Alrighty Guys, it is time. We are heading over to Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney to travel back 200 million years for dinner.
We’ve gotta do T-Rex again.
This super-themed-to-the-max restaurant is the sister of Rainforest Cafe. If you’ve been to one, you have an idea for the feel of the other (even if the themeing is different).
I’ll confess I wasn’t looking forward to this Advance Dining Reservation with great anticipation. But every restaurant at Disney deserves a little love from me, right? After all, it’s my job. So on a recent visit, over I went to check out if my experience would be better, worse, or the same as my previous visit.
Besides, there’s a Cotton-tini involved this time! More on that just around the corner. Let’s go!
As you probably expect, there’s a whole lot going on when you walk inside T-Rex. The outside view of rock outcroppings and dinosaurs give you an idea of what you’re in for.
Once your eyes adjust, you’ll notice that there are four major themed areas inside the space. The bar is themed to look like an Undersea Scene, complete with a giant, moving octopus. (What?! It’s true!) You’ll see some jellyfish floating above you too.
You may recall this area experienced a little drama last year, when one of the cylindrical aquariums started gushing water right in the middle of meal service! Fortunately, fish and diners alike were all fine. (See the video here.)
The floors throughout the restaurant are themed as well. Check out the watery undercarriage of the Undersea Scene. These are actually tiles printed like water.
The themeing throughout the restaurant does vary a bit. A lot actually. Beyond the sea, you have a verdant Forest Area, where you can sit in the belly of a Triceratops if you’d like. (I have asked how I can get this table. I want to sit in that Triceratops. If any of you are willing to join me on a Triceratops challenge, let me know and we’ll go and wait for this table some night!
And then, there’s the Meteor Shower Room. Somehow you are simultaneously on Earth and viewing Earth. (Don’t think about it too hard.) You’ll find the star of the show here — T-Rex himself.
Be forewarned — this room is very, very loud at regular intervals. Like every 10 minutes, when meteor showers rain down from the heavens.
Did I mention that it’s loud??
Seating near the animatronic dinosaurs brings your experience to life. And for educational value, they have plaques scattered throughout the scenes that tell a little about the creatures.
In the Meteor Shower Room, you’ll also find the KITCHEN OF FIRE. (I can’t help it with the caps. It’s such a dramatic name. You should also imagine an echoing, booming voice.)
The fire is actually a pretty cool touch. If you think so too, you might enjoy sitting nearby.
This Wooly Mammoth and her Wooly Babies are hanging out near the ice cave.
And speaking of the Ice Cave…it really is spectacular. It makes you feel like you should go and grab a jacket!
Lights change throughout the area as you dine, creating a dazzling effect. You’re surrounded by ice, and there’s a T-Rex skeleton encased in the frozen wall just ahead of you.
That said, I DO always request NOT to be seated in the Ice Cave. The lighting is such that your food always looks either purple or blue…and never the color it’s actually supposed to be. That’s pretty unappetizing to me, and when I’m paying T-Rex prices, I want every possible shot at enjoying what I order.
So, we were initially seated in the Undersea area, which I thought was awesome. But when I got to the table, it was RIGHT next to the kitchen. We requested to be seated elsewhere, and were brought over to the Forest area…right NEXT to the Triceratops. Sigh. Maybe next time.
Good times straight ahead.
So, we mentioned this before, but it certainly bears repeating. The menu here, especially by Disney standards, is massive. Like, 6 pages long. So expect to pour over it for a while.
But the first two full pages are made up of Beverages. Once you get your drink order sorted out, you’re a third of the way home.
And there are some interesting options. We noticed they’re very proud of the Category 5. Maybe ’cause it’s hurricane season?
And so we decided to give it a try. It’s very tropical-fruity with a bit of a punch on the back end — just what you want a vacay drink to be. (Oh, and you get the glass to take home!)
Another member of our party knew right away what she was having (well, she may have had a little urging from me) — the house exclusive Cotton-Tini! This drink has been a legend for a while now. I’ve even wondered if it inspired similar drinks, like the Cotton Candy Lemonade at Everything Pop Food Court, and the new (to us anyway) Carnival Cocktail at Chester & Hester’s Dino-rama.
Now, there’s a whole little show that goes along with this drink. First, your server will place a martini glass with a tuft of Cotton Candy in front of you.
Next, he or she will go to town, shaking up the liquid portion of your cocktail in a vibrantly-colored Shaker. The cool part? You’ll take the shaker home with you at the end of the night!
Once the drink is properly chilled, it’s strained through the lid onto the waiting cotton candy cloud.
And that’s where the magic starts to happen. Blue cotton candy + a yellow cocktail mix = a lovely, bright green cocktail!
Wait for it…
Ah! Green! See — I told ya. And it pretty much tastes like sour apple candy in liquid form. This is one fun drink.
There are lots of other drinks to choose from, including a small selection of Beer and Wine. You’ll also find some specialty Non-Alcoholic Drinks.
Another dining companion went for a Blue Moon, one of the beers T-Rex featured on tap.
With drinks to sip on, we turned our attention to the rest of the menu. Basically, there’s a page or so for nearly every category.
As you’re reading through the menu, be sure to notice the background of each page. They represent the different zones within the restaurant itself.
Be prepared to have a sense of humor where the food names are concerned. You’re about to encounter lots of MEGA- this and PALEO- that. They don’t pass up a single opportunity for prehistoric-inspired alliteration. It makes ordering a pretty funny affair.
The menu wraps up with Seafood and Desserts on the same page. A little strange, but I suppose it’s practical and a paper-saving measure.
I’ve also included the back of the menu, which tells a little about the restaurant’s theme. It’s also worth mentioning that T-Rex is a Landry’s restaurant. If you enjoy this family of eateries, you may want to look into a Landry’s Select Club membership. It could save you money.
We made our selections, and soon the food began to arrive. I enjoy starting a meal with soup and so I gave the Lava Tomato Basil a try. It was highly recommended by our server, and the generous portion was creamy with good tomato flavor. It’s also served in a little pot with garlic bread. Fun!
We also ordered the Megalosaurus Mozzarella to share. The platter offers two takes on Fried Cheese — traditional Mozzarella Cheese Sticks as well as something called Seared Mozzarella. While we ate the sticks with our fingers, we dipped forkfuls of the latter into the Marinara Sauce that accompanied them.
This stuff was pretty standard, though the seared mozzerella definitely had the better flavor of the two versions.
One of my friends ordered the Bronto Burger. This was a pretty substantial burger with all of the trimmings, including a thick-cut, breaded Onion Ring. Burgers and sandwiches now come with your choice of side, and he went for the Red-Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes.
Another dining companion opted for the comfort food option, Cretaceous Chicken Fried Steak. The portion was enormous! Seriously, it’s huge. The dish could easily be split by two hungry people.
Our other friend opted for a lighter dish and went with the Wooly Mammoth Chicken. (No, I have no idea what’s wooly about it.) Served with a bountiful side of Sauteed Vegetables and Peas, this was the most green we saw on our table. (Well. Besides my drink. ) She appreciated the lighter Grilled Chicken and flavorful Tomato Sauce. There was also Sauteed Spinach in there! And the Red-Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes provided a rich component to the dish.
Finally, we get to my meal! And I opted for the Neanderthal (???) New York Strip. The Charbroiled Steak comes topped with a knob of Compound Butter, and is served with Red-Skinned Garlic Mashed Potatoes. (Apparently it was a mashed potato kind of night.)
To that, I was invited to add another side, so I chose the Cinnamon Apples. The plate was picture perfect. My sides were delicious, but I didn’t eat too much of my steak. It looks great, but it didn’t taste as fantastic as I wanted it to. It was pretty gristly, so getting to the actual flavor took some doing. Unfortunate; I was really looking forward to it when it landed in front of me.
After big plates of food and plenty of other things to eat and drink, we could have skipped dessert. But we didn’t!
We all decided that Chocolate sounded best, and so it was a logical choice to try out the Chocolate Extinction. This is a platter of dessert, with four big servings of Chocolate Layer Cake, four scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream, and Whipped Topping. It says it can feed four, but I figure twice as many people could have gotten a fork in there, especially after a big meal.
Cool picture, eh??
The dessert was pretty good, but it could have used a LOT more Sauce. But isn’t that always the case? The Heath Bar Toffee Crumbles on top were a nice touch, though.
And on that (chocolate) high note, we wrapped up our meal and headed out for more Downtown Disney fun.
What can you say about T-Rex? I have been thinking about it. And the profound statement that I have to offer is — it is what it is. This is not a gourmet meal. But it’s not supposed to be. The atmosphere continues to be the draw, and the food is adequately rises to the occasion. Sadly, the prices are significant; so if you don’t have a person in your party who’s going to be wowed by the atmosphere or can’t wait for that Chocolate Extinction, you may find it to be too hard on the wallet for what it offers.
It’s not the worst restaurant that I’ve been to, but it doesn’t hold any particular charm for me. Still, I know for all of its detractors, T-Rex has some die-hard fans. So let’s hear from you: Is T-Rex a must-do, or a must-skip? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!