Rainforest Cafe

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Rainforest Cafe
Industry Restaurants
Founded February 3, 1994, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Founder Steven Schussler
Headquarters Houston, United States
Number of locations
28 restaurants
Key people
Steven Schussler, Founder
Tilman J. Fertitta Chairman, President, and Chief executive officer
Products Pasta, Seafood, Salad, Sandwiches, Dessert; Merchandise[1]
Revenue Increase US $108 million (1997)[2]
Increase $12 million (1997)[2]
Parent Landry's Restaurants
Website RainforestCafe.com
A neon-sign welcomes visitors to a Rainforest Cafe, located inside the Great Lakes Crossing Outlets shopping complex in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Rainforest Cafe is a themed restaurant chain owned by Landry's, Inc. of Houston. It was founded by entrepreneur Steven Schussler. The first location opened in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, on February 3, 1994. By 1997, the chain consisted of six restaurants, all in the United States. In 1998, it was planned to build 12 additional restaurants in the United States, seven in Mexico, and five in the UK, for a total of 22 restaurants by 2008.[3]

In 2000, the Rainforest Cafe was bought by Landry's Restaurants Inc., a company specializing in dining, hospitality, entertainment, and gaming, based in Houston, Texas.[4] To date, the company owns restaurants in the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the U.A.E., Japan and India. Rainforest Cafe focuses on local tourism for a majority of their income.[3]

Themed ambience[edit]

Exterior of Rainforest Cafe in Galveston, Texas.

Each Rainforest Cafe restaurant is designed to depict some features of a tropical rainforest, including plant growth; mist; waterfalls; and figures of rainforest animals, including elephants, frogs, gorillas, jaguars, tigers, and tropical birds. Most locations also have themed exteriors as well as interiors. The Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney), Orlando, located under a large artificial volcano which erupts during the simulated thunderstorms. Others, such as the locations in Atlantic City; Anaheim; and Niagara Falls, Ontario; have the appearance of ancient jungle ruins, namely Palenque. Mall locations usually have waterfalls and simulated plant growth outside of them, visible to those who pass in the mall. Nearly all locations have a 'wishing pond', usually with a moving crocodile figure, where guests are invited to toss coins, aiming for the crocodile's mouth.

The restaurants are partitioned into several rooms by means of rain curtains that fall into basins running along the tops of partition walls and booths and aquariums. Most locations have two tanks connected, but at the Walt Disney World locations, three tanks are connected. One portion of most locations includes a bar located underneath an enormous mushroom. The chain is known for its characteristic bar stools, made to resemble the legs of animals, designed and sculpted by the artist Glenn Carter.[5] There is usually a star ceiling in the middle of the restaurant, which are designed and manufactured by Fiber Optic Systems Inc, located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.[6]

The interior of the Rainforest Cafe in Dubai Mall, Dubai.

Rainforest themed merchandise is sold in the gift shop, mostly printed by the Atlanta-based fashion apparel company, Boxercraft Inc.[7] Toys including stuffed toys and action figures of the restaurant mascots are sold as well. Rainforest Cafe also has a set of mascots, called "The Wild Bunch". These characters include Cha! Cha!, the red eye tree frog; Iggy, the iguana; Nile, the crocodile; Rio, a macaw; Maya, the leopard; Tuki, the elephant; Bamba, the gorilla; Ozzie, the orangutan. These eight characters may be represented on children's menus, merchandise, or the company logo.[7]


Rainforest Cafe at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

To enhance the theme, some of the animals are animatronic, manufactured by Russells Creative, LLC of Apopka, Florida, formerly UCFab International.[8] Nearly all locations have elephants, tigers, gorillas, jaguars, snakes, and crocodiles. Elephants are typically found in a pair consisting of an adult and young. These face diners from, like most animatronics, a raised area from a wall. Tigers are a relatively new addition to Rainforest Cafe, and they are normally found in groups of four, with a male, female, and two cubs. The male stands up high on a rock, while the female reclines beside it. Gorillas are the most numerous of the animatronics, and there are typically four or five gorillas in each restaurant. Each group usually has a silverback, a baby hanging from a tree, and others which may shake palm trees. Leopards may not be found at every location, but they typically are perched on a high ledge or tree with their tail and one forelimb hanging down. Snakes are mostly positioned at the entrance of the retail village, wrapped around a branch and greeting guests from above. Crocodiles are located in a wishing pond or waterfall either outside or just inside the shop, where guests are invited to toss coins at them. Each location usually has multiple butterflies which have an animatronic flapping mechanism as well.The descriptions of these animatronic animals is not always the case at every location though, and will vary slightly to dramatically by individual restaurant [9]


Rainforest Cafe serves food ranging from seafood, beef, and chicken to pastas and pizzas.[1] Dishes are named in accordance to the Rainforest Theme including the "Rainforest Burger", "Tribal Salmon", and "Amazon Fajitas". They may also be named based on Wild Bunch characters, such as the "Chimi-cha-cha" or "Bamba's Barbecue Wrap".

Rainforest Café generally serves Coca-Cola products, as well as ICEE. On the Kids menu there is an option to use a collector's cup for the ICEE.[10] Formerly called the "Pacific Rainbow", the cup now has a character head on top. A cup featuring Cha! Cha! is available indefinitely however other characters are made for the cups for about a year. All characters have been made so far. The bottom of these cups includes a screw-off compartment which houses a free action figure of the Wild Bunch character which the cup features on top.

Rainforest Café has a variety of desserts as well. Offered are a "Safari Sundae" and on the kids menu "Lava Mud" which is a pudding with chocolate cookies in it with gummy worms to emulate dirt. The largest and most popular dessert, however, is the Sparkling Volcano. A volcano is made of three wedge-shaped brownies with vanilla ice cream between them and whipped topping on top, drizzled with both chocolate and caramel sauce. Volcanoes were once served with a sparkler on top which the diner would blow out however it was replaced by a wooden rod with shiny ornamentation on it. Many locations, however, do insert and light a candle if it is in celebration of a party member's birthday. There is also the tradition of yelling "volcano!" by the wait staff every time a volcano is ordered.[11]

Image gallery[edit]


United States of America locations[edit]

A sign outside of Rainforest Café at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Exterior of the Rainforest Cafe located in Disney Springs before the renovation which replaced the volcano.

International locations[edit]

Former locations[edit]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rainforest Cafe". Landry's Inc. Landry's Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Rainforest Cafe, Inc. History". Funding Universe. Funding Universe. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Rainforest Cafe". The River Walk Guide. The San Antonio River Walk Guide. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Landry's, Inc – Finding Success on All Fronts". Who We Are. Landry's Inc. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bellevue sculptor goes down the rabbit hole". Idaho Mountain Express. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Retail and Commercial Projects". Client List. Fiber Optic Systems, Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Cooper, Janice. "Rainforest Cafe - A Wild Experience". RateIt. RateIt. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Furry Creatures". UCFab International. UCFab International, LLC. Archived from the original on June 14, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Rainforest Cafe". Fiber Theme Designs. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "Rainforest Cafe® at Downtown Disney Marketplace". Disney Parks and Travel. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Dinnertime In The Wild Jungle". TPI ORLANDO - Rainforest Cafe. Theme Park Insider. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Locations". Rainforest Cafe. Rainforest Cafe. Retrieved 17 June 2012. 
  13. ^ http://www.pennycollector.com/Details.aspx?location=2810
  14. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  15. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  16. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  17. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  18. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  19. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  20. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 
  21. ^ "Pennycollector.com". 

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