Five Fantastic Reasons to Eat at Rainforest Cafe
Most restaurants at Walt Disney world are owned and operated by The Walt Disney Company. They do make exceptions, though. A couple of trusted restauranteurs host establishments at Disney. The Patina Group is one of them, and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s Landry’s, Inc. is the other major group. Let’s take a look at the latter’s most famous eatery today. Here are five reasons to eat at Rainforest Cafe.
Rainforest Cafe Locations at Animal Kingdom AND Disney Springs
Almost all Disney restaurants are one of a kind, and you’ll only find them at/near Disney theme parks, too. Rainforest Cafe is a glaring exception. Landry’s has franchised 21 of these restaurants in the United States. So, you don’t even need to go to Disney to visit this place. It’s available in 10 states.
Ever the showman, Tilman Fertitta aka the Billionaire Buyer on CNBC understands the importance of tourist attractions, though. His best Rainforest Cafe locations are at Walt Disney World, and you’ll notice that I used the plural there. You’ll find Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Ordinarily, the park location would be the most difficult one to find. At Animal Kingdom, nothing could be farther from the truth. Rainforest Cafe is off the side when you enter and exit the park. You’ll walk right past the entrance area as you leave Animal Kingdom. The signage is so memorable that you’ll often see families taking pictures of it, even when they’re not eating there. People love giant gorillas and lizards, I guess.
The Disney Springs location is close to the Marketplace Dock. This is important because visitors who take the boat from Disney’s Port Orleans resorts or Disney’s Old Key West Resort will get dropped off close to the restaurant’s entrance.
Similarly, guests who walk from Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa to Disney Springs may eat here often due to the convenience. As you cross the bridge, the first thing that you’ll see is Disney’s Wonderful World of Memories. Rainforest Cafe is in the same shopping complex on the right side while World of Memories is on the left. The middle portion is a place where you’re likely to visit, The Art of Disney.
You can’t miss Rainforest Café anyway due to the GIANT VOLCANO located right beside the restaurant. Walk toward that, and you’ll find the entrance.
The Tropical Theming
The GIANT VOLCANO is a dead giveaway. At Rainforest Cafe, you’re immersed in a tropical realm where you’ll feel like you’re at one with nature. Well, it’s a silly Disney-fied kind of nature, but that’s why your kids will love it.
The walls of Rainforest Cafe are decorated with the same type of creatures that you’d expect inside Animal Kingdom. The difference is that these are more akin to the ones you’ll see on Jungle Cruise rather than Kilimanjaro Safaris. Audio-Animatronic elephants lurk beside your table, and gorillas stare at you disapprovingly. Lizards adorn the walls, frozen in mid-slither by your noticing them. It’s all quite ridiculous and extremely touristy.
The restaurant’s ceilings aren’t visible due to the thick (artificial) vegetation, the kind that you’d find in an actual rainforest. Bioluminescent lighting appears in an unexpected area, as the bar has a strange glow to it. For kids, the highlights are the aquariums, the only places where you’ll find living non-human creatures at Rainforest Cafe.
The Food and Lava Cake
When third-party restauranteurs open establishments on Disney property, the menu is more populist in nature. Disney’s not afraid to be daring with some of its cuisines. Outside ownership groups have a vested interest in appealing to everyone.
When you dine at Rainforest Café, you’ll eat a large volume of comfort food. The portions are large, some say gorilla-sized, but the best part is the menu’s diversity. Anyone who can’t find something to eat here is too picky, and I say that as one of the pickiest eaters that the world has ever known.
This place sells 10 appetizers, 13 different soups/salads, 25 different entrees, four enhancements (one of which is pork ribs), and five desserts. Even the kid’s menu here is impressive. Children may choose between 11 different entrees. That would be an excessive amount for an adult menu!
Since the tropical theme at Rainforest Cafe includes fish, six different seafood entrees are available. The best of these is the sampler called Taste of the Islands, which comes with shrimp, tilapia, and scallops. Meat eaters will adore the Mojo Bones, a gigantic stack of spareribs. And everyone should try the Sparkling Volcano at some point in their lives. It’s a chocolate brownie slathered with caramel and ice cream.
The Mall-like Shopping
I’m not exaggerating when I say that half of this building is a shopping center. Rainforest Cafe is a cottage industry, and it’s located at many major tourist meccas for a good reason. Their merchandise sells like crazy. They certainly wouldn’t pass on an opportunity to sell stuff at Disney.
You’ll find more t-shirts here than you could wear in a calendar year. You could also buy a wallet, purse, and/or backpack marked with Rainforest Cafe’s logo. Let’s be honest about the situation, though. What you’re most likely to buy here are stuffed animals. Seemingly all of the animals that you’ll see in this restaurant are available in cute, furry form.
Your money’s never safe here, especially when you bring children who know how to manipulate you emotionally to get what they want. On the plus side, the stuffed animal that you’ll inevitably buy is spectacularly adorable and quite huggable.
The Membership Perks
This section is equal parts perk discussion and pro tip. Landry’s, Inc. famously takes care of its most loyal customers. They run a program called Landry’s Select Club. The one-time membership fee for this is $25. When you pay this money, you automatically receive a $25 credit on your Landry’s Select Club account. So, when you’re going to eat at Rainforest Café or T-REX during a Disney vacation, you might as well sign up.
The perks of this card are exceptional. Every year during your birthday month, Landry’s will give you a gift of $25 in credit on your account. This credit is only good during the month of your birthday. When you eat at Rainforest Cafe during this month, you’ll show your card to receive the savings. If you won’t be at Disney during this timeframe, Landry’s owns several other qualifying restaurant chains such as Joe’s Crab Shack and Bubba Gump Shrimp. You can spend your birthday gift there instead!
To Disney fans, the main perk of the card is rapid seating. Again, Disney doesn’t run Rainforest Café. Landry’s does, and they get to make up the rules. When you eat here, show your card at check-in. You will get the first available table, whether you have an Advanced Dining Reservation or not. You will feel like you own the joint when you receive this treatment for the first time.
Best of all, the Landry’s Select Club works like other membership programs. You’ll accumulate points for each visit. The ratio is one point for every dollar spent. When you reach $250, you’ll get another $25 credit to your account. That’s like getting 10 percent back on your purchases! You won’t find a credit card with that sort of rewards program!
Landry’s provides such a favorable membership program because they are customer-focused. Their vision aligns with Disney’s, which explains why the companies are in business together. And Rainforest Cafe is the flagship tourist restaurant for Landry’s. You’ll always have a wonderful time when you dine here.