On the way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom I felt a small tingle of dread. While on I-4 as we headed to my favorite park, I wasn’t as excited as I usually am. We were heading there to visit my least favorite quick-service restaurant at my favorite park. My toddler son soon grew fussy to which I said, “Hey it’s okay, we’re headed to a dinosaur restaurant!” He perked up and it was in that moment I realized the appeal of Restaurantosaurus.
Perhaps the most mismatched and misunderstood land in all of Walt Disney World is Dinoland U.S.A. The vision of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is to showcase the wondrous world of animals – real, extinct, and imaginary. One of the aims of Dinoland is to point out what it is like to lose an entire species of animals to extinction, in hopes it will inspire us to fight for those that still walk the Earth.
All of this is tough to see through the corny and pun-laden land that is Dinoland U.S.A. Still, it is one of the most kinetic lands in any Disney park, especially inside the mini-land of Chester’s and Hester’s. There are plenty of places for tikes like mine to run around.
Backstories abound. Dinoland is home to the Dinosaur Institute. And Restaurantosaurus is where the young institute staffers set up their dormitory-style camp. This quick-service location is one part mess hall and another part recreation and resting place. But, most guests just recognize it as a burger joint: a place to get chicken nuggets and other simple fare.
Restaurantosaurus Food Review
I must disclose that I am not a burger and fries kind of person. Once in a while it is a comforting indulgence, but otherwise I prefer exotic flavors, loads of vegetables, and seafood. However, every theme park needs a burger joint. When you’re on vacation, trying to get the most for your time and money, it is understandable that burgers and sandwiches are a popular choice. Restaurantosaurus offers burgers (including a spicy plant-based version), a chicken sandwich, chicken nuggets, fried shrimp, and a Cobb salad. You can view the full menu here.
We opted for the Bacon Cheeseburger, Plant-Based Southwestern Burger, Chicken BLT Sandwich, and the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken. The Bacon Cheeseburger Combo, which includes a fountain drink and a dessert, tempted us, but we decided to save some calories for a visit to Nomad Lounge afterwards. The combo, however, is a popular choice.
First up, the humble Bacon Cheeseburger. Each burger is served plain. Fear not, however, for there is a generous toppings bar with everything you could need to create your own bounty of burger toppings. One side offers cold toppings like lettuce, arugula, tomato, and even banana peppers. A smaller hot toppings bar allows you to add grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, and more. The down side of the toppings bar is it can be mobbed, as was the case during our visit.
The Bacon Cheeseburger is exactly what one can expect from a quick-service restaurant inside a theme park. Pre-made patties with pretend grill marks sit between a standard, but substantial bun. The key to a good cheeseburger, in my opinion, is that the cheese be melty and cover the entire patty, providing a bit of decadence with each bite. Thankfully that was the case here. Finally the bacon provides a nice smoky, salty flavor, but its limp texture is disappointing.
The Southwestern Plant-Based Burger piqued my interest. We have a beef allergy in our family, and I like to balance my diet with plant-based options from time to time. As someone who has consumed a fair amount of plant-based meat substitutes I was prepared for the texture to be softer than actual meat, but a nice flavor.
Sadly, this plant-based burger is one of the worst of such options I have tasted at Walt Disney World. Generally, Disney does a fantastic job of providing quality plant-based options. This is not one of them. The patty is massive and awkward, the texture is soft and off-putting, the Southwest flavor is overpowering – and I can usually handle some heat. The Pepper Jack vegan cheese helped, a little, as did the arugula, but overall this is a hard pass, in my opinion. You can find much better plant-based options at Satu’li Canteen or Harambe Market–each location has plant-based food that has better flavor and presentation.
The items on the menu that appealed to me the most, the Chicken BLT Sandwich and the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken, satisfied my taste better than the preceding items. The Chicken BLT Sandwich is generous, well-seasoned piece of chicken, topped with bacon, tomato, arugula, and a spicy aïoli. The menu says that there are Parmesan crumbles and the bun is a brioche bun, neither was included in what was served to me. The sauce dripped off of one side of the bun and was not at all present on the other side. The arugula added an elevated flavor beyond what a traditional iceberg lettuce would bring. The bacon barely made an appearance, but added a nice smoke flavor when it was present. If I absolutely had to visit Restaurantosaurus again I would probably order this sandwich.
Finally, we finished our meal at Restaurantosaurous with the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken. Although I love a good salad, I became a little concerned when I stepped up to the delivery window and awaited my order. There on top of the “hot box” where ready made food waits to be delivered to the patrons, a tray of the salads – completely dressed and topped with chilled grilled chicken, sat and waited. There were about ten of the pre-made salads, sitting and soaking atop the “hot box.” This could not be good for the crispness and freshness I so enjoy in a salad.
The salad itself is a generous serving, and a good variety of toppings. Cucumbers, tomato, hard-boiled egg, Nueske’s bacon, and blue cheese are tossed together in Green Goddess dressing. This combination makes for a flavorful bite with each forkful. For my preference, there could have been less dressing, which would help with the sogginess. The mixed greens were very limp and the blue cheese clumped together. The chilled grilled chicken added nothing to the salad. I would prefer that the salad be available for $2.00 less without the chicken, offering it as an add-on. If looking for a salad in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my preference would be the Smokehouse Chicken Salad at Flame Tree Barbecue, because I prefer the unique flavors and the chicken is presented better.
Restaurantosaurus Final Thoughts
After chasing my son around so my husband could eat, I returned to our table. I ate a few more forkfuls of the salad, giving it another try. I looked at the Plant-Based Burger and thought “surely it isn’t as bad as I think it is,” took another bite, and lurched back. Yes, it really is as bad as I think it is. And so it was the Chicken BLT Sandwich that won out for me. My husband remarked that the Bacon Cheeseburger was good, but he prefers other options in the park like Harambe Market and Flame Tree Barbecue.
If you desire a casual, approachable menu, Restaurantosaurus is a good fit. If burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries are your craving this will indeed fit the bill. If, however, you desire fare with a little more creativity in flavor and presentation, then there are three other quick service locations in the park that I would recommend: Satu’li Canteen, Harambe Market, or Flame Tree Barbecue.
The decor and overall theme of Restaurantosaurous is worth a visit, at least. Puns and jokes about science and dinosaurs are practically everywhere you look. The main lobby in which you place your order and pick up your food has a rustic lodge feel with two light fixtures adorned with dinosaur silhouettes. Each dining room has a different feel. The walls are decorated with countless props, and tons of dinosaur puns. As Disney burger joints go, it has one of the most fun atmospheres. The food is not a fit for my family, but if you desire burgers and casual fare, you will find a roaring good time here.
Have you eaten at Restaurantosaurus? What do you think? Let us know in the comments.