Disney Dining is the thing in my family. Of the great debate: Dining First or Park First? We choose Dining first and structure our vacations around dining. We ate at numerous restaurants during our week-long tenure at Disney World in 2015 and ate out on the Deluxe Dining Plan. It has informed our dining decision making at Disney enormously on every trip since, of which there are soon-to-be three new Disney vacations (Summer 2015 for a month, Spring 2016 over Easter and upcoming Mid Summer 2016).
In 2015, I was unaware of how much things cost and whether I was getting a good deal or not. I have since become aware of my first-time Disney naivete and acquired much more Disney acumen since last Spring. Therefore, I've been sharing our list of the TOP 12 Disney Restaurants but in reverse order. This is our Worst-to-Best List, counting down to number one.
4th place: Rainforest Café
The Rainforest Café comes in at #4 for our family due to the outstanding theming and the even better FOOD! Good lord, we left this place stuffed! I think we had trouble walking for about two hours while the food had time to properly digest. Also, there's a *hidden* entrance to Animal Kingdom after eating at this restaurant. At the time, I did not know this. I was initially flabbergasted when I had to use my magic band to enter the park! I thought..., "Wait. Didn't I already do that? This doesn't look anything like the entrance!" And so I then proceeded to ask my question out loud and was met with answer: "It's the secret, hidden, awesome, magical entrance to Animal Kingdom through the exit from the Rainforest Café!" Aha! Obviously. 😉
Both my children and I agree that the food here was really outstanding. Since this first experience, I've had a chance to dine at Rainforest Café again, and once again, it did not disappoint. We feel very firm in our conviction that Rainforest Café hold a solid #4 spot on our list of worst-to-best dining experiences. Pros and cons are as follows:
Pros: Theming, quality of entrees, fun hidden entrance to park.
Cons: If you miss a breakfast reservation, even if you are only ten minutes late, you will not be served breakfast - even if you are not in the mood for lunch. Also, limited dessert options for those with food allergies. The sorbet was the *only* thing I could have, whether I wanted it or not.
If there is one thing that Disney has a LOT of it's DINING and GIFT SHOPS. This is the dual-sided entrance to Rainforest Café. One side = Restaurant, other side = Gift Shop.
I love elephants. Owls and elephants, actually. In any case, Rainforest Café is a delight to your sense of majesty in nature's creations. All throughout the restaurant you will find creatures of the Amazon and African Savannah. It's beautiful.
Waiting without shades in the shade of the "Amazon Rainforest".
Waiting with shades in the shade of the "Amazon Rainforest". Much cooler, bruh. Much cooler.
You don't even need central incisors to eat at the Rainforest Café!
Amazing "coral reef" pillar aquariums serve as a gateway between restaurant and gift shop.
The menu does not change just because you are at Disney. If you've been to one Rainforest Café, you will have had a similar experience. Disney just happens to have two Rainforest Cafés. The other is in Disney Springs.
A bird's-eye view of the Rainforest Café main dining section.
Numerous aquariums abound in the Rainforest Café.
This monument encourages us to "Save the Rainforest". It would be nice if they offered up ideas as to "how" next to the monument! Just a thought.
Aquariums all over the place!
There are many ledges to go around and have your picture taken throughout the restaurant. Only problem is the lighting isn't so great, so you'll want to use one of the fancy, expensive cameras -- not just your smartphone, like I did!
The "animals" come alive through some type of animatronics. Every ten minutes or so, you'll hear the sounds of the Rainforest and this "gorilla" will start to roar. Also, misting fans will go off to give the illusion of a Rainforest "lightly wet" experience.
Even the stools are something to see! Here each stool appears to be the hind end of some African animal, right next to another aquarium bar this time!
I love the cups at Rainforest Café! They are souvenir cups so they do cost extra but they light up! Ooooooh, aaaaaaaah! We've since brought them home and I have to say: HAND WASH ONLY. My previous cups bit the dust and have brown stains where the battery box is. Somebody put them in the dishwasher!
Fancy light-up rainbow cup, costs extra, but it's a lot of fun and a great souvenir. You'll need a tall cabinet space for all the collectible cups and mugs you can get at Disney!
Of course, daughter had to get a frog cup. It's cool, right? There were different "heads" to choose from as I recall. Only caveat? They really don't fit anywhere in my cabinets at home. The "head-lid" is so awkwardly sized.
Carb craving? Hungry at all? You will leave stuffed. Look at the MOUND of food piled on this kid's plate!
This meal was STUNNING. I believe it was inspired by the flavors of Persia (as if I knew something about the flavors of a land that no longer exists as named). Nevertheless, you need WORDS! Succulent, mouth-watering, oozing with goodness and flavor. It turns out that absolutely NOTHING was wrong with the main entrée. It was perfection on a plate. Well presented and incredibly tasty.
Just look at these perfect kebabs! Really. They were perfect. Perfect seasoning, lovely vegetables and the rice was cooked just right.
I took so many pictures of this meal. Why? Because it was downright AMAZING. My kids food was good too but my entrée was off the charts.
Look at this so-called "slice" of cake. I think it is bigger than my son's head. With the Deluxe Dining Plan you are entitled to an appetizer, entrée and dessert: all included in your one credit meal. Quite a deal, really.
Alas, I can usually and often only have fruit-based desserts at Disney due to my gluten, egg, dairy and soy free dietary restrictions. Nevertheless, the presentation of these sorbets makes my mouth water now just looking at them a year later!
Unbeknownst to us, we would travel down a path away from this fountain and find ourselves at *the magical, secret, hidden entrance* to Animal Kingdom!
The final bill came to $106.09 for the food alone. I was charged $24.48 for the collectible cups. In terms of the Deluxe dining plan? I came out AHEAD $1.99. Not too bad. This was closer to hitting the mark.