls down. The "animals" get restless and make lots of noise. It's a cool effect but be a bit scary for younger visitors.
Animal Kingdom Location
The Animal Kingdom Rainforest Cafe is located right outside of the Animal Kingdom. Literally right outside the entrance. As you look at the ticket booths from the parking lot, it's tucked right over to the left. You don't have to even enter the park. But if you are in the park, you can enter through the park entrance.
Of the two, this location is the least crowded.
Because there is an entrance to Animal Kingdom from here, some people try to use this as a way to avoid the lines getting in to the park first thing in the morning. It may not be the best strategy especially if you need a stroller (stroller rental is located on the other side of the entrance.) There is only one turnstile here and things back up pretty quickly.
Disney Springs Location
The Disney Springs location of the Rainforest Cafe is all the way over on the east side of Disney Springs by the marina. If you arrive at the east bus stop, just walk toward the water and you'll see it.
You can't miss the big volcano that sits next to the restaurant or the sign on the volcano.
When you enter the restaurant, you enter into a huge gift shop called the Retail Village (finally some truth in advertising). The check-in podium is located in the gift shop. (Browsing the gift shop gives you something to do while you wait for your table). The Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs also has a bar area called the Lava Lounge. While it is a bar, it also has the full menu is available and there is rarely a wait. Don't have reservations? Try it out.
Breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe has some interesting offering for breakfast. Just don't know if I'm ready for a thunderstorm with my breakfast. Check out all the offerings for breakfast.
Lunch & Dinner
The lunch and dinner menus at the Rainforest Cafe are very similar. In fact, they are totally similar. In fact, they are identical. Getting hungry yet? You can find the menu here.
Advanced Dining Reservations
Hey Dad, do we need reservations? Yep, you need reservations most of the time (especially at Disney Springs). You can now get Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR's) at both locations through Disney.
Another option to consider, if you weren’t able to get an ADR, is the Landry’s Select Club. Yes, the club has a small yearly fee but you get a lot of perks! (Dad likes perks!). While you can earn points and rewards, the best perk might be priority seating. Walk up to any Landry’s owned restaurant, show your card and they’ll do their best to seat you without an ADR. This is pretty magical! Check it out here.
The Disney Dining Plan
Both locations are now part of the Disney Dining Plan. They count as a Table Service Credit at all meals. You can always let someone else do the dirty work for you. If you book your trip through Destinations to Travel, they will be happy to make all your ADR's for you. No charge. I'm not kidding. It's great. Check them out...
Do your kids (or do you) have a favorite animal? Each part of the dining area is a little different and has a different theme and it's usually an animal that the theme is built on. For example there is an elephant room with an elephant in the middle and a gorilla room with a gorilla in it. So, pick your favorite and enjoy!
Dad’s Bottom Line
The Rainforest Cafe is all about the show. Portions are large, but the food is usually good but not outstanding. Don't miss the huge Retail Village (not like you could anyway).