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Thread: T-Rex...

  1. #1

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    T-Rex...

    I had the chance to visit the newly opened T-Rex Restaurant at WDW's downtown Disney.
    I was very much looking forward to see this place as I was pleasantly surprised by what I had seen from the outside days before the grand opening.
    Tonight, I returned in hopes that the place and food would live up to it's anticipated hoopla.

    I was disappointed. Not by the decor nor the food, mind you, but by the ambiance.

    T-Rex definitely aims for a very elaborate themed experience... and it nearly delivers that. The building itself has very nice artistic touches, with bushes, rock formations and even a nicely themed waterfall that sadly faces the parking lot. Not all is wonderful here, as many areas of the building look like a plain old painted wall similar to the same treatment that DL's Indy or IOA's Jurassic Park''s backsides got with the tall barrier walls facing public areas. So no.. not all the decor is 100% wonderful.
    The front entrance features a very nice dino-bones structure and an unnecesary sand trap for kids to go barefoot and play along. Think of this as T-Rex's way of entertaining the brats the way McDonald's next door failed too. Yes, folks, there are McD's with NO play areas in this World... shocking!

    Inside T-Rex, I have to admit, the theming was more interesting and elaborate. While the jurassic decor rules.. I do like the distint look of some of the areas... such as what appeared to be the ice age room in the back of the restaurant itself. The bar area however seems disjointed with an underwater look featuring jelly fish and a giant optopus.. Honestly? it screams "overpriced Sushi Bar" to me, without the seafood. The gift shop has an interesting decor that is reminicent of that giant meteor theory that may have killed the dinos way back when.. Further into the gift show is another unnecesary kiddy area of merchandise geared towards the little ones. At this point I was beginning to sense that the place was yet another attempt to attract kids with parents who like to overspend on their vacation. BTW... the merchandise itself..? nothing special. Like it's sister restaurant at the other end of the Village, the merchanside has that generic dino feel, with your obligatory logo tees and such other gadgets and gizmos. Think overpriced Discovery Channel store. Then there are the line of T-Rex characters they are out to sell... like Trixie the dino..
    ARGH!!

    Little things did call my attention.. one of the details that I found interesting, yet had no purpose... was the points of laser lights that project what appear to be small ants walking on the rocky surface above the backside of the gift shop.. For a moment I was mesmerized looking at it as if it was bugs crawling on the rocks. I do not think anyone else noticed that.

    In the big things that did call my attention... they do have AA dinos in most areas inside the facility but most focal was the T-Rex that sits just inside the doors. It's roars and nods its head as if it was in attack mode. Those are required touches to bring the theme to life.. but honestly, I felt these AA dinos have nothing on the 26 yrs old dino AA's at Universe of Energy. They are not Disney quality, but I did not expect that in a place not run by Disney. Think Jurassic Park the ride AAs in a restaurant setting.

    The Food: I can not comment on this. I was willing to wait the 90 mins for a table and try some of the little menus items.. like the T-rexadillas, Layers of the Earth Lasagna, and many other diner joint food options with cutesy names like that. I was not impressed with many of the menu choices and it didn't help the menu sign did not fit well in the frame that holds it outside the place, but just pouring down the menu list, it became apparent to me this is an overpriced tourist trap/diner-quality joint. Not necesarily the place for a special dinner night out. However, I was willing to give it a try, and after reserving a time slot to seat down and eat, just 10 mins. into my wait time to be seated, I just could not take it anymore.. and you may ask.. What did you TDLFAN could not take anymore??

    Glad you asked!!

    THE NOISE!! From the moment I was within 100 feet of the building's front side and the entire time that I spent inside T-Rex's gift shop... relentless and constant announcements of "parties of X number of people.. your expedition is about to embark" just drove me nuts! The screechy female voice was so so so so so loud inside that building and so so so so frequent.. my ears were in pain and I just could not take it anymore. Nearby, I found a manager whom I approached and told him that the theme in the place was very nice but the constant noise of the PA announcements made it unbearable... and that was "something you guys need to work on resolving as it destroys the mood of the place". Of course, his polite answer was to thank me for the comment and that he would "look into it". I expect no changes there and as long as they continue using that loud PA system, I doubt that I will ever eat there, much less shop. One more thing, I hope Disney realizes the place is too busy and the bushes outside the building will get destroyed by bored families who are now using them grassy areas as waiting areas for T-Rex.

    So my initial impressions are positive in regards to the decoration and theming of the place. Everything looked nice both inside and outside the building, even with the faux-pas flat walls outside the building itself.. but that is only because everything themed on the building is totally brand new. However, they will need to keep maintaining the props as with the weather in Orlando, I can see these dino props covered in mildew by late next year... so I hope they are up to that challenge, or else, T-Rex will look like crap soon.

    Still, due to all of that noise I experienced today.. I can not recommend this place for a long term visit, such as having dinner. It's besides me why they can not offer those vibrating remotes to advise parties when their sitting time has come, instead opting to scream over a loudspeaker.. and trust me it does NOTHING to add to the overall theming of the place. I have also commented on this problem in regards to Rainforest Cafe.
    Maybe sometime, I will get the chance to eat there and change my mind but in the meantime...

    ..TDLFAN rates T-Rex Restaurant: 2** and a half stars out of 5.

    One more thing... do yourself a favor and do not try finding a parking space close to T-Rex at busy times such as friday evening... you will not find one. Better park at the other side of Cirque Du Soleil and walk over...and if you are lucky, you may choose to do another restaurant in the west side area of DTD... which are better places to eat anyways, that is.. if you do not mind overpaying.

  2. #2

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    Re: T-Rex...

    You want to know what's sad? Where I live, we have two of the resturants associated with the parent company of T-Rex. We've ate at Rainforest twice, but never at Aquarium (and yet they both can be found in the same mall). After seeing video of the resturant from Attraction Magazine's YouTube channel, I have to say that I am equally not impressed by it. It looks like an unholy merger between those two resturant franchises with a dinosaur theme overlayed on it to call it "new."

    But your report on your experience with the resturant is par for the course. I can say from first hand experience that it doesn't matter if it is Aquarium or Rainforest, but those kind of resturants do act and function exactly like that. It doesn't surprise me that T-Rex would have the same problems.

    Still, the food is good if over-priced for my budget. That's why we only go to those resturants when we feel like splurging but don't feel like taking out a loan at one of the fancier (and quieter) resturants around town.
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  3. #3

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Thanks for the report TDL, about what I expected. I don't know why they bother adding chain restaurants like this in DTD? Let alone two so similar as Rain Forest Cafe and T-Rex... It's a novelty for folks who don't have one in their area but once you do and you can go anytime for less money they quickly loose thier appeal.

    I have to agree with the Noise, I really wish they would just invest in some pagers, I would think Disney would pay for it if they could find ones that had range that would work inside world of Disney. The constant "Smith Party of 5, Jones party of 3, yadda yadda your party is about to embark!" over and over gets old very fast. That and they have to compete with the noise of the restarant and the thunderstorms in RFC we just don't go anymore due to the noise, even to the point of avoiding that entrance in the mall on busy nights. I don't know how the employees can stand to work there without permament hearing damage.
    Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

  4. #4

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Thanks for the review, TDLFAN. Too bad you didn't bite the bullet and stayed to give us a full dining review!


  5. #5

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerren View Post
    I don't know how the employees can stand to work there without permament hearing damage.
    Our second trip to our local Rainforest, I noticed that the servers all had duel-speaker hearing aids. They looked like a bunch of safari guides with iPods, but I think its to help them cope with the sound levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeland View Post
    Thanks for the review, TDLFAN. Too bad you didn't bite the bullet and stayed to give us a full dining review!
    I bet he'd do that if someone else paid for his meal like a proper press dining review. That's the only way I would stay in another one of those resturants no matter who owned it.

    In fact, that's how one of the local "eats critiques" reporter goes about it. She gets all her friends, each with a different sense of taste so she can cover a wide spectrum of the menu, and the newspaper she works for pays for the whole dinner since it's a business expense.
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    Re: T-Rex...

    Downtown Disney isn't really an area aimed at locals. As such, T-Rex will fit in fine. It was almost impossible to get a seat at Rainforest, so adding another restaurant of similar theme will help. Lines already have pushed well around the building. This restaurant will stay as full as Rainforest does every night, I guarantee it.

    Secondly, the restaurant isn't really aimed at you TDLFan, its aimed at families and families with children will love it. I'm excited to take my son there when he's old enough, heck, I'm excited to take myself there (I love Dino's). I do agree that they could tone down the noise level at both of these restaurants and I wish they weren't quite so expensive for what seems to be from all accounts relatively average food.

    That said, if you go in expecting that type of food and realize you're going for the atmosphere more than anything I think families will have a good time. Its not the kind of place you go if you want to have a nice quiet dinner with friends over good conversation. But if its a place to give adequate food to a family on vacation not looking to take themselves too seriously with children who love dinosaurs, then I think it'll do quite well.

  7. #7

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeekSlider View Post
    I bet he'd do that if someone else paid for his meal like a proper press dining review. That's the only way I would stay in another one of those resturants no matter who owned it.

  8. #8

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Seriously. If you are getting paid to do a write up about a resturant, you would stay longer and get all the nitty-griddy details that TDLFAN does in his trip reports. This would include everything involving the resturant such as abiance, table layout, server behavior, if the manager or head cook came out to ask how your meal was (which is VERY RARE by itself), and even things like the texture of the food or the richness of flavor. Things that I would bet hard mone that TDLFAN would definately take note of if paid to do so.
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  9. #9

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    Downtown Disney isn't really an area aimed at locals. As such, T-Rex will fit in fine.
    You are absolutely correct. No respectable local would ever get caught in the tacky dinner offerings at DTD, reason why I would take Earl's of Sandwish any day, any time of the day.

    It was almost impossible to get a seat at Rainforest, so adding another restaurant of similar theme will help. Lines already have pushed well around the building. This restaurant will stay as full as Rainforest does every night, I guarantee it.
    Them tacky tourists.. what do they know? Nothing apparently.
    Secondly, the restaurant isn't really aimed at you TDLFan, its aimed at families and families with children will love it.
    I think the fact that I am willing to go try this place and throw my money away with the same pleasure as the most clueless tourists would, should clue Disney into also marketing this place for those who hang out at WDW often. Sadly, Disney seems only interested in my money during gay Days.. because people like "me" with disposable incomes can affort it. If what you are saying is correct, then a sign outside T-Rex advising "Families with Children ONLY" should go up in the entrance, don't you think? Of course... maybe I am mistaken but children do not have any money to spend at T-Rex, nor the rest of DTD's overly expensive options..
    Also please.. remember it's "TDLFAN" (all caps letters).

    if you go in expecting that type of food and realize you're going for the atmosphere more than anything I think families will have a good time. Its not the kind of place you go if you want to have a nice quiet dinner with friends over good conversation. But if its a place to give adequate food to a family on vacation not looking to take themselves too seriously with children who love dinosaurs, then I think it'll do quite well.
    It will do well.. thanks to people like you. Me? I expect more for my money. So you go ahead and enjoy it.
    Last edited by TDLFAN; 10-23-2008 at 06:23 PM.

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by kcnole View Post
    Secondly, the restaurant isn't really aimed at you TDLFan, its aimed at families and families with children will love it. But if its a place to give adequate food to a family on vacation not looking to take themselves too seriously with children who love dinosaurs, then I think it'll do quite well.
    As a mother with a little boy I don't think it would be appealing to dine in the setting that TDLFAN describes. It sounds like a big overpriced headache and our family is just not into that.

  11. #11

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    Re: T-Rex...

    Wow TDLFan! You actually took it easy on the place compared to what I thought. I thought it was just a big, loud mess.
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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by ichigopara View Post
    As a mother with a little boy I don't think it would be appealing to dine in the setting that TDLFAN describes. It sounds like a big overpriced headache and our family is just not into that.
    You must HATE Chuck E. Cheese or anything remotely similar, huh?
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    Re: T-Rex...

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeekSlider View Post
    You must HATE Chuck E. Cheese or anything remotely similar, huh?
    It's case by case, we've never been to Chuck E. Cheese but it's an amusement center isn't it? We take him to the arcade sometimes but amusement centers and dining are different.

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    Re: T-Rex...

    I walked by there last night - what a nightmare for traffic! Everyone wants pictures in front of the dinosaurs, blocking off people trying to walk by.

    The boxes they have for the dinos kids buy are cute, though. They have little tail-holes.

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    Re: T-Rex...

    then a sign outside T-Rex advising "Families with Children ONLY" should go up in the entrance, don't you think? Of course... maybe I am mistaken but children do not have any money to spend at T-Rex, nor the rest of DTD's overly expensive options..
    Also please.. remember it's "TDLFAN" (all caps letters).
    Just to make it clear, I wasn't attacking your opinion TDLFAN. I would agree with you were I heading there with just my wife. If I were to take my son though it would probably be the first restaurant we head for. Certainly there are people without children who will enjoy it as well. Its not just for families with children so no need for a sign, but certainly that's the demographic they're aiming for here and I don't see a problem with it. There are plenty of restaurants at DTD who don't aim at that demographic (Raglan Road, Captain Jacks, and many of the other more upscale restaurants). The fact that people are pouring in there shows that the tourists (and they may be tacky) want something like this, if they didn't there wouldn't be the demand.

    Again, I'm not attacking your opinion for not liking it. I agree with you in many regards. My only point is that there is a large group of people who really do like this and Disney needs to have things out there that appeal to all of them. What you like many families with children will not. That certainly doesn't mean its wrong and I hope Disney keeps things in their parks for everyone.

    Again, I'm not attacking you for your opinion TDLFAN (I got it right that time ). Just pointing out that what you're wanting for out of a restaurant wasn't the demographic they're aiming for. I also think there are things that they put in the parks that appeal to you outside of gay days but I don't know. Is WDW on par with Tokyo or many of the other parks? No, and there are plenty of things I want them to improve on. But they still do a lot of things incredibly well.

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