Tag Archives | Theme Park Dining

Spotlight: T-Rex Restaurant at Downtown Disney

Disney sure knows how to create a memorable experience!  You’ll feel like you’ve gone back to the dinosaur era when you dine at the popular T-Rex at Downtown Disney. This Orlando family restaurant serves a variety of American fare for lunch and dinner, and even has its own Dino-store so you can bring home souvenirs for the family.   You’ll find “gifts fit for any paleontologist” and even Build-A-Dino® By Build-A-Bear Workshop®!

The dinosaur theme is great fun, and was created by the same people behind the Rainforest Café.  The life-size animatronic creatures include dinosaurs such as stegosaurus, triceratops, woolly mammoths, and the famous namesake, the T-Rex.  And, there are many other wondrous creatures within this elaborate décor that includes geysers, jungle greenery, and even massive flames spewing from the Kitchen of Fire!

The food features a great variety of dishes for all, from ‘prehistoric’ pizzas, Brachiosaurus Bruschetta, Giganotosaurus Burger, along with many other sandwich, steak, and seafood dishes.  There’s a kid’s menu, and if you have any special dietary needs or allergies, they are happy to accommodate you; just let them know when making your reservation, which can be made up to 180 days in advance.

Make sure you check out the interactive T-REX experience in the Paleo Zone.  This is one of the few restaurants where you can even get learn something – a pre-history lesson watching their Paleo Screens.  There’s also an opportunity to go on an archaeological Discovery Dig or pan for treasures in Discovery Creek.

At T-REX, you can eat, shop, explore and discover!

$$-$$$, casual dress, American cuisine, reservations recommended 407-828-8739, full bar, open for lunch and dinner
LOCATION: Downtown Disney Marketplace
ADDRESS: 1800 East Buena Vista Drive,Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830 – (407) 828-8739
Service Type: Full Service
Price Range: entrees from $15-$35.99

Spotlight: NBA City at Universal CityWalk

Attention basketball fans!  At NBA City at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk entertainment complex, you can enjoy a great meal while enjoying a total NBA theme.  The design of the restaurant is based on the classic arenas of the 1940’s and 50’s.  You can’t miss the 33-foot tall statue of the NBA’s “Logoman” greeting you outside.  It’s also great fun to check out the basketballs out front, that are imprinted with famous players’ handprints.  You can place your hand on it and see how your hand size compares with theirs, which are HUGE!

All through the Orlando restaurant, you will find awesome photos of famous players in action.  And, you won’t miss any live sports action – there are towering 15-foot video screens and smaller screens throughout the restaurant.  Some play exclusive programming, telling the great stories and rivalries of the NBA and WNBA.  NBA City also is a great place to shop!  You can get all your official NBA gear here, including jerseys, T-shirts, and hats.  They also have a photo area where you can have your picture taken and it appears you are actually a part of the team of your choice – too cool!  There are also several areas where you can practice your shooting skills.  (Some games are additional cost.)  These interactive games are a fun way to keep the kids entertained while you’re waiting for your meal.

The service and food is great, contemporary American cuisine prepared by skilled chefs.  Starters include Parmesan Chicken Tenders, Chorizo Shrimp Skewers and Crab Rangoon. Entrees range from Chicken Bleu Cheese Pasta and Sesame Crusted Salmon to Maple Glazed Pork Chops, Cajun Stuffed Chicken, and Oak-Smoked Baby Back Ribs. They also serve a variety of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and brick oven pizzas, plus mouth-watering desserts.   There’s dining on two levels, with a bar upstairs.  The upstairs area can be reserved for private parties.

Orlando Tourist Tip: Right now, you can take advantage of Universal CityWalk’s meal & movie deal, dinner and a movie for just $21.95. This deal is like sinking a 3-point shot at the game-winning buzzer!

$-$$, casual dress, American cuisine, reservations accepted, full bar, open for lunch and dinner
LOCATION: Universal Orlando CityWalk
ADDRESS: 6068 Universal Boulevard Orlando, FL 32819 – (407) 363-5919
Hours: Opens 11am, Sunday – Thursday, last seating 10:30pm; Fri & Sat last seating 11:30pm
Service Type: Full Service
Price Range: entrees from $10 to $22

Spotlight: Planet Hollywood

Movie buffs, this is the restaurant for you!   Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar offers an extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia.  This planet-shaped restaurant is huge!  Towering on the outside is a spinning globe with “Planet Hollywood” in bright red neon lights. By the entrance to the side, anchored down, sits the Shrimp Boat ‘Jenny’, used in the movie “Forrest Gump”. They have Father Merrin’s cross and purple scarf from “The Exorcist“, Madonna’s high school yearbook AND one of the original blue/white dresses Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz“.  This place is loaded floor to ceiling with tons of stuff like that, everything from the rubber model of Christopher Lloyd that was run over with the steamroller in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” to Terminator’s body cast. In addition, some vehicles used in blockbuster films like Herbie the Love Bug and the Terminator 2 motorbike are hanging by string wires from the ceiling. Scary but cool!

I would recommend requesting a table on the 3rd floor, as it provides a great view of the entire restaurant.  Since this place is literally shaped like a planet, it is split into three separate levels…the rounded off edge of the planet structure makes the inside truly a grand sight to see.

It generally is super-busy here…partially because of its location at Downtown Disney, one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, but also because it’s so unique and everybody wants to see it.  Reservations are recommended, especially for parties of 8 or more.

I thought the food was decent, although a bit over-priced, but I have seen mixed reviews regarding the food quality.  One of the most popular meals is the World Famous Chicken Crunch, which are tender strips of chicken with a crunchy-sweet coating, similar to that of ‘Captain Crunch’ cereal.

Planet Hollywood is a fun place with plenty to see, including wall-to-wall memorabilia and a huge projection screen; a great atmosphere!

$-$$, casual dress, American cuisine, reservations accepted, full bar, open for lunch and dinner
LOCATION: Downtown Disney® West Side Walt Disney Resort – Located adjacent to Disney’s Pleasure Island
: 1506 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
HOURS OF OPERATION: Restaurant: 11am – 1am; Bar: 11am – 2am; Merchandise Shop: 10:00am – 2am
: 407-827-7827
CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED: American Express, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
RESERVATIONS: For group reservations of 15 or more, contact their Sales Office at 407-827-7836.

Universal Studios: Restaurant/Dining Options

Universal Studios Orlando

There are over 50 restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort complex!  One of the newest is the rustic tavern, Three Broomsticks, the official restaurant of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (at Islands of Adventure).  This is where you can dine on authentic British food and try the famous (non-alcoholic) Butterbeer.  Also served here are fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, turkey legs, fresh veggies, and more.  At the back of the Three Broomsticks tavern, is where you’ll find the Hog’s Head Pub, where adults can sample a great selection of beers, as well as wine, spirits, and mixed drinks.

Also located in Islands of Adventure are Café 4, Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, and Mythos Restaurant. Mythos Restaurant was named the world’s best theme park restaurant for six years running.  The unique exterior of towering rock formations with carved ancient figures, and cascading waterfalls set the mood for this dining experience.  Inside, you’ll enjoy the cavernous interior and an outdoor seating area with a spectacular view of the park’s sea and islands.  The gourmet cuisine includes blueberry and pistachio crusted grilled pork, cedar planked Bay of Fundy salmon, gourmet hamburgers and imported pasta. Mouth-watering desserts and a full wine list are also available, as well as a separate children’s menu.  A full-service lunch is served daily.
Price Range: From $10 to $18
Reservations accepted: Call Universal’s Islands of Adventure Reservations at 407-224-4012.

Universal Studios has many in-park restaurants as well, including Lombard’s Seafood Grille, Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, Mel’s Drive-in, Louie’s Italian Restaurant and more.  Lombard’s Seafood Grill is a casually elegant full-service restaurant serving fresh seafood, pasta, and more.  The décor includes a huge saltwater aquarium in the center of the dining room.  Along with the specialty items like New England Clam Chowder, Bay Shrimp Cobb Salad, Seafood Marinara, you’ll also find appetizers, sandwiches, pasta, and scrumptious desserts.  There is a children’s menu available, as well as wine and cocktails.  Full service lunch and dinner are served daily.  Reservations accepted: Call Universal Studios Reservations at (407) 224-3613.

Universal CityWalk boasts more great restaurants.  Here, you’ll find the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., NASCAR Sports Grille, Hard Rock Café, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, and more!  The popular Emeril’s features Creole-based gourmet creations including Roasted Texas Redfish with Homemade Andouille Crust, Fingerling Potato-Cremini Mushroom Hash, Creole Meunière Sauce and Candied Pecan Relish and  Grilled Angus Filet Mignon Au Poivre – Garlic Creamed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Roasted Cremini Mushrooms and a Burgundy-Herb Reduction.  (A second Emeril’s Universal Orlando location, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, is located in the Royal Pacific Resort)
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-3pm daily, Dinner Sun-Thurs. 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Dinner Fri & Sat. 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Price Range: entrees from $21 to $42
Reservations are suggested: Call (407) 224-2424

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville provides a laid-back atmosphere with indoor or outdoor seating, live music nightly, and a “Parakeet Beach” area for the little ones to enjoy.  The décor was inspired by Buffet’s favorite waterfront concerts, and its 3 bars were themed to Buffet fans.  The Volcano Bar is a fan favorite, complete with a giant exploding volcano that erupts periodically. Guess what is erupts with?  Margaritas, of course! Along with the many varieties of margaritas and frozen concoctions, the menu features a combination of Caribbean and Key West cuisine.  Offerings include Conch Fritters, Jamaica Mistaica Wings, Corn and Crab Chowder, Bayou Shrimp Pasta, Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya, Calypso Mahi Mahi, Key Lime Pie, and the ever popular Cheeseburger in Paradise®.
Click here for menu.
Hours: 11:30am – 2:00am
Service Type: Full Service
Price Range: entrees from $10 to $25
Participating Movie and Meal Deal Location: Yes

Regardless of where you choose to dine while visiting Universal Studios, we’d like to hear about your experience – please write a comment below!