By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor

Review: Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney

By Dave Shute


All of this site’s eight night itineraries include an evening at Downtown Disney to see the amazing Cirque du Soleil.

And you gotta eat, so among the dozens of options available at Downtown Disney, the dining spot recommended in the itineraries is the Downtown Disney Rainforest Cafe.

Now the Rainforest Cafe is no Cress; it’s not even Whispering Canyon. But it is a wonderfully themed, usually reliable family dining spot.


There’s a variety of dining options at Downtown Disney, many either national brands or with some nationally known chef or celebrity in the name.

Rainforest Cafe is one of the national chains, which make some resist going there. I get this, but there’s only a couple of dozen of them in the country, in fewer than a dozen states, so for most families it will be new.

What makes it stand out among the Downtown Disney offerings is its distinctive and broadly appealing theming.

Rainforest Cafe has a…well…rainforest theme with elements of a safari tied in. The rainforest theme fills the ceiling, walls, and the spaces between seating areas, creating the impression you are in an active forest.

The theming is supported by animatronic figures of animals, which move every now and then, thunderstorms and lighting, and other effects.

This theming makes it fun for kids, and situates it well within an overall Disney World experience.

The menu is adequate without being special; not being special is usually good for kids! For menu details, see this. We enjoyed our meals–especially the “Awesome Appetizer Adventure.”

But the reason to go here is for the physical environment, not the food.  It’s the most fun restaurant for kids at Downtown Disney.

(You’ll find reviews saying that it’s loud and scary.  It’s no louder than most restaurants filled with kids, and it’s not scary for kids older than five who have already been on Disney rides.)

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1 Beth D. { 01.21.13 at 5:54 pm }

We really enjoy Rainforest Cafe. It is loud in there, but no more so than, as you mentioned, anything else you child may have experienced in Walt Disney WOrld. The only thing that actually scared my daughter (just 3 at the time) wasn’t the volume but the “thunderstorm” that happens occasionally inside the Rainforest Cafe. But I LOVE the bar stools! Anyone who visits, whether you go to the bar or not, should check those out!

2 Dave { 01.22.13 at 7:19 am }

Thanks Beth–and the bar stools are amazing!!

3 Troy { 01.22.13 at 8:38 pm }

Oh, Dave, no mention of T-Rex? I know we might have had a bad experience w/ Rainforest (at AK), but T-Rex was an INCREDIBLE meal w/ unbelievable theming. I believe if you had boys instead of girls, you’d have gone. 🙂

4 Dave { 01.23.13 at 8:06 am }

Troy, I have two sons, and we’ve visited T Rex! I think it’s almost as well themed as Rainforest Cafe and it doe show up in a few of my itins where i have people eating at the AK Rainforest, but still need a place to send them in DTD. I rank it second because some kids might be a little more scared at T Rex than at Rainforest!

5 Troy { 01.23.13 at 8:10 am }

Oooh, ya got me! I had only seen pics of 2 girls on your site, and since princess experiences take up a couple of spots on your meal list, well…I assumed incorrectly. Good point about the scare factor for the youngest kids.

6 Ally Stoup { 03.19.13 at 10:00 pm }

I just heard that down town disney is getting a make over I was wondering whats going to happen to the Rain Forest Cafe Restraunt,The Dinosaure restraunt and the other restraunts as well, The going to start expanding next month, And there going to change the Name From Down Town Disney to Disney’s Springs and all of down town disney is to be complet by 2016.

7 Dave { 03.20.13 at 6:39 am }

Ally, no one knows yet. My guess is that Rainforest and T-Rex will stay.

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8 Jane { 05.14.15 at 1:00 pm }

Hi Dave, I am definitely taking our kids to TRex, but am also looking at where to eat at AK and am seriously considering a dinner at Rainforest Cafe as well. We will probably do Flame Tree BBQ or Yak and Yeti for lunch. My worry is that TRex and Rainforest will be too much of the same thing. Is that true? Kids are 8 and 7 yr old boys, almost 4 yr old girl. Thanks for any advice. 🙂

9 Dave { 05.16.15 at 11:13 am }

Jane, they are indeed the same concept, just executed around different topics, so I agree with your concern…One fun option would be dinner at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, just a short bus ride away from AK.

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