Should you go to the T-Rex Restaurant at Disney Springs with your (dino-loving) sensitive or anxious kids?
Figuring out dining at Disney is another huge piece of the planning puzzle, so if you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a ton of time reading reviews of different restaurants.
We know that eating out can be a challenge with kids in general, but there is an added layer if you have highly sensitive, sensory sensitive, or anxious kids. It’s important to consider things like the environment, visual stimulation, proximity to others, and the menu, as you make decisions about where to dine with your family.
If you’re wondering about the level of sensory overload and whether it would be a good place to dine with your highly sensitive kids, let me break it down for you in this review and rating of the T-Rex Restaurant.
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T-Rex Restaurant Background Info
Before we get into the nitty gritty details, let’s talk about some basics!
T-Rex Restaurant is located in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. What is Disney Springs? It is an outdoor shopping and entertainment area, with lots of restaurant options as well. Disney Springs is divided into different sections, and T-Rex is located in the Marketplace area right next to the LEGO store.
It is a table service restaurant, which means it’s a full-service sit-down dining experience in Disney language. This is different than quick service, which is more a fast-food style of dining. It is recommended that you make dining reservations ahead of time, either on the website or on the My Disney Experience app on your phone. You can start reserving meals 60 days before your trip.
As the name suggests, T-Rex is themed after dinosaurs! It first opened in 2008, and has been delighting dino-lovers ever since. The creators of Rainforest Cafe made this dino-themed restaurant, so there are definitely some similarities between the two. The dinosaur theming throughout the restaurant is VERY immersive, and they have numerous dinosaur animatronics, including a 15 foot tall T-Rex, in their habitats.
The restaurant is divided into different themed areas:
- The Ice Cave with the T-Rex skeleton and other fossils
- The Ocean which includes the Aquarium and giant octopus, jellyfish, coral reef. This is the bar area right when you enter the restaurant
- The geothermic, fire area with T-Rex and the wooly mammoth. You have a view of the grill from here
- The sequoia and fern forest area with Herbivore dinosaurs
T-Rex Restaurant Experience
T-Rex serves both lunch and dinner. You can find the menu here. It is described as “themed dining”, and you can tell from the fun play on words for various menu options. Some examples include: Supersaurus Sampler, Triassic Trio, Meteor Meatloaf, Raptor Rita (instead of margarita), and my personal favorite – Prehistoric Fashioned (instead of an old fashioned).
There is also a gift shop to the right of the entrance, as well as a whole Build-a-Dino experience (similar to Build-a-Bear except…well, dinosaurs). Towards the front of the gift shop, there is the Paleo Zone, where kids get to dig for hidden dinosaur fossils. It’s essentially like a giant sensory bin! It’s not required to dine at the restaurant to explore the gift shop, Build-a-Dino, or the dig area.
So now that we know a little background info about T-Rex Restaurant at Disney Springs, let’s get into the ratings!
Noise Level at T-Rex Restaurant 5/5
One of the most common triggers for meltdowns among highly sensitive and sensory sensitive kids is loud noises! And anyone who has dined at T-Rex will tell you that this restaurant is LOUD.
We dined here in February 2023 as requested by my middle child, our resident dino expert, for his birthday meal. I had read all the reviews and watched Youtube videos of the restaurant. I totally underestimated the noise level despite doing my research ahead of time. My oldest highly sensitive child, at age almost 9, had her ears covered for most of the meal. It was very difficult to have any sort of conversation because of how loud it was in there.
Every 20 minutes, there is a meteor show that happens throughout the entire restaurant. It is accompanied by rumbling thunder, fiery “explosions”, flashing lights, and the dinosaurs moving and roaring. This lasts about a minute and then goes back to normal. We experienced it three times during our meal.
Of course, this was the one time I forgot to bring our noise canceling headphones. My newly minted 6 year old and 14 month old were fine with the noise, but my oldest really disliked it.
PRO TIP: Avoid the ice cave section. It is the loudest there during the meteor shower. The noise carries throughout the entire restaurant but it’s a little less intense in other areas. You can request to be seated in a certain section when you go to the host stand.
Darkness at T-Rex Restaurant 5/5
Some highly sensitive children have a fear of the dark, which is why it’s another important factor to consider when choosing where you want to eat.
Unfortunately, T-Rex is SUPER dark. We were seated in the forested area in the back next to a triceratops, and I had to use my phone flashlight to get a better look at the menu. It isn’t pitch black, but it definitely would not be considered a well-lit restaurant. As mentioned earlier, it becomes darker when the meteor shower occurs.
The darkness level also varies throughout the restaurant. If you want to sit in a brighter area, I would recommend sitting closer to the entrance near the “ocean” section. Because this restaurant has no windows, the most outdoor light you’ll get is from sitting closer to the front. Sure, it’s a little less immersive, but it’s probably a good idea for those who are sensory sensitive.
The fiery section near the grill is a little less dark as well.
Proximity to Others at T-Rex Restaurant 4/5
Highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids may dislike being in crowded spaces, and that includes restaurants.
T-Rex is a popular dining spot, simply because it is such a unique dining experience. So you should expect it to feel fairly crowded. The dining tables are located pretty close to each other, but it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting right on top of each other.
It helps somewhat that there are the different themed “sections” throughout the restaurant, to create a small sense of separation. And it’s really quite a large restaurant as well!
The tall ceilings also add to a feeling of openness, even though it is still very visually stimulating. It’s definitely not cramped, tight quarters with low ceilings.
I noticed that there were some booth-style tables throughout the restaurant. I would highly recommend that type of table if you’re hoping to have a bit more of your own carved out space, with a sense of separation from other guests.
Also, we ate at T-Rex for lunch and got a reservation for right when it opened. We were probably one of the first few guests seated that day. The restaurant became gradually more crowded throughout our meal, so if you want to be there at less crowded time, I’d recommend coming right at opening or not during a peak meal time (aka at 12 noon for lunch or 6pm for dinner).
“Scare” Factor at T-Rex Restaurant 5/5
My highly sensitive kids seem to scare more easily than your average child, so scoping out what might be potentially scary to my kids is important to me. Typically, the things that scare kids at Disney restaurants are: characters, “scary” theming, sudden noises, and being in dark and enclosed spaces.
While there are no characters, the dinosaur animatronics are the big feature at T-Rex Restaurant. If you have any family members that might be scared of larger-than-life animatronics of dinosaurs, this will really not be a great choice for you.
The whole meteor shower can be really scary for some kids. It is so loud, there are tons of flashing lights, and it feels like you’re in the middle of a big thunderstorm.
My 6 year old and my 14 month old were unfazed by the noise, darkness, and overall commotion at the restaurant. My oldest, who displays the most highly sensitive characteristics, was really scared the whole meal. She probably won’t ever choose to eat there on her own accord as it was very overstimulating and scary for her.
Unfamiliar Foods at T-Rex Restaurant 2/5
For many highly sensitive kids, unfamiliar foods can trigger meltdowns. This can be challenging during your family vacation, where you are away from home and all their usual foods and snacks. I’m really lucky that my kids are generally not very picky when it comes to their food, but it always helps to know if they have kid-friendly staples at restaurants.
T-Rex Restaurant has pretty standard food. There isn’t anything super unique or unfamiliar to most American families. As of June 2023, the T-Rex lunch and dinner kids’ menu features things like grilled chicken, corn dogs, pasta, pizza, sliders, chicken strips, and mac and cheese. For seafood lovers, they even have a fish and shrimp option. Most of these foods are pretty familiar to children. *Menu subject to change
I ordered the Triassic Trio, and my youngest devoured the “raptor rice” that came with the plate. The menu is really expansive so I feel like there is something for everyone here. No, it’s not going to be a fine dining experience. But for me, it’s more about making sure everyone’s food needs are being met.
If you don’t see anything on the menu that suits your kids’ tastes, don’t hesitate to ask your server! Disney restaurants are so great at accommodating different families’ needs, whether it is because of picky eaters or food allergies. Don’t be shy and ask them what your options are!
How do we understand the rating? A lower score means less sensory overload, while a higher score means a greater likelihood of being overwhelmed and overstimulated. Based on my experience, I would not recommend T-Rex Restaurant for families with highly sensitive or sensory sensitive kids.
If your kids are easily scared of loud noises, being in the dark, or dinosaurs in general, you are totally asking for a meltdown by dining here at T-Rex. It is very very overstimulating, even as an adult.
Food-wise, it is easy to find something for anyone because the menu is just so huge. It’s not going to the BEST food you’ll ever have at Disney, but it was mostly enjoyable.
Even if you have a big dinosaur lover, T-Rex might be a little too much. You can still visit the gift shop, do the Build-a-Dino experience, and play in the fossil dig area WITHOUT dining here. Those activities are much less overwhelming than the noisy and dark environment inside the restaurant.
We really only ate here because it was my 6 year old’s birthday request, so we obliged. But it was a really unpleasant experience for my oldest who is particularly sensitive to noise.
If you DO choose to eat here, do not sit in the Ice Cave area. It is the loudest in that section. You can request to avoid a particular area when you approach the host stand to check in, and they have no problem accommodating these types of requests.
Have you been to T-Rex Restaurant at Disney World? What was your experience like?
Do you think you’ll try dining here during your trip to Disney World?
Join my private Facebook Group to ask questions, share your opinions and get more tips on planning your Disney trip with your highly sensitive kids!
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