Welcome To The Jungle: The Rainforest Cafe

February 12th, 2013 posted by Cheri Sicard

Rainforest Cafe

Scene: Suburban Shopping Mall, USA

– the fluorescent lights glare overhead as signs promising “anniversary sale” or “1/2 price today” entice you towards brightly lit shops. The gentle strains of a muzak version of Twist and Shout float through the air, and the scent of fresh caramel corn and cafe lattes waft on the air conditioned breeze. Ahhh, a little piece of suburban heaven. But wait, what’s that? Just ahead thunder rolls and lightning lights up a night sky. A magical curtain of rain appears and through that curtain lies a mysterious world filled will tropical plants and brightly colored fish and parrots. A world where an elephant or gorilla might graze beside your dinner table. A world where a fantasy jungle adventure comes with a side order of burgers, pasta or dessert. The World of the Rainforest Cafe. Combining good food with entertainment and education is a winning mix for the chain of themed restaurants. Every 18 minutes the entire establishment experiences a “thunderstorm.” Every 12 minutes an audio-animatronic display of wild animals “comes to life” before the wide-eyed stares of children who have run from all over the place to ogle them. The Rainforest Cafe isn’t a good choice if you want to have a quiet, romantic dinner. That’s not why you go there. Believe it or not a couple across the aisle from us seemed to be attempting just that and they appeared a trifle distracted and annoyed by the production. But all the kids in the place were wide eyed and wondrous, a sight we adults don’t see enough of these days. While all the theatrics might make the Rain Forest Cafe sound like a high tech version of Chuck E Cheese, this is a theme restaurant that adults won’t mind going to. The food, although not the primary reason for going to such a restaurant, is actually good! Go hungry because the portions are huge. All of your favorite comfort foods are here, meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast or even vegetarian lasagna, along with a wide selection of appetizers, burgers and salads. There’s a catch of the day along with ribs, steak, pork chops and salmon. A mouth watering array of desserts, including the famous Coconut Bread Pudding, tops off your meal. If you’re not all that hungry, you can shuffle up to the bar, find yourself a giant mushroom to sit on, and order up an exotic cocktail or fresh juice smoothie. As bars go, this one evokes a sense of calm, as you find yourself surrounded by the dazzling color and hypnotic motion of hundreds of tropical fish. One of the most refreshing things about the Rainforest Cafe is that they haven’t forgotten about their theme. Rainforest education abounds. Each restaurant has a complete rain forest habitat where their resident parrots reside. The parrots come out with “their humans” to visit Rainforest Cafe guests from time to time. Each cafe employs a full time curator and a staff of animal care specialists to care for their aquariums and resident parrots. These experts are on hand to share knowledge and answer guest questions throughout the day.

Educations & Activism

Each restaurant has a fiber optic occulus called the “Starscape” that features shooting stars and constellations. The occulus is used as an educational tool during many on-site presentations. Audio-animatronic endangered animals such as dolphins, elephants, rhinos and silver back gorillas are used to help educated cafe guests and the general public about the vanishing animals and habitats of tropical rain forests. Kids of all ages can spend time with Tracy the Talking Tree, a huge audio-animatronic character in the gift shop who shares entertaining and environmental messages every 30 seconds. The restaurants offer a huge educational outreach program. In 1997 alone they did presentations for over 150,000 school children. They also contribute thousands of dollars each year to organizations that help stop the importation of wildlife, and that protect natural habitats globally. All proceeds from the Rain Forest Cafe’s wishing ponds are contributed to organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, The Rain Forest Action Network, The Rain Forest Alliance, and the Center of Ecosystem Survival. There are even machines which collect spare change to help save the rainforest. A mere quarter, that’s right just $.25 cents, buys 90 square feet of tropical rainforest. What a bargain! All in all, both the children and adults in our party had a wonderful time at the Rain Forest Cafe. It is well worth the visit. There’s no better way to escape the blandness to today’s shopping malls.

You can find the Rainforest Cafe in the following locations or visit their web site at www.rainforestcafe.com:

Mall Of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Illinois Gurnee Mills, Gurnee, Illinois Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista, Florida Tysons Corner Center, McLean, Virginia Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise, Florida South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, California The Source, Westbury, New York Downtown, Chicago, Illinois Grapevine Mills, Dallas, Texas Arizona Mills, Phoenix, Arizona Aventura Mall, Aventura, Florida MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada Palisades Center, West Nyack, New York

International Locations

Piccadilly Circus, London, England Cancun, Mexico Mexico City, Mexico

Cheri Sicard (18 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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