Downtown Disney spotlight: T-Rex and Characters in Flight
Written by Robert Niles
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida - After three intense days at Universal Orlando for the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, my parents and I drove over to Walt Disney World's Downtown Disney for lunch.Tweet
We ate at T-Rex, one of the few Downtown Disney restaurants none of us had eaten at before.
T-Rex is a Landry restaurant, the same company that owns and operates Rainforest Cafe. Which isn't surprising, given that T-Rex is essentially a carbon copy of Rainforest Cafe, except with dinosaurs rather than jungle animals.
The menu is similarly expansive, heavy on the meat. Nevertheless, I went with a fish dish, the Mesozoic Mahi Mahi: a filet of panko-crusted mahi mahi, served with a sweet and sour sauce, wild rice and roasted vegetables, including green beans, carrots, zucchini and peppers, for $23.99. (Apparently, T-Rex recently dropped the price $1, but replaced a shrimp topping and lemon shallot butter sauce with the sweet and sour sauce. It also changed the breading from a Parmesan crust to the Japanese breadcrumbs.)
Unless you're talking fish n' chips, fish doesn't need breading. Like a good steak, a fish filet's best when prepared simply - just grill or saute it. The sweet and sour sauce didn't add much to the fish, though I wish I saw roasted red peppers offered at restaurants more often. They're a yummy side dish.
My mother selected the Lost World Chicken Salad Sandwich, a pulled rotisserie chicken in mayonnaise with celery, onions, almonds and tarragon. It's served on a croissant, with potato chips for $13.99.
I found the chicken salad to have an off, perfumey flavor that kept me from trying more than one bite. Typically, I love tarragon, but in combination with the other flavors here, well, it just didn't work for me.
Unless you've got a kid who's a dinosaur fan, in which case you're likely to end up here at some point during your Walt Disney World vacation, there's no reason to seek out T-Rex. You can find much better food elsewhere on property, often at less cost.
After lunch, we walked over to West Side for a trip on Characters in Flight, the immense helium (not hot air!) balloon that floats 400 feet over Walt Disney World.
The 10-minute up-and-down trip costs $18 for adults and $12 for kids, ages 3-9. I wouldn't recommend the trip for anyone too short to see over the handrails, so skip it if you've got kids under 8 in your group. Nor will this ride appeal to anyone with a fear of heights, even if it's a mild case. You're in a real balloon here, so don't expect the stability you get riding something such as SeaWorld's observation tower. You feel even the gentlest breezes here.
That's Epcot, above. And here's a shot of Downtown Disney:
On a clear day, the views are lovely. Are they worth the extra cost? I'll leave that to you. But if you've never been up in a balloon before, this is an easy, visually rewarding way to do that.
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