Saturday, August 18, 2012

Not Really Kid Friendly

We have a child who has become very sensitive to loud noises. I am not sure when it happened, or why, but Zane doesn't like things loud, and that is that. If we are anywhere where he starts covering his ears and looking fearful, we try to calm him down.  If he can't calm himself down, we leave if we can.

There's a restaurant called the Rainforest Cafe. It's a place designed to sell stuff, of course.  You enter the restaurant through the gift shop, and you wait your turn to be the gift shop.  The entire place is decorated to look like...and artist's conception of what a rainforest might look like.  The place is darker than one might expect for an eating establishment, and every few minutes the 'animals' start making noises and moving around.  

Zane has been to the Rainforest Cafe before, and he seemed to like it at the time.  This time, as we meandered past tigers and gorillas, even I was concerned about the noise level.  With the animated gorillas in the fake trees next to our table whooping and hollering, I couldn't hear what the waitress was saying, and it was too dark for me to attempt lip reading. 

I looked at Zane; his hands were over his ears. He seemed just overwhelmed.  I couldn't blame him; I  thought the volume was up too high, also.  Throughout the meal, whenever the animals began moving and making noise, Zane would stop and cover his ears.  We asked him a couple of times whether or not he could make it until we were done eating, and he told us that he could.  Even though the noise bothered him, he did his best.  I am very proud of him.  I know that it is impossible for me to pay attention to anything when there are competing noises around me

The Rainforest Cafe is supposed to be aimed at kids and their families.  There's an area designated for strollers.  The gift shop is full of toys, stuffed plushies, rubber snakes, and all those other items that parents purchase for their kids so they will be entertained for a few minutes.  Some of the proceeds from the place go to fund conservation efforts. 

I don't believe that it is too much to ask for a little quiet. They've made an attempt to set up a very specific atmostphere, bringing in animatronic animals and throwing up vines and fake trees.   The RC people have made a strong effort to create the "I'm in the actual rainforest" dining experience.  People are bothered by the   Except that it is too frackin' loud.  If my son is bothered by the volume, I can't even begin to imagine the sensory overload that a person with autism would experience.  And what about people with hearing aids?  It's not a very inviting experience to have to keep your ears covered.  How is this kid-friendly? Children's ears are more sensitive to sounds, and here is the Rainforest Cafe pouring on the noise!  How is it kid-friendly to envelope the entire place  in darkness?  If you can't hear the waitress talking, turn the volume down.  How hard is that? 


  1. SO ... I hope you told them what you thought!! Quite frankly, the REAL rainforest isn't that loud!! Although maybe that's just downunder ...

    1. No, I imagine that a real rainforest is pretty quiet. Maybe we will go there next time.

  2. We only made it to RC once a very long time ago. My daughter loved every minute of it and Matt, the more sensitive one overall, could hardly sit through the whole event...too loud, too creeped out, too much. We never went back. I know it's a hit with families, just not ours!

  3. We had this problem with Bugaboo Creek. My son has ASD and sensory issues... sometimes just going into stores at Christmas time was a nightmare. In the end, these places just didn't get our business.

  4. I don't like it when I have to yell while I eat, or chat in general!

  5. I hate having to shout conversation in a restaurant. I'm surprised they didn't just have gentle rain sounds so people can pleasantly get the idea and enjoy the experience. Hopefully you can find a restaurant both kid friendly and ear friendly. Great Post!


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