There are two Rainforest Cafes at the Disney World resort – a Rainforest Cafe at the Animal Kingdom theme park, and a Rainforest Cafe in the Disney Springs Marketplace. Disney Springs is a shopping, dining, and entertainment destination in the southwest corner of the Disney World property. It is a great place for Disney guests to enjoy sights, sounds, and tastes beyond what the resorts and theme parks offer, and the Rainforest Café is one of the most exciting destinations in the area.
Although the Rainforest Café is a national chain of restaurants, the elaborate interior and exterior design and overall sense of fun makes is a great fit among the Disney owned and operated eateries. It is a family-oriented restaurant likely to amuse young and old alike, and guests who are particularly inspired by the rainforest theme may visit the extensive gift shop after their meal.
Even from a distance, there is no mistaking the Rainforest Cafe. A towering volcano that rises from the top of the restaurant can be seen from some distance, and as you get closer you will see waterfalls cascading from volcanic crevices. Around the entrance to the restaurant are blooming tropical plants, more rivulets of trickling water, and jungle animals enjoying their natural habitats. Periodically, live tropical birds will emerge with handlers for guests to admire.
While the exterior of the Rainforest Café is eye-catching, the interior of the restaurant is truly breathtaking. Cylindrical salt water fish tanks throughout the dining area add tropical color and an otherworldly feel. Trees tower from the restaurant floor, while vines dangle from the spreading treetop canopies. Indoor waterfalls and the residents of the tropical tanks add constant sound and motion to the restaurant that truly makes it feel alive.
Tropical flora isn’t the only decorative feature of the Rainforest Café. The restaurant is also full of jungle creatures, from monkeys swinging from the treetops to a herd of elephants with mighty tusks looming from the dense forest. Colorful birds native to the rainforest fly overhead or sit perched on the trees, and many other small jungle critters can be spotted by guests who keep an observant eye peeled.
The ceiling of the restaurant is an artificial sky that spreads a dusky glow over the restaurant and twinkles with thousands of stars. Periodically, however, the sky clouds over, the restaurant darkens, and a storm complete with thunder and pouring rain washes through the dining area. Awakened by the stormy conditions, the animals of the restaurant come alive and begin to move, chatter, trumpet, and growl. The storm is carefully designed and choreographed so that diners are in no danger of being soaked by the rain as they enjoy their meal!
Although the decor of the Rainforest Cafe could hardly seem more exotic, it is a family restaurant at heart. Once you look beyond the jungle-inspired names on the menu, you will discover a variety of American cuisine classics. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It also provides a large children’s menu with lunch, dinner, and dessert items specially designed for younger guests.
Portion sizes at the Rainforest Cafe tend to be on the large side, and lunch and dinner entrees include variations on chicken, steak, pasta, and seafood dishes. There is also a very large selection of appetizers – portion sizes for these items tend to be relatively large as well, and guests with smaller appetites may even find that an appetizer is all they need.
If You Have Special Dietary Needs
There are a variety of vegetarian options available at the Rainforest Cafe, but guests with other dietary restrictions should proceed carefully. Many items on the restaurant menu are a la carte, so it is more difficult for adjustments to be made to the dish ingredients. The restaurant also tends to be very busy throughout the day, and quite loud as a result of so many guests as well and the dining room’s ambient noise. This can make it challenging to explain complex dietary limitations to a server.
In addition to the main dining room, the Rainforest Cafe also features the Magic Mushroom Bar area, where guests can order from the bar menu and enjoy specialty drinks with tropical names. The bar is surrounded by bar stools in the shape of many exotic animal species.
The Gift Shop
If your Rainforest Café meal is memorable enough to warrant a memento, you can visit the gift shop at the end of your visit where a large variety of rainforest inspired items are for sale. From a wide variety of plush animals to apparel, toys, and knick knacks, the Rainforest Cafe gift shop has a fun selection of standard souvenir options.
Getting To The Restaurant
In addition to shopping, dining, and entertainment, the Disney Springs area also features several hotels and resorts where Disney guests can stay. Residents at these locations have easy access to the Rainforest Cafe and other parts of downtown either on foot or by boat along one of the areas many waterways.
For guests staying outside the Disney Springs Resort Area, the Disney bus system is the best way to get to Disney Springs and the Rainforest Cafe. Buses leave regularly from every Disney resort to takes guests to Disney Springs and other parts of the Disney World resort, including Disney resort hotels.
Pros and Cons
The Rainforest Cafe is a fun immersion experience, with detailed theming that truly surrounds you while you dine. While not a Disney owned restaurant, it has the attention to detail and multifaceted experience what many guests associate with a visit to Disney. Children frequently love the sights and sounds of this restaurant experience, while even adults can appreciate the excitement of a passing thunderstorm.
As mentioned earlier, the Rainforest Cafe is very popular and can be extremely busy. The dining room is fairly densely packed with tables, and the noise of so many diners combined with the sounds of rushing water and animals makes for a raucous dining experience. For many guests, this is part of the fun, but visitors in search of a peaceful meal and good conversation may need to look elsewhere.