*This dining review took place in December 2019. It includes information about gluten free options, in addition to dairy free, fish/shellfish free, cabbage free, peanut free, hazelnut free, and chicken & turkey free options.
Dinner at Rainforest Cafe
Rainforest Cafe is a chain of restaurants owned and operated by Landry’s with two locations at Walt Disney World. This review is specific to the location at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, though Brandon and I have also been to the Disney Springs location too. We recently had dinner at the Animal Kingdom location as we had several Landry’s Select Club rewards that we needed to use before the end of the year.
The Rainforest Cafe chain has been around since the early 1990s. And, I’ve been to several locations throughout the U.S. When we dined at the Animal Kingdom location, we were told by our server that it’s the largest Rainforest Cafe. After dining in there, I can definitely believe it because the restaurant is pretty large.
While all Rainforest Cafes have a similar look and feel, each one is somewhat unique. The location in Disney Springs, for instance, has a giant volcano attached to it, while the Animal Kingdom location is more tropical in nature.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this visit and the restaurant’s theme is that they actually decorated a bit for the holidays. I joked that it felt like we were dining in the Jingle Cruise (the holiday overlay of the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom) because many of the animatronics had holiday attire one.
There was definitely a lot of great atmosphere, and every 20 minutes or so, you can expect the restaurant to have some type of “show” that happens and the animatronics come to life.
We went on a weekday, about an hour before the park closed. The restaurant itself did have quite a few people in it, but the spacious seating area didn’t make it feel too busy or crowded.
As you can see, there was a lot to look at throughout the restaurant. So, no matter where you’re seating, you’re bound to get a fun view.
Continuing the Jungle Cruise theme, I present to you the backside of the Rainforest Cafe waterfall!
Because Rainforest Cafe is not owned and operated by Disney, they do not have an allergy-friendly menu. But, a chef will come and speak to you about options. The chef we met on this visit was very friendly and helped talk through what options might be safe for each of our special dietary needs.
The menu is quite large, both literally and figuratively! There were many items from salads to pasta and steaks that could be easily made gluten free (and dairy free).
I ended up ordering the Bollywood Chicken & Shrimp dish which included Sautéed Chicken and Shrimp, Stir Fry Vegetables, Spicy Curry Sauce served with White Rice. The chef told me that this dish is naturally gluten free as long as you omit the fried shallots normally served on top. I really enjoy curry so I was excited to try this option.
While I did enjoy this, I found the curry to be very spicy. I’m a big spicy food fan, and this was almost too spicy for me. So, if spicy foods are not your favorite, I would definitely recommend avoiding this. I’m not sure I’d get this again, simply because I thought the spice level was just a bit too much. I think I prefer the salmon I got at the Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs over this dish.
Brandon opted to get something simple and easy to make allergy-friendly for him — The Primal Steak. This dish is not only gluten free, but it’s also fish/shellfish free, peanut free, cabbage free, hazelnut free, and chicken & turkey free too. The dish normally comes with mashed potatoes and a choice of another side, but Brandon decided he wanted double mashed potatoes that night. He said the steak was excellent, as were the mashed potatoes. And, as you can see, the portion was huge too!
While it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had at a Rainforest Cafe location, both Brandon and I agreed that both the food and that the special dietary needs accommodations were solid. The chef seemed very willing to make a variety of dishes and provide several suggestions to us. And, the food was overall fairly good. While I didn’t necessarily love the spice level on my curry, it was a sizable portion with good flavor. I would probably try something else on our next visit, but it’s definitely worth going back again — although Brandon and I do prefer Yak & Yeti (another Landry’s restaurant) located in the Animal Kingdom.
Have you been to the Animal Kingdom Rainforest Cafe location? What did you think of the special dietary needs options?