I've been to Rainforest Cafe quite a few times over the years. The reason for that is, well, I'm not sure I can come up with a convincing answer. It's a jungle themed restaurant where the animatronic animals come to life and the lights darken every once in a while. If you're not someone who likes to eat in the dark or with loud fake animal noises going on, then this isn't for you straight away. Although I am getting older and more sensitive to such things, it doesn't bother me all that much.
Last year, I had quite a bad experience at the Disney Springs Rainforest Cafe, so I thought this time we'd go to the Animal Kingdom one. Last year, we were sat near the kitchen entrance and staff members kept kicking my chair as they were walking past. Keep in mind it wasn't a small area, there was a huge gap between my table and the kitchen door entrance. After the 3rd time it happened, I called over our server and asked her politely if she could do something about staff members kicking my chair when they come past. 20 minutes, and a couple more kicks later, the manager came over, I told him what's going on and he apologised and asked if I wanted to move. I said I raised this issue over 20 minutes ago and we've already nearly finished our meal, so moving was pointless now. He then went and stood over by the kitchen door to make sure nobody else kicked my chair. Also, when they bring out the Volcano dessert a few staff members walk around with it and shout "VOLCANO. VOLCANO. VOLCANO". Which is fine, unless you're right by the kitchen and they scream it in your ear as they walk past.
This restaurant is always more busy than it deserves to be, and that's because it's on Disney property. If it was off-property, I imagine it would be much more quiet. (I'm not sure how busy the one in London gets).
This year though, we thought we'd go to other one at Animal Kingdom (although I generally know most chains don't really change from store to store) and also had a pretty bad time. We ordered the Primal Steak...
and the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. It was a good burger, but it's still a burger. Nothing hugely special about it. The fries were a little off, though. I think they were sat there a little too long. (I'll get to the steak.)
If you have ever had a Volcano, you'll know they are delicious. But sadly, on the dining plan you need 3 people to have one. As there was two of us, we just got some ice cream...
and the Key Lime Pie, which was good and a little different than Key Lime Pies tend to be. The texture was a little strange, but the crust was really good.
I had some issues with my steak meal. To start with, for my sides I asked for mash and rice. (I don't eat fries anymore because I have to avoid fried things.) She was a little confused if I said fries or rice (it is quite loud in there), so I told her rice a little louder. She said “rice, ok” wrote it down and went on her way. We went through our drinks pretty quickly, but she was very slow getting them refilled. I think we only had one refill the whole meal, and she was nowhere to be found most of the time.
When my steak arrived, it arrived with mash and fries. I told the nice lady who brought the food over that I asked for rice, not fries. And she told me no problem, she will go and get me a bowl of rice. Couple minutes go by and there's no sign of her, so I start to eat my steak and mash. The steak itself however, is pretty good. I like the butter they melt into it. It's no California Grill of course, but I'd still say it's not as good as it should be when the price is nearing $40.
About 10 minutes into the meal, there's still no sign of this rice, and I was half way through my steak. Our server again nowhere to be seen. About 20 minutes later, I had eaten all my steak and mash and the fries were left on my plate. Not once did our server come over and ask how the meal was, I didn't see her anywhere for me to bring up this issue (and of course this means our drinks didn't get refilled). We had both finished and she finally came over, I told her I've been trying to locate you, I asked for rice and got fries. She apologised and asked if she wanted me to go grab a bowl of rice, I told her no - we've finished now. She took her plates and left. We then had our desserts brought out, she handed us the bill and I asked to see the manager. After signing the dining plan papers and leaving a very small tip - another 10 minutes go by and I just lost interest waiting for the manager to come over and we walked out.
We were quite a bit addicted to the Minnie Vans this year, and some of the drivers do bring up the restaurants we like to eat at. The driver we had the day after this Rainforest Cafe visit said to us, "Yes it's rubbish, but in our defence Rainforest isn’t Disney”.
If you haven't been to Rainforest Cafe and the theming I've described interests you, then you should at least check it out. If you have children who would also like this type of atmosphere at a restaurant, then it's worth taking them. I've had some readers come to me and say they only go because their kids like the atmosphere, but it's a shame the parents can't enjoy decent food and service at the same time. Otherwise, I'd avoid it. With the amount of really good restaurants like Homecomin' now open on property, I wouldn't say Rainforest is worth your dining credit or money at this point. If you really want this kind of meal or experience though, then T-rex at Disney Springs is a very slight step up (owned by the same company, however).
Our Score 2/5
Is it worth the money? No. Average food let down with constantly below average service.
Is it worth the dining plan credit? No, much better places to use your credits.
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