Restaurant logo (2000-present)
|Founded||February 3, 1994, Bloomington, Minnesota|
Number of locations
|Steven Schussler, Founder|
Tilman J. Fertitta Chairman, President, and Chief executive officer
|Products||Pasta, Seafood, Salad, Sandwiches, Dessert; Merchandise|
|Revenue||US $108 million (1997)|
|$12 million (1997)|
Rainforest Cafe is a jungle themed restaurant chain owned by Landry's, Inc. of Houston. It was founded by 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. The first international location opened in London, England in June 1997. 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.
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. To date, the company owns restaurants in the United States, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, the U.A.E., and Japan. Rainforest Cafe focuses on local tourism for a majority of their income.
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, gorillas, tigers, leopards, snakes, crocodiles, frogs, iguanas, butterflies, and tropical birds. It also includes fish tanks. Most locations also have themed exteriors as well as interiors. The Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) in Orlando, Florida and Galveston, Texas is located under a large artificial volcano which erupts during the simulated thunderstorms. Others, such as the locations in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Niagara Falls, New York; have the appearance of ancient jungle ruins, particularly resembling 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 an animatronic crocodile, where guests are invited to toss coins, aiming for the crocodile's mouth, teeth, claws, legs, body and tail.
Some of the restaurants are partitioned into several rooms by means of rain curtains that fall into basins running along the tops of partition walls, rock formations, and curtains of sparse foliage. There are also a more reef fish tanks in each restaurant. Most locations have two tanks connected over the throughway from the gift shop to the restaurant, but at the Walt Disney World Resort 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. 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. At the Galveston location, there exists a dark ride existing in another building attached to the Rainforest Cafe's main building known as the "River Adventure Ride", which takes guests on a circular raft ride down the rivers of various rainforests of the world in the style of the Jungle Cruise found at many Disney Parks. Here guests encounter many animatronic examples of wildlife that can be found in rainforests worldwide, culminating in a journey through a treasure-filled Hindu temple where they encounter an angry six-armed "river god" statue before returning to the start.
Rainforest themed merchandise is sold in the gift shop, mostly printed by the Atlanta-based fashion apparel company, Boxercraft Inc. 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 eyed tree frog; Iggy, the iguana; Nile, the crocodile; Rio, the macaw; Maya, the jaguar; Tuki, the african forest elephant; Bamba, the gorilla; and Ozzie, the orangutan. These eight characters may be represented on children's menus, merchandise, or the company logo.
To enhance the theme, some of the animals are animatronic, manufactured by Russells Creative, LLC of Apopka, Florida, formerly UCFab International. Nearly all locations have elephants, tigers, gorillas, leopards, snakes, crocodiles, and butterflies. Elephants are typically found in a pair consisting of an adult and young with small and large tusks. Like most animatronics, these face diners from a raised area off 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.In the Disney Springs location there is a lemurs hanging from a tree in the restaurant. Gorillas are the most numerous of the animatronics, and there are usually four or five gorillas in each restaurant. Each group usually has a silverback, a baby hanging from a tree, and one or two other gorillas which are sometimes beating its chest and leaning on palm trees which they shake during their motion sequences. Leopards may be found at every location, but they are generally perched on a high ledge or tree with their tail and one forelimb hanging down. In the San Antonio Riverwalk location, there is a panda bears resembling the adult and young in the upper level in the restaurant. Snakes are mostly positioned at the entrance of the retail village, wrapped around a branch and greeting guests from above. In the gift shop, a talking tree named Tracy Tree entertains shoppers every few seconds. Crocodiles are located in a wishing pond or waterfall either outside and inside the gift shop, where guests are invited to toss coins at them. At the Opry Mills location, there is a hippopotamus replacing the crocodile. At the Katy Mills and Ontario Mills locations, there is a young elephant with small tusks on the rock and the bushes that is close to the rivers, waterfalls, and the crocodile next to the snake are located inside and outside the gift shop. At the Sawgrass Mills location, there is a baby gorilla hanging from a tree that is close to the waterfalls, rivers and the crocodile next to the snake are located inside and outside the gift shop. At the London location, there is an orangutan adult and baby sitting in a bed of rainforest foliage. Each location usually has multiple butterflies which have animatronic flapping wings 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, for example, Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs has a family of four leopards on a high ledge, as well as the more typical leopard in the gift shop. 
Rainforest Cafe serves food ranging from seafood, beef, and chicken to pastas and pizzas.
In popular culture
- The restaurant's former location in Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts appeared in the 2009 film Paul Blart: Mall Cop.
- "Rainforest Cafe". Landry's Inc. Landry's Inc. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- "Rainforest Cafe, Inc. History". Funding Universe. Funding Universe. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- "Rainforest Cafe". The River Walk Guide. The San Antonio River Walk Guide. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Landry's, Inc – Finding Success on All Fronts". Who We Are. Landry's Inc. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
- "Bellevue sculptor goes down the rabbit hole". Idaho Mountain Express. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
- "Retail and Commercial Projects". Client List. Fiber Optic Systems, Inc. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- Cooper, Janice. "Rainforest Cafe - A Wild Experience". RateIt. RateIt. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- "Furry Creatures". UCFab International. UCFab International, LLC. Archived from the original on June 14, 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- "Rainforest Cafe". Fiber Theme Designs. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
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