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T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure Opens Today!

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:22 am    Post subject: T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure Opens Today! Reply with quote

Disney's new dinosaur-themed restaurant opens today
Scott Powers | Sentinel Staff Writer
October 14, 2008

Downtown Disney guests can dine face to face with a dinosaur at T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover, which combines table-service dining and retail in an interactive prehistoric environment built around water, fire and ice. The restaurant is operated by Landry's Restaurants. (WALT DISNEY CO.)

T-Rex is the kind of restaurant where parents might encourage their children to go dig in the dirt before dinner.

"It's nice dirt. It's clean dirt," said Keith Beitler, Landry's Restaurants' senior vice president and chief operating officer for specialty restaurants. "It's Disney dirt."

T-Rex is a big, brash dinosaur-themed restaurant that opens today at Downtown Disney with seating for more than 620, a couple of dozen life-size robotic dinosaurs and real fossils encased in the bathroom walls. Dishes include mushroom ravioli simmering in lobster cream sauce, with Roma tomatoes and fresh spinach.

Collaborators Landry's Restaurants, Schussler Creative and Walt Disney Imagineering, the team that brought Rainforest Cafe to Walt Disney World, aimed at going way beyond that themed restaurant, to create a more interactive mix of décor, show, dining and educational flourishes that Beitler called "eattainment."

Beginning with a children's fossil-dig pit -- where an entire set of replica T-Rex bones is buried -- the restaurant combines activities, prehistoric-themed shows of light, sound and robotic creatures, and American cuisine.

"When you build the Rainforest Cafe, and we did 45 in seven years, and you do Yak & Yeti, the expectations are pretty high," said Steven Schussler, whose company developed the T-Rex concept, just as it did concepts for Landry's Rainforest Cafe chain and Disney's Yak & Yeti restaurant. "People want to know: How do you outdo yourself? How do you make it even better? We tried -- we really tried -- to go over the top."

Expectations are indeed high. The Disney T-Rex occupies a front-and-center spot at Downtown Disney, and is Disney's first big new development in its plans for a new, more family-oriented dining, shopping and entertainment area. Just last month, Disney closed six Pleasure Island nightclubs, and their more-family-oriented replacements will be up to two years away, increasing an already-apparent deficit of dining space.

"T-Rex adds some of the needed seat capacity that we are so lacking down here at this point," said Downtown Disney Vice President Kevin Lansberry. "Plus it's unique . . . highly differentiated, interactive for kids, and it fills an almost attractionlike concept as well as a dining concept."

With T-Rex, open for lunch and dinner, and with prospects for breakfast parties, Beitler hopes it can serve 2,500 to 3,000 diners a day -- as many as 1 million per year.

Landry's, which operates 31 restaurant concepts including Landry's Seafood House, and The Chart House, adapted much of the menu from its other properties, tweaking them for prehistoric flair, Beitler said. Entrées include salads, soups, meat dishes such as the Mega Mes-O-Bones ribs, pastas, seafood and sandwiches. They run from $11.99 (for an 8-ounce Bronto Burger) to $29.99 (Triceratop filet.)

"We took everything we had, and put it around the theme of the restaurant," Beitler said. "We also understand that we are feeding middle America, and we're feeding overseas. We've got to do who we are. We've got to do American cuisine, with a prehistoric flair."

There's also a full-service bar (the Shark Bar) featuring $9.99 T-Rita Cotton Tinis, and a large gift shop that features a Build-A-Dino enterprise created by Build-A-Bear Workshop, where people can put together custom-made plush toys, starting at $15.

Schussler said the restaurant was designed so that first impressions would be "wow!" The outside decor features an exact life-size replica of a 140-foot long Argentinosaurus.

Inside the front door, visitors find a panorama of the Shark Bar with its glowing glass bar, 5,000-gallon shark tank and giant, robotic octopus; a life-size, robotic, tyrannosaurus rex; themed dining areas such as the Geo-Tech Room with its flaming walls; and Ice Cave with its glowing walls.

"Obviously, people come for the 'wow' factor, but they'll come back for quality food and service that Landry's provides," Schussler said. "Without that they wouldn't be coming back."

Downtown Disney's new restaurant appeals to the 'wow' factor

600 Employees

30,000 Square feet in size

620 Seats

$11.95 to $29.95 Entrée prices

$9.99 Cotton-candy

"Cotton-Tini" cocktail

7,000 Gallons of aquariums

140 Species of fish

-- Source: Schussler Creative

Source: Orlando Sentinel;,0,7372627.story

I think we might need to head up there this weekend and check the place out....
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few weekends ago, we found ourselves heading to Downtown Disney and we were getting a little hungry. As we arrived, we had a wonderful idea: try the new T -Rex Restaurant! I must apologize in advanced for the quality of the photos; I did not bring my camera, so all I had was my cell phone camera. And I was also hampered by the fact that my cell only had a small charge left on the battery... next time I will take my camera, I promise! Just click the thumbnails for larger versions of the photos.

So we walked up the main entrance, put our names on the list and waiting (at the time the wait was approx 30 mins)... This was a good thing, because it allowed us to cruise around the shops and exterior to see how everything looked (the restaurant had only been only a week prior to us arriving).

T-Rex Restaurant; Sign over the main entrance of the new T-Rex Restaurant

When you see the restaurant from the parking lot, you are actually looking at the back of the restaurant. The front is actually facing Village Lake (the lake the Downtown Disney surrounds.

Dino bones out front; Just above the main entrance is this huge dino skeleton

To the left of the entrance is a small area for setting, the fun stuff is to the right of the main entrance. There is a children's dig site where kids can uncover a full size dino skeleton and a place where they can even pan for gem stones!

Kids Dig site from outside; Better shot of the kids Dig Site, which also includes a place where you can pan for gems and small fossils!

Kids Dig Site; They even have a small "dig site" for kids to play in viewed from inside the gift shop

Kids Dig Site One Last Time

They also have several other items and skeletons setup around the exterior of the restaurant.

Expedition Jeep Outside; Outside the entrance, beside the kids dig site is this loaded Jeep

T-Rex Skeleton in front of the Kids Dig Site; This T-Rex skeleton separates the Kids Dig Site from the outside world Smile

After exploring the outside, it is time to head inside the gift shop! When you step through the entrance you are greeted by this giant (full size maybe?) T-Rex audio animatronics!

T-Rex AA Inside; Just inside the restaurant is this giant T-Rex audio animatronics..... Very cool!

T-Rex AA Again (Crappy Cell Phone Photo)

And of course, like any self respecting big bully, even T-Rex had his toadies:

T-Rex Little Buddy! On either side of the AA T-Rex, there are two smaller AA dinos

As with the Rainforest Cafe, the theming of this place it out of this world! The ceiling in the gift shop is made to look like our solar system with a giant flaming Sun!

Gift Shop Ceiling; This is the ceiling of the restaurant's gift shop, everything lights up during one of the scheduled "shows"

And in the heart of the gift shop, is a special edition of the popular Build-A-Bear shops, a Build-A-Dino shop!

Build-A-Dino Signage; Inside the restaurant's gift shop, there is a Build-A-Dino Workshop

Every thirty minutes, there is a "show" that happens in every room of the restaurant (each room is themed differently, more on that later). In the gift shop, all of the planets and sun light up and there is also a very colorful light show (along with all of the AA's doing a lot of roaring).

Another shot of the Gift Shop Ceiling

The merchandise is, of course, all themed after dinosaurs and geology. There are dinos of every size and type, cheap gems stones, geodes , etc... all over the place. I tried to get some photos of some of the stuff, but my cell phone was running low on battery power and none of the photos came out.

There is more to pass the time in the shop then just browsing, they have these touch screen terminals throughout the shop were kids (and big kids) can play dino themed games and puzzles.

Dino themed video games; Throughout the gift shop area, there are several touch screen monitors with dino themed games to play

The theming of the restaurant is fantastic and there are AAs all over the place!

Giant Grasshopper; This is a giant grasshopper on the wall between one of the dining rooms and the gift shop

Next we are going to talk about the dining area of the restaurant. Like the Rainforest Cafe (both are owned and operated by the same company), the dining areas are split into themed rooms, the T-Rex restaurant has 5 different themed rooms! Oh and if you find out that you have a favorite room, you can request the room when you leave your name at the desk....

The room we eat in was themed as if it was the top of a volcano! This is the closest dining room at the main entrance and is also where the kitchen is located. You can see portions of the kitchen from this room and there are flames all over the room! The ceiling is done like the open night sky, so you can see stars and the moon. During the "show" a large meteor shower takes place on the ceiling, using projectors, lights, and other effects.... As the show progresses, the meteor show getting bigger and plenty of explosions!

They have another room, which includes the bar area, that has a giant AA octopus hanging in the middle. This room, of course, is themed to the ocean and includes a lot of giant fish and jellyfish!

Octopus AA and Bar Area; The restaurant has a bar and dining area themed to the ocean, this is a big Octopus AA that is over the bar

Above was the last photo I was able to take with my cell phone, because the battery died.... sorry!

They have two smaller rooms to the rear of the dining area that are jungle themed and redwood forest themed. But the one that looked the coolest (no pun intended) was the Ice Cave dining room! This room was covered and surrounded by translucent plastic (to look like ice) and had a blue glow, so the only light are blues and light purples. This dining area features a large woolly mammoth AA and several small and very cute woolly mammoth AAs. During this show, the mammoths roar and the whole room flashes different colors, really cool!

Woolly Mammoth AA from across the restaurant; Looking from the gift shop, under the big T-Rex AA, at the large Wooly Mammoth AA

There was a lot of talk about the amount (and cost) of the fossils that were going to be used in the bathrooms, so we both had to go check them out. I was expecting a decent sized skeleton (still in rock) to be in the bath room, but there wasn't. There were several rocks with small trilobite fossils and a few other really small fossils, nothing really impressive. The floor, walls, and ceiling appeared to be made of marble maybe that is where the money went! Well, there was something pretty cool about their bathroom, everything in the hand washing area was motion activated, including the soap dispenser!

We've covered the gift shop, the theming, even the bathroom... I guess we do need to mention the food. The food was very, very good! We have been to several restaurants that are owned and operated by the same company (including the Rainforest at Downtown Disney, the Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom, and even the Rainforest Cafe at Disneyland) and we have had mixed results. The food at our Rainforest Cafe was pretty good, but it was downright bad at the Yak and Yeti (except for the drinks and deserts).

Well this place had the best food, from the appetizers, to the entree, and the drinks! We were too full to get desert, besides, we are only a few steps away from Ghirardelli’s (why had desert here?). There were other dishes on the menu that sounded very good also, it was a difficult decision for both of us to pick which ones we wanted to try first. Since everything was so good, we will be back to try the others.

We started off with Dexter's Dual Dip for an appetizer. This dish featured two different nacho type dips and chips... very good! Mrsguru had the Lava Tomato Basil Soup and the Triassic Tortellini, both were great! I had the Red Earth Rigatoni which was extremely good! Of course we both had drinks, I believe it was called Caveman Punch, which I highly recommend!
Below are shots of the outside menu board, not that the deserts (which were a little limited, but again, why stay when Ghirardelli’s only a few feet away) and the drinks are not listed on the board:

So all in all, this is a really good restaurant for all ages... great food and of course the kids will love the dinosaurs! If there is anything negative to say, it is probably the overall pricing of the menu, it is a little high for our tastes. Two drinks, appetizer, soup, and two entrées ran us about $80... which is not bad for some places at Disney, but there are other places with food just as good that is a little cheaper.... I'm sure the next time we go, it will be a little cheaper, because discounts don't start until mid January. That is when they will allow the pass holder, cast member, etc... discounts, so that is probably when we will be heading back.

Hope you enjoyed the review and I'm sorry about the photos.... CHEERS!
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like a fun place to go...
But with those high prices I could see that being an obstacle.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like fun.

We might have to try it out when we are there in January.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you make reservations?
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think they are taking reservations right now... I think they will start taking them in January (when the discounts start also). I could be wrong, I would suggest giving Dineres a call.... Smile
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