Malls and Retail Wiki

Rainforest Cafe is a 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.

Themed ambience[]

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, jaguars, 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), Orlando, is located under a large artificial volcano which erupts during the simulated thunderstorms. Others, such as the locations in Atlantic City; Anaheim; 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.

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 few 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.

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 jaguar; 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]


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, crocodiles, and butterflies. Elephants are typically found in a pair consisting of an adult and young. 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. 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 leaning on palm trees which they shake during their motion sequences. Jaguars may not be found at every location, but they are generally 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. 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 or just inside the shop, where guests are invited to toss coins at them. At the Opry Mills location, there is a hippopotamus in place of a crocodile. 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 jaguars on a high ledge, as well as the more typical jaguar in the gift shop.[9]


Rainforest Cafe serves food ranging from seafood, beef, and chicken to pastas and pizzas.[1]

A Rainforest Cafe In Chicago, Illinois, Which Opened In 1997


U.S. locations[]

  • Lake Buena Vista, Florida – Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) (Opened on August 6, 1996, with about 450 seats)*
  • Bay Lake, Florida – Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort (Opened on April 22, 1998)*
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey – In the closed Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (Opened Winter 2004)
  • Edison, New Jersey – Menlo Park Mall (Opened on September 17, 1998)
  • Bloomington, Minnesota, – Third floor of Mall of America, relocated from the first floor (Opened on January 22, 2016)
  • Sunrise, Florida – Sawgrass Mills (Opened in November 1996)
  • Ontario, California – Ontario Mills (Opened on November 14, 1996)
  • Tempe, Arizona – Arizona Mills (Opened on November 20, 1997)
  • Grapevine, Texas – Grapevine Mills (Opened on October 30, 1997)
  • Katy, Texas – Katy Mills (Opened on October 28, 1999)
  • Galveston, Texas
  • San Antonio, Texas – San Antonio River Walk
  • Chicago, Illinois – Downtown Chicago (Opened on October 2, 1997)
  • Gurnee, Illinois – Gurnee Mills (Opened in June 1996)
  • Auburn Hills, Michigan – Great Lakes Crossing Outlets (Opened on November 12, 1998)
  • Nashville, Tennessee – Opry Mills (Opened on May 12, 2000; Closed in May 2010 due to the 2010 Tennessee floods; Reopened on March 29, 2012)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada - Harmon Corner in the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino Las Vegas (Opened on September 2, 2015)
  • Niagara Falls, New York – Sheraton at the Falls (Opened on June 3, 2015)

International locations[]

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario – Clifton Hill (Opened in May 2001)
  • Tokyo, Japan – Ikspiari Shopping Mall near Tokyo Disney Resort (Opened on July 7, 2000)
  • London, England – Piccadilly Circus (Opened on June 24, 1997)
  • Paris, France – Disneyland Paris (Opened in 1999)
  • Dubai, U.A.E. – The Dubai Mall (Opened in 2009)

Former locations[]

  • Anaheim, California – Downtown Disney (Opened on January 12, 2001; Closed on June 19, 2018)
  • Houston, Texas  - The Houston Galleria (Opened in Spring 2009; Closed in March 2018)
  • San Francisco, California - Fisherman's Wharf (Opened in May 2000; Closed in October 2017)
  • Burlington, Massachusetts – Burlington Mall (Opened in October 1998; Closed on April 25, 2016)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Las Vegas (Opened on December 18, 1997; Closed in August 30, 2015, possibly for relocation)[11]
  • Toronto, Ontario – Yorkdale Shopping Center (Opened on June 30, 1999, closed January 1, 2014.)[12]
  • Costa Mesa, California – South Coast Plaza (Opened June 9, 1997; closed in 2013)[13]
  • Aventura, Florida – Aventura Mall (Opened on December 14, 1997; Closed in 2000)
  • Overland Park, Kansas – Oak Park Mall (Opened on February 23, 1999; closed on January 6, 2009)[14]
  • Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong – Festival Walk (Opened November 24, 1998; closed in April 2003)
  • Norfolk, Virginia – MacArthur Center (Opened in June 1999; closed in 2001)
  • Tysons Corner, Virginia – Tysons Corner Center (Opened in October 1996, Closed in 2007)
  • Westbury, New York – The Source Mall (Opened in September 1997; closed on October 19, 2000)
  • West Nyack, New York – Palisades Center (Opened on March 19, 1998; closed in 2002)
  • Elizabeth, New Jersey - The Mills at Jersey Gardens (Opened on October 21, 1999; Closed in Late 2000)
  • Denver, Colorado, – Cherry Creek Shopping Center (Opened in Summer 1998; Closed in 2001)
  • Towson, Maryland – Towson Town Center (Opened on March 23, 1999; Closed in January 2009)[15]
  • Toronto, Ontario – Scarborough Town Center, Opened in February 1999; closed on January 7, 2001)
  • Manchester, England – Trafford Center (Closed in 2003)
  • Burnaby, British Columbia – Metropolis at Metrotown (Opened in June 1998, closed in October 2001.)
  • Mexico City, Mexico – Metropol Entertainment Central (Closed in 2012)
  • Cancun, Mexico – Plaza Forum By The Sea (Opened on August 15, 1997, closed in Fall 2010.)
  • Tlalnepantla, Mexico – Mundo E (Opened on December 17, 1998; Closed sometime in the 2000s)
  • Mexico City, Mexico – Centro Santa Fe (Closed in 2012)
  • Istanbul, Turkey – İstinye Park (Closed in 2010.)
  • Farmington, Connecticut – Westfarms Mall (Opened in February 2000; Closed in 2013)[16]
  • Cairo, Egypt – City Stars Mall (Opened in February 2008, closed approximately in 2012.)[10]
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Philadelphia Mills (formerly Franklin Mills) (Opened on November 27, 1998; Closed in February 2001)
  • Tukwila, Washington – Westfield Southcenter (Opened on June 29, 1999; Closed in January 2016)
  • Bloomington, Minnesota – First floor of Mall of America (Opened on October 3, 1994 with 295 seats, also the first location; Closed in September 2014 for relocation.)
  • 3 Simei Street 6, Singapore – Eastpoint Shopping Mall (Opened on Times; Closed sometime in the 2000s)
  • Schaumburg, Illinois – Woodfield Mall (Opened in October 1995, Closed January 1, 2020)

In popular culture[]

  • The restaurant in Burlington Mall appeared in the 2009 film Paul Blart: Mall Cop