Saturday, August 9, 2014

Disney Reviews: Restaurant Edition #9 - T-Rex Cafe

When I first thought about doing a review of T-Rex, I initially thought about bundling it in with Rainforest Cafe. They are owned by the same company and the food is quite similar (even though they have different names), but the decor is so startlingly different, in the end I decided on two separate reviews and I figured I'd start with the better of the two.

Let me also preface this review with a warning to all those with Asper or Autistic kids...both T-Rex and Rainforest are VERY difficult for those of us who fall within the Autistic is extremely loud in general, but every 30 minutes T-Rex has a meteor storm (and Rainforest has a thunderstorm) that makes it extraordinarily louder than possibly any eating experience you've ever had! The lights dim, there are bright flashes everywhere, audioanimatronic animals (in both locations) roar, howl, or whatever noise they are supposed to make, they stomp their feet, and add even more to the already disturbing event. As much as I enjoy eating there, the ruckus has kept me away more often than not. Granted, you may only have to sit through it once or twice during your meal and it only lasts a minute, but it is very visually off-putting (and sometimes painful to those that have sensory overload like me). I'm pretty much over it once we're out, but someone higher up on the spectrum might be freaked out for days over it. Just thought I'd put that out there.

We have managed to eat at T-Rex a couple of times, most recently in 2012. It has been longer since we've been to Rainforest (which has two locations on property, the big one Downtown and one at the entrance to Animal Kingdom...we have eaten at both). I am very much a girl in every sense of the say I'm "girly" is the understatement of the year, but I do prefer dinosaurs to jungle animals which is quite a "boyish" thing to like. I've always had a bit of a fascination with dinosaurs anyway, so T-Rex is a lot more appealing to me. It's personal preference.

T-Rex is located at Downtown Disney:

See what I mean about theming? If you think the dinosaur bones you walk under to get in the door is amazing:
(and I so need to get a better picture of this next time I go)
Wait till you see the giant squirming octopus above you head once you do get in:
the picture doesn't do it's MASSIVE!

But the dinosaurs start appearing just around the corner and there are plaques beside each creature or some of the plant life describing all sorts of information about them...both cool and informative!

There are separate dining rooms in the restaurant representing different eras in time. I don't know all their names (yes, there are things about Disney World I DON'T know...quite a lot actually) but I do know the ice room and even "normals" should stay away! It changes colors every couple of minutes and takes the brunt of the meteor shower. It's like some kind of hippy-trippy experience for those sitting on the outside, I can't imagine how horrible it must be on the inside, especially when you are trying to eat! Luckily, we've never sat or even walked through it, and if we were, I would request a different location (and I can count on one hand how many times I've ever done that). Here is the, picture if you will, being completely surrounded by four walls and a roof of this color changing clear "ice":
same room in red:
Although there are cool fossils embedded in the "ice":
I'd still much rather be away from it altogether! A lot of the complaints from other guests are ones that have sat in this area.

We were in a "jungle" type room in 2009 (and this might be the worst picture yet):

But we were in the "ocean" room in 2012:
Completely surrounded by fish tanks:
Including one that was literally right beside me:
We had a "drunk and pissed Dory" who just "kept swimming" round and round the tank (pretty darn fast but she was swerving and kept switching direction) the ENTIRE time we were there! She was a hoot! I even have video of her doing her thing (but I don't have it readily available to post, so we'll make due with a picture)...notice her scowl!

Let's get on to the good stuff, shall we? I am going to divide these meals up by year, so let's start with 2009...

All the menu items are named after prehistoric stuff and they have one of the largest menus on property, probably because they aren't Disney owned (if you'd like to see the full menu, you can get it HERE and it doesn't change that often...a Disney World rarity, but it makes me able to give you names of the food I'm eating). We got Dexter's Dual Dip - part shrimp & artichoke and part queso. I prefer the shrimp & artichoke - although I'd NEVER eat an artichoke in any other form than in dip.

T-Rex and Rainforest is one of the few restaurants on property (besides anything with a UK theme) that serves Guinness (my beer of choice), so I couldn't help myself:
But both T-Rex and Rainforest are known for their mixed flavored drinks and their collectable glasses or cups that you get to take home (a pain to ship and handle BTW, but surprisingly I have managed OK with the glasses and not OK with the plastic...go figure!).

I should warn you about this pic as well...remember when I said that I often get my Sister's butt in pictures because she walks ahead of me? Well, there is another part of her body often featured in my pictures as well. I promise I'm not TRYING to take pics of her boobs, they just get in the way of the food. So forgive me because this won't be the first or the last time you'll see them!

She had the Stegosaurus Steak and Cheese Sandwich:

And I had the Mammoth Mushroom Ravioli:
which had a HUGE piece of focaccia with it! Now, I know I hate mushrooms and have said so many a'time, but if they are ground up, they have a meat flavor and I kind of like them, especially portobellos or shitakes (which mushroom ravioli tends to be filled with). There were buttons in these as well as some pretty big chunks and I did end up picking a lot of them out, but the meal was still filling in itself (even if my plate looked like I had disemboweled all the ravioli...there were quite a few mushrooms that got "left behind"). Only when I 'think' about eating mushrooms does it really bother me and I start nitpicking them because it's more of a texture issue than an actual taste issue.

Funny story about 2009 - my Sister gets hit on all the time at Disney. She's very happily married and does nothing to provoke it, she's just really pretty and outgoing, so it just happens. I'm the complete opposite of the "pretty" and "outgoing" spectrum, so it NEVER happens to me, especially when I'm with her...I just tend to fade into obscurity (and I like it that way most times). Well, it would figure, the one time I would get hit on, it would be a person of the wrong gender! Our waitress apparently missed my hetero vibe, because she developed a bit of a crush on me! At first I didn't even notice, I just thought she was very nice and was good at her job (although I did notice right off the bat she was a bit "handsy" and I don't like to be touched except by a select few). Once she started being too friendly and getting too personal, I finally caught on (and, of course, Am knew the entire time and was getting a kick out of it!). We did make sure we tipped her well, the service, after all, was still excellent (or at least it was for me, not so much for Am), but we didn't stick around long after that. I wasn't offended, but it did make me a tad uncomfortable and it would have done the same thing if it was a guy, especially if I didn't fancy's why I don't flirt in the first place, I can't respond appropriately to attention and I just become awkward. It was more funny than anything since I had just been complaining to Am how unfair it was that she always gets hit on and I don't! Guess I can't say that now (although I still don't count it since it was the wrong sex).

She did renew my Rainforest card for free. We tried to pay her for it, but she wasn't having it. The card gives you priority seating and, even though you can book ressies through Disney, it's still one of the few "walk up" restaurants, so it's beneficial if you don't have a ressie and, even if you do, they still seat those with the cards first. It also gives you 20% discounts on your food and merchandise (which pays for the cost of membership easily the way we shop).

Anyhoo, in 2012, although they still had Guinness, we went with the fruit drinks (and the collectors glass):
I don't actually remember what the drink was, and none on the menu are ringing a bell, so they must have been speciality seasonal drinks or something

I almost forgot to take pictures of our appetizers that year, so they are almost all gone, but I had the Brachiosaurus Bruschetta and I'm not sure if Amber had the Colosso Nachos or not, but it looks like it:

I had the Stegosaurus Steak and Cheese, but mine was a bit more skimpy than Am's 2009 sandwich, even though my homemade fries were MUCH better than her homemade potato chips:

And Am had the Bronto Burger:

In all honesty, the food is pretty "routine", meaning you could probably get the same at your local all-purpose restaurants like Applebees and such. It's the atmosphere and experience that excels here (even if it's a bit upsetting every 30 minutes). Because of the theming though, there are a LOT of kids, so if you are without, you might want to prep for that.

T-Rex has a much smaller gift shop compared to Rainforest, and there is where Rainforest excels (you can still go into the gift shop without a reservation and we tend to hit both shops whether we eat there or not). T-Rex is the only Build A Bear location on site (although it's Build A Dino).
Which leads me to a mini-rant about Build A Bear...I get the idea of it, but the sight of those gutless creatures in bins just CREEPS me out! I literally get chills when I see them! I have been known to cover my eyes when passing a BAB in a mall, it's that upsetting to me! And the sight of a child pumping guts into one of them is the WORST! How do people think that this practice is not only OK, but cool? UGH! Oh well, soapbox dismount (I haven't been up here in a while, I kind of missed it) and let's end here.


Linda said...

Awesome pictures Keebles. The food looks great.


Justine said...

I'm with you on BAB! I don't like animals in clothes though so I would never go in there. I'm enjoying your Disney posts even though I've never been.