Restaurantosaurus is an intentionally kitschy dinosaur-themed restaurant (get the name?) in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The menu is a mix of mostly standard American fast food, with no specific twist. It participates in the Disney Dining Plan and is a rare counter service restaurant that accepts Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount. Due to the recent addition of two premium burgers (at least in price) it’s now an exceptional value on the 2018 Disney Dining Plan.
We all know that kitsch is fun. Everyone loves a good restaurant. It’s irrefutable scientific fact that dinosaurs are awesome. So it stands to reason that Restaurantosaurus would be a mind-blowing experience on many different levels. Yet, in reality, it’s awful. This may seem unexplainable, as mixing so much awesome together should simply result in more awesome. However, much like a Slim Jim-flavored ice cream sundae on a bed of BBQ ribs covered in melted cheese, something has gone horribly wrong.
Before we lambaste Restaurantosaurus for its terrible food, let’s look at what it has done right: theme. Restaurantosaurus is over-the-top, and unabashedly kitschy. Some people won’t like the intentional kitsch (with the argument that “organic kitsch” works best), but I think it works well. I’m not normally one to defend Dinoland for its “clever and layered backstory” (I’ve described it more than once on this blog as lipstick on a pig), but kitsch in small doses and not at the expense of substance works.
I don’t think it’s realistic to expect a counter service restaurant themed to dinosaurs to have the kind of high level quality an attraction would, so a small dose of kitsch is a good workaround for the restaurant. It gives something to explore and a way to tell story that doesn’t need to occur at the expense of substance.
The many tacky details of Restaurantosaurus work because they are simply so over the top, and because the expectations aren’t the same for a counter service restaurant as they are for an attraction.
If the “dueling” storyline of Dinorama/Dino Institute had manifested itself in a land with beautiful Institute-based attractions in an immersive land with a companion sub-land on the fringe containing kitschy restaurants and gift shops that helped inform as to the overarching storyline, I don’t think anyone would be complaining.
Instead of a land with substance and artistic merit, we got sub-par attractions and a thick layer of unnecessarily complicated story to explain away why the land is so terrible.
But I digress. The failings of Dinoland are not the failings of Restaurantosaurus. As stated, Restaurantosaurus works of a thematic level.
This is especially clear when going from room to room, and seeing how it’s all, more or less, a hodge-podge of randomness tied together even through random architecture and random music. But it’s only random in the sense that it seems to clash stylistically.
In execution, it somehow makes perfect sense. There are dinosaur puns and decor a-plenty, and the jokes and gags work on multiple levels.
Kids will enjoy the restaurant for its straightforward dinosaur-ness, and adults will appreciate the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) humor.
The intentionally kitschy style may not be for everyone, but dinosaur lovers and fans of this type of humor will enjoy it.
Now…the food. It’s awful. It also has a very limited menu. I don’t know whether this is a strength or weakness…depends on whether you’d rather have more or less bad items from which to choose? (Note: the menu here has changed since we last dined here–its “highlight” is now the Double 1/3 lb Angus Bacon Cheeseburger that is one of the most expensive entrees at Walt Disney World.)
A few of the items are plain versions of base menu items served all over the place, like the Angus Bacon Cheeseburger and the Chicken Nuggets. About the most inventive items are the BLT Salad and the Vegetable Subosaurus.
Since nothing else looked all that inspired (we originally visited Restaurantosaurus because they used to have a highly regarded Shrip Po’ Boy, which is no longer on the menu), I decided to go for the most unique item on the menu, the Vegetable Subosaurus. Calling this disgusting might actually be a little charitable. Since this $9+ sandwich (mine definitely wasn’t “sub” sized, it was just served on a roll shaped like a sub) didn’t have any meat, you think they’d compensate by not skimping on the vegetables, right? Nope.
There were few veggies on the sandwich when it arrived to me. This turned out to be a good thing, as the ones that were there tasted like they had been around since the Triassic Period, or possibly cooked on the pavement in Dinoland a few weeks beforehand. Luckily, there was a toppings bar, so I piled on veggies from there. Just the standards like shredded iceberg lettuce, but still better than whatever they found and threw in my “sub.” Even then, I only finished about half of it. I love to eat, so for me, this is rare.
The sandwich was so bad that I actually considered going back up and ordering something else, but as I examined the trays around us, all of the other options seemed like stripped down versions of offerings elsewhere.
The standard Disney burger that is usually improved upon with other toppings as a signature choice elsewhere, a pretty plain BLT salad, chicken nuggets, and a mac & cheese hot dog (I didn’t see this anywhere, but there was no way on earth I was ordering it, anyway).
Sarah got the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which was significantly better than my “sub,” but was still just a plain chicken sandwich. Not anything we’d highly recommend.
Restaurantosaurus also has a limited alcohol menu, but there’s nothing special on the menu. A couple sugary drinks and a couple of beer choices.
Pictured above is the Safari Amber brewed exclusively for Walt Disney World by AB/InBev; it’s okay, but nothing special.
Overall, almost all of the points scored by Restaurantosaurus are due to what I find to be a clever theme. The only other pluses besides the theme are free drink refills and..uh…air conditioning? That’s all I’ve got. As far as food goes, no one in their right mind should eat here with the excellent Flame Tree BBQ and Satu’li Canteen in the same park. Even if you have picky eaters with you, there have to be better options than this. It’s restaurants like Restaurantosaurus that make no effort towards menu diversity that give Walt Disney World the reputation for having “only” generic theme park food. This is one of, if not the, worst restaurants in Walt Disney World.
Want more dining tips? Check out our 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do you think we were too harsh on Restaurantosaurus? Do you disagree about the food? If you like it, which menu item is your favorite? If you agree with us, share what you’ve ordered here, or any of your other thoughts in the comments!
Wait….has this place always been there? In all my years I’ve never seen it.
For me this is one of the best themed counter service restaurants at Disney World, and that far outweighs the middle of the road menu. Get a burger and fries and plenty of toppings and a Coke and most people go away more than happy with their lunch here, and Will agree that this is one instance where Disney theming transports you to a seemingly magical place.
I have to say at the same time that Flametree barbecue has such a wretched lack of theming that I’ve never really been able to get enthused with the food there even though it is tasty barbecue and I LOVE barbecue. You just feel you’re sitting in the middle of some steamy swamp while you eat your food.
The only reason we chose to eat here is this was the only restaurant that served chicken fingers and french fries, a requirement for the toddlers with me. I much prefer Flame Tree, but this was the only option for the required menu choice. Think they could do a much better job in Animal Kingdom with menu options for little ones.
I think the food must have improved since you wrote your review. We just ate here this past weekend and I loved the grilled chicken sandwich with remoulade so much, I would have ordered it again the next day if we stumbled across a Magic Kingdom quick-service restaurant that served it. And, there’s no way those were McDonald’s fries – they were great! If they were McDonald’s fries, I wish they’d teach our local McDonald’s how to cook them.
Oh. my. WORD!
First of all, I almost spewed my “I am willing to drink this reheated, brewed 10 hours ago coffee because I can’t keep my eyes open and I have 3 more hours here at work” coffee when I read THIS line:
However, much like a Slim Jim-flavored ice cream sundae on a bed of BBQ ribs covered in melted cheese, something has gone horribly wrong.
You are going to make me snort out loud right here in the middle of my office. Shame on you! 🙂
Second, I really, REALLY wish I’d found this BEFORE we went to this culinary wasteland 2 weeks ago. Yuck. I am gluten-free (small blessing!) so I wasn’t subjected to the – um, interesting – sandwich options, but I *did* get the opportunity to get to know the precious cherub behind the counter putting the orders together as it took about 15-20 minutes for me to get my food. My family thoroughly enjoyed watching me eat my meal because they’d already gotten heir food and consumed it before I made it back to the table with my food. Good times…
If you find anything on this website humorous, that’s on you, not me!!! 😉
We waited a while here for our food, too. Maybe that was some sort of warning. Trying to get us to leave?
Not sure how I overlooked this review. I went there for the character breakfast and we had a great time. I don’t remember the food being anything special, just typical character breakfast fare. The waiter/attendant, if you could call him that, because we got our food ourselves, he brought the drinks, I think, made all the difference. He was a show unto himself. He made a lot of jokes and generally kept everyone entertained while eating and waiting for the characters to come around.
As for the kitsch, I think you’re shortchanging it a bit because it’s all on target with it’s story. It’s the institute’s college program mess hall/dorm. Through that lens, I think it’s all spot on, not just kitsch for kitsch’s sake. There’s the one spot that’s sort of a semi-hidden loft that you can see the entrance of and some of the records, etc. I agree that the story in Dinoland is not very obvious and given that, it can feel like a stretch in terms of story if you’re not aware of it, though. When you are, though it works much better.
I was actually kind of sad that the character breakfast had moved UNTIL:
We went to Tusker House and it was cool, lots of neat details, etc. Not as much humor, but equal in terms of appropriate theme, etc. But whoa! The food is SO good there. Saurus, like I said, didn’t leave a lasting impression on me in terms of food, but Tusker was fantastic. The characters don’t seem quite as at-home in Tusker House, but it’s easily overlooked. Why they don’t have africa-specific characters (Lion King, Jungle Book, etc.) plus safari Mickey, I don’t know, but whatchagonnado?
I usually agree with your reviews but this is our favorite counter service in Animal Kingdom and maybe even all of WDW! We do love the theme and the fun dinosaur-related music they play and we’ve found the food to always be consistently fresh, in contrast to Flame Tree which at times can be a bit leathery. We don’t enjoy Disney pizza, i.e. Pizzafari and we don’t want to sit in the hot sun eating Yak and Yeti fast-food, dumbed-down Asian counter service. Compared to other counter-service “generic” cuisine, Restaurantosaurus has soft chicken nuggets, rather than hard little stones. This is pretty important to a kid that has to eat a lot of those over the course of a 10-day stay. And that veggie sub is actually pretty yummy to us folks who don’t want a burger or salad. The one they serve is hot, unlike some of the others on WDW property, like Cosmic Rays – Yuck! We add warm grilled onions and sauteed mushrooms from the fixings bar to ours and it’s a nice meal. They also serve sweet potato fries which are such a nice change from plain old fries. My newest favorite drink at WDW comes from here as well — Lychee Lemonade. You have to use a snack credit for this, I believe, but well worth it.
We really like this place a lot and look forward to it as a respite from the heat and noise, always finding a little nook all to ourselves. Another reason that we eat here every time we visit AK is the service. Unless it’s a very busy day, we almost always get a visit to our table by Rick, the manager, making sure that all is well. How many counter-service places does this happen? The CMs walking about doing their jobs are always friendly and inquiring about how everything is. We always feel like they go above and beyond. When you’re having a long hot day, with a meltdown or two, this is the one counter service restaurant that I actually think helps us decompress.
I’ve always thought that this place is a hidden gem in WDW. While so many other places have CMs that are trying to do less, even being downright rude, and give smaller portions of lower quality dried-out food, Restaurantosaurus stands is serious contrast. I always think it’s improved each time I visit.
Well I will admit that I prefer Reataurantosaurus for the air conditioned space to eat lunch. The food is okay…the chicken sandwich is fine and the condiment bar helps me dress it up even more. I don’t have a lot of expectations for counter service food in the parks so it serves its purpose. I am not a big fan of BBQ so Flame Tree doesn’t work for me. But even if I wanted BBQ I am not sitting outside in the heat and humidity in summer for what amounts to average BBQ.
Bottom line is that there really aren’t any great food options in the parks and I am certain we can all admit that. So we make choices about what works best for our eating styles/preferences.
Well, I am glad we ate their first. My husband ordered while I sat with our six kids. He played it safe with hamburgers and chicken nuggets. They were ok when I compare it to a conventional fast food chain. (because everything is better at Disney, right?) Although, a Burger King burger would have been pretty good, haha! In defense of Disney, they serve millions of people a day. I am satisfied with the quality of food they attempt to serve us…even if it is gross compared to Cinderella’s Royal Table breakfast.
Thanks to you and your lovely wife for having this blog! “We are eternally grateful!”
104 days to go!
From the looks of that sub, you may have been too generous with the 3.5 rating. It is amazing to me the vast differences between Walt Disney World cs restaurants. Luckily, most choices are on the other side of the spectrum from restaurantosaurus!!
That rating is almost solely because of the ambiance. That sub alone would’ve earned the restaurant a negative score!
I actually ate here like 3 years ago (We really don’t like AK too much and we usually eat at Rain Forest Cafe) and I remember eating the angus burger. It was pretty good. Better than some burgers I’ve eaten around property. The vegetable sandwich looks pretty gross though. Yuck!
I’ve never been here but I have an employee who did an intern at Disney and this was his post and he told me it’s the worst food on property. Thankfully we have Tusker House, Flaming Tree, and the all important Dawa Bar to visit on AK trips.
What a hilarious review! It’s certainly not very often that I’m sold on visiting a restaurant … but not buying any food from it. Maybe I’ll make my way over there if I ever feel like fries and a Coke.
It may seem funny, but don’t laugh off these warnings…OR YOUR DESTINY WILL LIE BEYOND THE GATES OF DOOM!
“You seek the future. I will lift the curtain of time. It is your destiny…”
I think this wouldn’t be all that bad of a CS place in DHS or MK. It might even be above average at DHS! The fact that it is so close to Flame Tree and Yak & Yeti makes it suffer in comparison. (We’ve been to WDW 4 times since my daughter was born, and probably eaten at least 8-9 CS meals in AK, but we’ve only been here once.)
DHS gets ragged on for its counter service restaurants, but I actually don’t think they’re half bad. Every single one of them (that we’ve been to) has at least one stand out item, even if the menu overall is not the most inspired. I need to get around posting reviews of some of those locations.
You didn’t give up my Mcdonald’s fries lol. All fries served in Disney themed restaurants are Mcdonald’s fries. As a former cast member I completely agree that the food Restaurantosaurus serves is below par with others in the park. There is a cast member only restaurant located backstage behind Restaurantosaurus appropriately named Castosaurus which served up the same awful food for about half the price. It was never too busy haha Though the Dinoland theming continues heavily backstage and offers up an explanation as to the name Restaurantosaurus, that some college interns named it this way as a joke and Disney imagineers took it seriously.
I thought Disney was not serving McDonald’s fries anymore. All the stands serving their fries seem to have been closed.
Jacky, you are correct. Also, as far as the name and the college interns go, that (sort of) is part of the backstory written by Imagineering. College interns didn’t *actually* name the restaurant that as a joke.
And to think we gave up McDonald’s for this.
OH, THE HUMANITY!!!! 😉
Your last sentence sums up how I would describe the restaurant. The restaurant is nice and a place I’d actually want to linger, but the food is exactly what a lot of people imagine and dread about theme park food.
I agree that the vegetable sandwich is terrible. The burgers and chicken nuggets are fine but nothing special. One thing Restauranotsaurus has going for it is free self-serve refills on fountain beverages. I’d give it a bonus point for that, although more soda increases the chance that your paper straw will go bad before the meal is over. Also, if you make the mistake of ordering the veggie sandwich, you can compensate by getting a tasty ice cream cookie sandwich at the adjacent Dino-Bites Snacks.
Forgot about the free refills. Added a note about that to the review. Thanks!
Shame that they no longer do the character breakfast here. It was great, and a much better atmosphere than Tusker House.
Never did the character breakfast there, but I LOVE the meal at Tusker House. It’s our favorite character meal at Walt Disney World.
Try Pizzafari for a quick AK breakfast. They have a really good goat cheese and spinach fritatta that isn’t bad (compared Disney’s typical “scrambled eggs”).
*sigh* I miss that Shrimp Po’ Boy. We really have no reason/desire to eat there again unless they bring it back.
Are you suggesting that bland, stereotypical theme park food is not a reason to eat there? Think of the dinos!!!
I think the fact that presence of dinosaurs is not even enough of a redeeming factor should tell people all they need to know about this place. SHUT IT DOWN.