*This gluten free dining experience took place in February 2021. It includes information about dairy free options, as well as fish/shellfish, peanut, hazelnut, cabbage, and chicken & turkey allergies.
Dinner at Rainforest Cafe
Rainforest Cafe is a table service restaurant owned by Landry’s that has two locations on Disney property — one at Disney Springs and one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Recently, we decided to get dinner at the Animal Kingdom location, because we are Landry’s Select Club members had I had a $25 birthday reward to use for our meal that would expire at the end of the month. We have dined at Rainforest Cafe on several occasions, and while it’s not our favorite of the Landry’s restaurants on Disney property, we always enjoy our meals there.
COVID-19 & Reopening Notes
On this particular visit, we made reservations for the restaurant a few days before we dined there. I used the My Disney Experience app and found that there was a reservation for the final seating of the evening, which we decided to book. If you’re a Landry’s Select Club member, you can also show up to the restaurant without a reservation and simply show your card for priority seating. This has served us really well in the past, and we’ve found that we typically experience a little to no wait for a table. The MDE app worked as it normally does, and we were able to add in our special dietary needs in the app and alert cast members of our needs when we arrived at the restaurant. There was no online check-in though, so be sure to stop by the podium to speak with a cast member when you arrive.
The restaurant itself had mechanisms to provide sanitization, social distancing, and safety for both guests and cast members. All cast members wore facial masks and all servers in the restaurant wore both facial masks and protective shields.
As a note, at the time of writing this review, we have been to several of the Disney Resorts, including the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk Resort, Contemporary Resort, Coronado Springs Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Old Key West Resort, Polynesian, Riviera Resort, and Wilderness Lodge Resort along with all of the theme parks. All locations have the same protocols, as far as we have observed. Be sure to check with restaurants and the official Disney World website for additional information about current guidelines and recommendations.
Rainforest Cafe is a chain restaurant that has been around since the 1990s. It has a decidedly jungle look and feel with animal animatronics and various “shows” that take place about every 20 minutes. I personally find the restaurant to feel a bit dated but nostalgic. There are still several Rainforest Cafe locations in the U.S. (a lot can be found in malls). And, we have been told that this specific restaurant at Disney is the largest of all the locations. It’s definitely a large restaurant!
Somehow we managed to not get very many photos during our visit. If you’re curious about the seating or more about the interior, check out our previous blog posts where we included more photos of the restaurant.
It’s a very boisterous and noisy restaurant with a lot to look at. It can be a little bit of overstimulation on all the aesthetics, so be prepared! The tropical storms that take every 20 minutes or so are also quite loud and feature flashing lights and lightning and rain sounds. It’s a lot to take in! Kiddos seemed especially excited by all the restaurant happenings. So, if you have kiddos this could be a perfect family restaurant for you.
Because Rainforest Cafe is not owned and operated by Disney, they do not have an allergy-friendly menu. But, a manager or chef will speak to you about special dietary needs options. We have found it to be hit or miss whether a manager or chef comes to the table. And, on this visit, we spoke with a manager who also radioed a chef as we discussed options.
For my entree, I decided to order the Aloha Salmon and Shrimp. This came with Hawaiian-glazed Salmon and Shrimp, Fresh Vegetables, and Japanese Rice. The manager noted that this dish was gluten free as is with no modifications and confirmed with a chef via radio that the sauce was gluten free. It’s always good to double-check, especially if you have questions or concerns about the status of an ingredient. I always double-check sauces, especially, because they can be an overlooked source of gluten. If you are dairy free, I was advised that there is dairy in the sauce itself and that it cannot be modified. So, you’ll want to either ask for this dish plain with no sauce or explore other options on the menu.
Overall, I really liked this dish. Both the salmon and shrimp were cooked well and the Hawaiian-glaze was really nice. It was both sweet and spicy and quite tasty. The vegetables were standard and nothing too special, as was the rice. But, everything really came together and made this a solid dish. I would definitely order it again.
For Brandon’s entree, he ordered the Primal Steak which includes NY Strip and mashed potatoes. It also comes with seasonal vegetables, but Brandon requested a double-portion of mashed potatoes instead. This dish was made safe for Brandon’s allergies which include: fish/shellfish, peanut, hazelnut, cabbage, and chicken & turkey. I have also been told this is gluten free in previous visits, but you’ll want to double-check that if you’re interested in this dish as a GF guest.
Like me, Brandon said his dish was quite solid and very tasty. He really enjoyed the grill flavor of the steak, and he especially liked the mashed potatoes. If you’re a steak fan, this could be a great entree to enjoy when you dine at Rainforest Cafe. Brandon has ordered this dish on several occasions, and it’s definitely a repeat entree for him.
If you want to get more information about our visit to Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we did film our visit for our YouTube channel.
We both enjoyed our entrees at Rainforest Cafe. While the restaurant doesn’t offer a ton of variety for guests with special dietary needs, we both appreciate that the restaurant does work to accommodate and provide safe and tasty dishes. If you’re interested in a lively, family friendly restaurant, this could be a great option for you. Or, if you’re a Landry’s Select Club member, it’s a great go-to especially if you don’t have a reservation and want a walk-up at a table service restaurant while at the Animal Kingdom. We usually dine at Rainforest Cafe once or twice a year, and we’re glad we had a safe and delicious meal on this visit.
Have you been to Rainforest Cafe? What was your experience there with special dietary needs?