Monday, May 29, 2006

For Zilla, the Rainforest Cafe Update

Just for fun, we drove from Tampa to Orlando yesterday to watch a friend of mine perform in the Orlando Fringe Festival. Gabi is awesome and totally brave to mount a one-woman show. And we were brave to bring a seven-year-old to a performance that did not involve singing animals or snakes. As a bribe, we told Girlie that if she was super quiet and didn't say anything during the show, even in her very best quiet library voice, we would take her to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. There are two Rainforest Cafes in Orlando - both are on Disney property. We went to the one at the Disney Marketplace, right next door to drunken Disney (oops, I mean Pleasure Island). We arrived at 5:20 p.m., waited in line to sign up and were told that it would be an hour and fifteen minutes or maybe an hour and a half. We totally expected to wait that long. It was a holiday weekend and all that. But a bribe's a bribe and they don't ever work again if you don't pay up. Our return time to get seated was 7:10 p.m. Have you ever been to a Disney park? If you've ever waited in line for a ride, you know that they trick you by having you get to what looks like the front of the line only to find out you are just last in line in a different waiting area. And so on, and so on. It's much the same at the Rainforest Cafe. At 7:00 we'd been wandering all around the BIG merchandise area for a long time and were getting mighty hungry. "We're here," we told the guy back at the purple elephant where they let you into the restaurant. "Super," he said. "But you're not even close," he said. Sniff, sniff. Girlie started chanting, "LET US EAT, LET US EAT." They must get that a lot because he was totally unphased. Finally, at about 7:30, we checked in again and they told us to proceed to the Gorilla Room. Right. They really meant the Gorilla Room LINE. Where we waited for another 20 minutes. Then, en masse, they had a bunch of us proceed to the Gorilla Room entrance where we waited in line AGAIN. I was ready to chew the leather off my purse. Finally we were seated, we ordered, and we waited. And waited. I tried to get my Hubby to distract a waiter carrying food so that I could trip him and scrounge off the floor but Hubby didn't bite. When we left the restaurant (we had skipped appetizers and dessert), our bribe payoff had taken FOUR HOURS. FOUR HOURS for a salad that would feed Darfur and its neighboring countries, three little hot dogs for Girlie and a stir fry for Hubby. Was the food tasty? Yes. Was it neato when they had a fake thunderstorm? Yes. Will I ever go back, even if somebody offers ME a bribe? No.


zilla said...

Live and learn, right? Oh, you're so brave for even attempting it. Come see us in Traverse City. We'll take you out for a lovely dinner -- fifteen minute wait, max. Girlie will love it!

Mom101 said...

Oh God I've been there, but in Vegas at the MGM. Not fun. Your description of the lines is just perfect! At least at Universal it's remotely interesting to listen to Spielberg talk about the making of ET or whatnot in the queue line.

Meanwhile I'm in Orlando A LOT for work and never have seen anything as remotely cool as a fringe festival there. Lots of tourists in purple plaid bermudas. Not so many alt-theater fans. Remind me to schedule my business trips around it in 07.

ninepounddictator said...

Wow, just reading this post is getting me frustrated!

Thank God there's nothing really like that in Canada...well, we have the rainforest cafe (and I think the food is pretty good.)

I'm gald you made it through!

Cheryl said...

Oh my grief, I'm English, with all that entails, but even I would have waited ten minutes at most before loudly saying something like "If the business is run this efficiently, what they hell do they get away with in the kitchens?" and storming off, smilingly excusing myself around the people behind and muttering that it was probably too risky to eat there, what secrets do they hide in your plate under the bad lighting, little one is tired etc. You know.

You have my admiration for being more of a silent lamb-to-the-slaughter queuer than an Englishwoman.

Blog-o-licious said...

Well I'll be sure and scratch Rainforest off the list of potential dining places.
I was out with a group of friends for dinner once and we had been seated but it was taking FOREVER to get service. We got the bright ideas to call the same restaurant and ask for delivery...sure we can do that, what't the address? Table 6, the person on the phone turned around and we all waved. We got our order quite swiftly.
We were hungry! :)

Harmonica Man said...

We went to the one in the Mall of America once.


LawNut said...

In defense of the Rainforest, some of their locations do take reservations or call-ahead seating. I went to the one in Vegas at the MGM as well, but we made reservations and were seated right away, which was pretty nifty.

However, your story reminds me of the Cheesecake Factory here where I live. They do NOT take reservations or call-aheads, and their wait times are CONSISTENTLY 2-3 hours. 2-3 HOURS???!?!! It's like you walk in, say "2 for non-smoking?" and the hostess looks down for a moment at her computer and then says, "Um, yea...we can seat you sometime next week." Grrr!