We continue from Part…Five of our day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where we started at Flight of Passage bright and early. This is what I’ve accomplished so far:
- Flight of Passage: 7:35am – 8:05am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:06am – 8:19am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:20am – 8:35am
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:46am – 9:16am
- DINOSAUR: 9:30am – 9:42am
- Primeval Whirl: 9:45am – 10:05am
- TriceraTop Spin: 10:06am – 10:18am
- Expedition Everest with FastPass+: 10:23am – 10:36am
- Kali River Rapids with FastPass+: 10:42am – 11:13am
In just over three hours of Park time, I’ve experienced eight different attractions, including Na’vi River Journey twice, just because I love it that much. My longest wait so far was at Primeval Whirl, where I stood in line for about 15 minutes before boarding. It’s 11:13am and at this point, I’ve used two of my FastPass+, which means I have one still in the bank. Of course, my third reservation is for Na’vi River Journey. At this point in the day, it makes some sense to start considering lunch. If I eat now, four-and-a-half hours after I arrived at the Park, I’ll beat the rush. That means a shorter wait to order, a less crowded dining room, and a less hectic overall experience. Disney World is always better with less people.
It does make some sense to use my third FastPass+ before lunch. That way, I can ignore my family during the meal and at a minimum, at least pretend to refresh FP+ availability on my phone. Checking for availability before lunch means I can also schedule my 4th FastPass+ with more lead time. If I ride Na’vi after lunch, at 12:30pm, and then start checking FP+ availability, it’s likely that whatever experience I’m looking for will have a return time at some point further into the future. Immediate return times are the most desirable, and therefore, the least likely to be available. If I check availability at 12:30pm, there might be an Everest for 2:15pm or a Safaris for 3:30pm. If I continue to refresh availability, I can probably find a sooner return time, but it will likely still be 30+ minutes out. If that time is spent eating lunch, then after the meal, I can simply head to the attraction and use my FP+. If I’m not, then I’ll need to find something else to occupy my time after riding Na’vi and before my next FP+ return window opens. At a Park as beautiful as Animal Kingdom, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. But I’ll probably have to attend to my family during that time when I could be ignoring them at lunch. It’s entirely up to you.
These days, with most FastPass+ experiences taken by other guests in advance, booking a 4th FP+ earlier in the day is less of a benefit because we’re basically relying on others to change/cancel their plans and then swoop in and book them once they become available again. Several years ago, there was more FP+ inventory earlier in the day as fewer people would be selecting their FP+ in advance. It still makes sense to book FP+ earlier in the day because you’ll then be able to book more FP+ throughout the day. But you’re going to run into similar availability whether you’re checking at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, etc. The only priority attractions available will be cancellations/changes.
The day of my visit saw just slightly above average attendance, yet there is a queue that winds around outside at 1:15pm in the afternoon. Once you get inside, you’d wait in another winding queue before you’ll be placed in another line at a register to wait to order. Then another line to pick up your food. Of course, mobile order via the My Disney Experience app will reduce that wait by about 75%, but you’ll still be battling full dining rooms and congested spaces. At 11:30am, you’d be able to just about walk right up to order and the dining room would be at least half empty. Those are all good things.
Restaurantosaurus is not where I would typically recommend having lunch. Objectively, Satu’li Canteen and Flame Tree Barbecue offer higher quality food and more unique options. Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, while only offering outdoor seating and with quality and portions that have come down considerably over the last few years, still offers a more interesting menu with passable Asian entrees, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Harambe Market in Africa is also a viable option, offering Chipotle-esque bowls, along with gyros and sausages. There’s also Pizzafari, which is potentially on par with Restaurantosaurus food-wise, serving reheated frozen pizzas for the most part. But you may still find yourself in DinoLand when it’s time to eat with kids who are begging for hamburgers and chicken nuggets.
And because of that, Restaurantosaurus may be where you end up. Let’s see if there are any bright spots on the menu:
While we’ve seen a few interesting items served here over the years, it’s virtually all standard Disney fare that’s available in a number of other Disney quick services at other Parks. But Disney does throw you a bone right off the bat with the $16 “Bacon Cheeseburger Combo – 1/3 LB Angus Bacon Cheeseburger served with French Fries, Warm Caramel Chocolate Brownie, and choice of Beverage.” The burger is available by itself for $13.29 (or without bacon for $12.79), the Brownie is $4.99, and a refillable fountain beverage is $3.99. That’s $22.27 worth of stuff for “just” $15.99. Even if you don’t want dessert, it’s still less expensive to get the Combo than the burger and the drink separately. The toppings bar is also the most expansive on property, so while it’s your usual Disney hockey puck of a patty, you can dress it up pretty nicely. If you’re going to get a Disney fast food hamburger somewhere during your trip, then it might as well be Restaurantosaurus.
We’ll begin with the $13 “Grilled Chicken BLT Sandwich – Grilled Chicken Breast and Thick-cut Hickory-smoked Bacon, Tomato, Arugula, Spicy Aïoli, Toasted Parmesan Crumbles on a Brioche Roll and served with French Fries.” The description certainly sounds promising, but the chicken was so incredibly dry and flavorless that virtually no amount of toppings could save it. It’s also a bad sign when your tomato slice is more substantial than your piece of chicken. I actually think the sandwich would have been better without the chicken, which is not something that I think I’ve ever said. You may luck into a more sizable, juicier piece, but I don’t think there’s any question that the chicken is defrosted and then reheated, poorly, before sitting in a tray somewhere. It’s a shame because there is probably some promise here with a bit of an Italian vibe from the Toasted Parmesan Crumbles and Spicy Aioli. But the dryness of the chicken, coupled with the dry, dense bun, made this a big loser for us. After a trip to the toppings bar, and about a pound of sauteed onions and mushrooms, the sandwich became salvageable. But just barely.
The $11 “Grilled Chicken Salad with Mandarin Oranges and Cranberries – Grilled Chicken on top of Mixed Greens tossed with Feta Cheese, Pecans, Mandarin Oranges, Dried Cranberries, and Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette” was considerably better.
The chicken was similarly dry, but everything else nearly made up for it. The vinegar in the Raspberry-Walnut Vinaigrette added a delicious tartness to the salad, while the walnuts added a roasted, earthy quality that was sweetened up with the raspberry. The slices of Mandarin Orange were plump and juicy, adding a burst of fruit against the tang of the Feta. The Pecans built upon that, adding a nice nuttiness to the flavor profile with a pleasant, soft crunch. Overall, the collection of flavors is tried and true and the execution here is perfect, with the exception of the chicken, which remains bland and bone dry. The dressing did a better job of adding flavor than the sandwich toppings. If you’re looking for something reasonably healthy on the menu, then this would be my choice. It was fresh, light, and filling.
Disney’s standard Chicken Nuggets, served up here as an 8-pack with Fries for $10, is a bit of a guilty pleasure. The breading is thin, crispy, and never oily with a nice blend of spices before giving way to a ton of meaty, satisfying chicken inside. With other items to review, I rarely return to them, but it’s always a bit of a treat when I do. I think you’re much better off here than with the Grilled Chicken BLT. They probably don’t even have more calories.
Breaded Shrimp arrive at the $11 price point, or you can order a mix of Chicken Nuggets and Shrimp for $12. For $11, you’ll come away with eight Shrimp, meaning they cost $1.38 each. For $10, you’ll come away with eight Chicken Nuggets, meaning they cost $1.25 each. For $12, you’ll receive five Shrimp ($6.90) and five Chicken Nuggets (6.25), for a total of $13.15 worth of fried food. That ignores the portion of fries, assuming that both servings are similar. So you do “save” a little bit of money by going with the combo. Under duress, I would admit that Disney’s Fried Shrimp remain one of my favorite things. They’re so crunchy and Ken does a nice job with his Spicy Cocktail Sauce. I always request a second container.
Our last option is the $13 “Black Bean Burger – Spicy Southwestern-flavored Patty on a Toasted Bun with Provolone and House-made Avocado Spread served with French Fries.” This is “literally” a MorningStar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger in between the same dry bun as we’ve seen on the other sandwiches, this time gussied up with a creamy Avocado Spread and a slice of melted Provolone Cheese that “feels” a little out of place. You’d think Pepper Jack would fit the theme a little better, but perhaps Disney was trying to cool what are already some very mild spices in the “Spicy Southwestern-flavored Patty.”
I actually like these Black Bean Burgers pretty well and Disney’s execution is the same as mine. Microwaving them in this manner leads to the edges becoming a bit tough and chewy, which may be a put-off for some, but reminded me of home. Who would have thought that this high level of nostalgia could be found in a vegetarian bean patty? Anyway, “it is what it is,” so to speak. Anyone looking for something gourmet will be disappointed, but you can add enough vegetables and other items from the toppings bar to help add some additional flavors. We already have some crunchy red onion between the bun and some peppers on the side. What a life.
Here’s the other side of the menu:
The Chili-Cheese Fries are sizable here and adding them to another entree may allow you and another person to share a meal for less money than two entrees. The refillable fountain beverage may also bring a savings of a few dollars for those who share.
Kids’ Meals are still served in a plastic sand pail with a plastic shovel that you probably don’t want, but will end up paying for anyway. I’m not sure how much luck, if any, people have with requesting the meal without them in order to save a couple of dollars. I used to recommend that people ask, but everyone said that Disney will either force it on you or charge you for it anyway. Check the prices versus an adult portion and consider grabbing the kids an adult portion to split if you can convince them that it’s okay to share with their brothers and sisters.
I was impressed by the $4.39 cup of Potato Soup, which is probably a little larger in portion than the picture indicates. It’s a thick, creamy, full of hearty potatoes, and topped with a nice sprinkle of salty bacon bits and crisp green onion. I’m not necessarily sure where it would fit into your meal. It would certainly accompany the Fried Shrimp nicely, but I don’t think anybody eating a burger or chicken nuggets would necessarily be jonesing for some hot potato soup…particularly in July…in Florida. Seeing this in a bread bowl would bring a big smile to my face. Actually, anything served in a bread bowl that isn’t a salad is okay in my book.
Overall, Restaurantosaurus wouldn’t be my top choice if I were looking for something interesting, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for some theme park chicken fingers, burgers, and fries. And that’s okay. Restaurantosaurus benefits from ample indoor, air-conditioned seating, along with covered patio seating in the back if you prefer.
The theming is a lot of fun and the toppings bar goes a long way to being able to customize your basic selections. The ability to refill your fountain beverage is also welcome. While you would find me at Satu’li or Flame Tree far more often, there is certainly a place in Animal Kingdom’s culinary landscape for the likes of Restaurantosaurus. We can look down at it all we want, but it certainly serves its purpose well. Try not to visit during peak lunch time. Any time before noon or after 3pm is best.
The Restaurantosaurus Lounge is still a thing, in case you were wondering.
There’s nothing here that I would specifically recommend, but you can pull up my full review here.
That post also covers some other DinoLand options, like this Corn Chip Pie from the Dino-Diner. You may want to haul one of these over if everyone else is after a burger, but you just want to get your Frito on. Restaurantosaurus isn’t that far away from Flame Tree Barbecue either, so you could feasibly walk something over from there.
Here’s the back side of the Restaurantosaurus Lounge menu. Nothing is leaping out at me.
Yesterday, Disney announced that a new experience is coming to Restaurantosaurus on August 18th:
At this point, I’m relatively certain that Disney is just trying to kill me. I don’t think there’s any other explanation. The conspiracy noted in the introduction is probably real. Remember, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.
It’s an intriguing experience that sounds like it will be a particularly good value on the Disney Dining Plan, as it will remain a quick service meal at the $23 price point and include the beverage and dessert. We’ve seen similar offerings at Pizzafari, which offers the family-style dinner. ABC Commissary over at Hollywood Studios also accepts reservations and offers a “fast casual” experience at dinner. I’m sure we’ll try these burgers come August 18th. I can’t wait.
We’ll close things out with an afternoon tour of Animal Kingdom.