by Brady Aymond

Ever wish you were Fred Flintstone, living back in the Stone Age days, capable of driving up to the Drive-In restaurant in Bedrock and ordering a rack of Brontosaurus Ribs? I know I have, and if you say you haven’t, you’re lying. Haha. Well, thanks to the fine folks at Landry’s, Inc., you get to somewhat experience what it was like for Fred, Barney, Betty and Wilma during those days with the T-Rex Café, a Prehistoric Family Adventure. Today, I’ll give my review of our dining experience at T-Rex Café in Dowtown Disney.

For a “dark” restaurant, I found it to be pretty inviting. The outside of the building is shaped to look like you’re entering a cave, and the darkness inside the building continues that theme. I think the one thing that detracted from the atmosphere, to me, was the gift shop immediately to your right as you walk to the check-in stand. I don’t necessarily mind a gift shop, but maybe keep it hidden if you’re trying to pull off the prehistoric theme.

Also, and this is nitpicking, but the servers attire could have been more age-authentic. They looked like your ordinary Chili’s or Applebee’s servers. Maybe some sabretooth tiger print shirts or something would have helped.

I liked the theme of the restaurant (outside of the gift shop). It’s divided into a few dining areas – an underwater area with an octopus spread out over the bar, the ultra-cool ice cave room, the meteor shower room and a back dining area that resembles a fern forest. I personally love the ice cave room with its cool blue surroundings, but we were seated in the meteor shower room, which seems to be the main dining area. I got up and checked out the other areas, and the forest area was pretty cool with audio-animatronics all over the room. We got a couple of really cool pictures inside that area.
The cool thing about the meteor shower room is that every 15-20 minutes, there’s a meteor shower. All the animals start to bellow and screech and a meteor shower is simulated on the ceiling and the walls. The bad thing about the meteor shower room is that every 15-20 minutes, there’s a meteor shower. When you sit down for an hour-long meal, the third meteor shower gets to be annoying.

I wish I could say our server was in character and made our experience an awesome one, but he was just meh. He seemed pretty uninterested in working. He did give us good recommendations, but seemed to rush through everything. The other thing that kind of irked me was when we asked if T-Rex accepted Tables in Wonderland, he tried to pitch the Landry’s, Inc. club card. Thankfully, T-Rex does have an annual pass discount (it’s also on the dining plan, FYI). As far as his “service” he was prompt with our food and refills. He just always seemed rushed, which I guess is probably needed in a restaurant that fills up fast.

If you thought I was only kidding about the Brontosaurus Ribs thing earlier, think again. If you don’t plan on arriving at T-Rex with an empty stomach, you may want to reconsider. Portions are LARGE here. For an appetizer, we went with the Pterosaur Wings (buffalo wings). The wings are standard chain restaurant variety wings. I think it was 8-10 wings, if I remember correctly. There are nine apps on the menu, and the most popular seems to be the Colosso Nachos, emphasis on Colosso. The table next to us got it – as their entrée. It was a couple and that’s all they ate. It was a huge platter of nachos topped with beef, pico de gallo, black beans, green onions, cheddar cheese, queso and sour cream. It packs quite a punch, and at $15.99, it can easily be subbed for a more expensive entrée.

Because we had eaten a very late breakfast, we didn’t partake in any soups or salads and went from the appetizers to the entrees. Again, we weren’t overly hungry so we decided to order two entrees and share between the four of us (two boys, 8 and 5). My wife and youngest son shared the Fire-Roasted Rotisserie Chicken. My oldest son and I shared the Mega Mes-O-Bones full rack. Before we ordered, I had my sights set on the Boneyard Buffet (our two entrees combined on one nice platter), and I’m glad I ordered with my stomach and not my eyes. The Mega Mes-O-Bones were plenty enough for me and my oldest son, who I should mention can tear through a half-rack of ribs like it’s nobody’s business. We each took a half-rack and both had ribs left over when we were full. My wife and youngest son barely made a dent in their chicken.

As far as the quality of the food, I’d say it’s above average. I don’t know if you quite get what you pay for, but I don’t think you get ripped off either. Our rack of ribs set us back $27.99 and the chicken was $19.99. In case you’re wondering, that Boneyard Buffet is $27.99, so it’s not a bad deal if you want to get a half-rack of ribs to go with the chicken. Most of the dishes range from $13.59 for the sandwiches to $32.99 for the choice Tyrannosaurus T-Bone.

I should mention there are other things on the menu besides beef, pork and chicken, such as seafood dishes and pasta dishes, but this place is definitely for the carnivore-lover in your family. If you’re looking for a nice vegetarian plate, try somewhere else.

If I had to put a numerical figure on the experience, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 4. I thought it was pretty fun and neat and all that jazz, but at the same time, I don’t know if I’d rush back to the place. The food was good for chain restaurant fare. The service could be better, but I think those servers are taught to turn-and-burn to keep the flow going in and out of the restaurant.

A sticking point for a lot of people might be the price. It can get really expensive, especially if you go in there with big appetites and everyone in your party gets an entrée. You could easily run up a $125 tab on a family of four. Now, you’ll get plenty of food for that $125, but it’ll put a dent in the wallet. We shared entrees and one appetizer and still ended up paying $75.

If you’ve never been, I would have no problem recommending you checking it out. Make sure you bring a big appetite and enough dough. If you’re a fan of Rainforest Café, then you’ll also love this place.
If you’ve been before, you’d probably be better off taking your money and your time to one of your family favorites instead.

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