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Where to eat? Dinner at Disney Springs' Planet Hollywood Observatory

April 17, 2017, 2:31 PM · LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — We recently visited Disney Springs on the way to our cruise aboard the Disney Wonder and had the opportunity to dine at the newly remodeled Planet Hollywood Observatory. The popular dining spot recently reopened to guests with a brand new look and menu designed with input from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" fame.

Gone is the red, white, and blue color scheme, along with the “red carpet” entrance. Disney Imagineers reimagined the restaurant to match the theme of the surrounding stores and restaurants in the Town Center by draping the dome with a metallic-colored tarp and brown and white bricks to transform the venue into a big-band era observatory.

We entered the restaurant on the ground floor and checked in at the host stand. They told us we would receive a text message when our table was ready which provided an opportunity to look around and view the updated movie and TV memorabilia throughout the restaurant. Several of the costumes featured built-in screens displaying clips from their respective movies. We also saw a life-sized R2-D2 from the Star Wars films on exhibition.

Not everything was clearly labeled and we walked around to several stands. Despite the fact there were multiple employees on-hand, not many of them knew where to direct us to check-in. There isn’t much of a dedicated waiting area for guests, and when received a text message indicating our table was read, we weren’t quite sure where to go. After several stops, we were finally seated by a hostess. This process needs to be refined.

The redesigned interior features several levels of seating with a telescope as the center point of the décor, along with additional movie and TV props in cases. There is also a spacious bar with multiple HDTVs. Opposite the bar is a DJ booth and massive projected screen playing music videos, some with lyrics, along with other short clips. The overall décor is reminiscent of a combination of steam punk mixed with 1940s style. Outdoor seating is also available, and there was a massive private function taking place on the night we dined. At times, the combination of music, conversations, and high ceilings made it difficult to hear each other.

The real “star” of the show is the updated menu, which includes classics such as the World Famous Chicken Crunch — chicken tenders hand-breaded with a crunchy coating of Cap'n Crunch cereal and served in a red metallic basket shaped like a chicken, with a side of Creole mustard sauce. We found the chicken to be average and a bit chewy at times. For $14, you receive four pieces of chicken, which wouldn’t go far for large parties.

World Famous Chicken Crunch

If you want to try several appetizers at once, you can order the Cosmic or High Roller Sampler platters, the latter served on a spinner resembling the High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas.

With a multitude of options to select from on the menu, we opted to split two of the new items, Guy Fieri’s Prime Time American Kobe burger with smoked gouda, cheddar, caramelized onion jam, LTOP (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles), and donkey sauce (a delightful mixture of roasted garlic, mayonnaise, and other flavors) on a garlic-buttered brioche bun. We ordered ours medium and it was cooked just-right. If burgers aren’t your thing, other Guy Fieri offerings include several Knuckle Sandwiches in varieties such as pulled pork, a Turkey Pic-a-Nic, and a Pimento Grilled Cheese. Fear not, because the L.A. Lasagna is still on the menu as well.

We also ordered the Six Cheese Chicken Macaroni & Cheese featuring chicken breast, cavatappi pasta, and baby spinach, in a creamy six-cheese sauce and topped with ricotta cheese and seasoned bread crumbs. It was advertised with mushrooms as well; however, we didn’t receive any. The pasta was prepared al dente and the cheese was rich and flavorful, though very thick.

Six Cheese Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

There are also specialty cocktails on the menu, two of which, the Halley's Comet Planet-Bowl and the Solar Eclipse Planet-Bowl, are infusions of several liquors served in a 45oz souvenir glass. Their other signature drinks are served in 21oz glasses. We didn’t see the option to order them in a regular glass; however you can ask your server for details.

Be sure to save room for their over-the-top desserts, especially the hand-dipped milkshakes. They offer several choices, including three “Supernova Shakes”. After pondering which one to order, we went with the Strawberry Supernova Shake and were not disappointed. It was served in a large mason jar covered in white chocolate frosting, white chocolate chips, sprinkles, and it was topped with a giant slice of vanilla cake with more frosting along with a massive lollypop.

Strawberry Supernova Shake

The cake was delicious and the milkshake was thick and decadent; although the frosting was from a jar and very sweet. They serve it with a large colorful straw which makes it easy to drink. Their other flavors include chocolate, and cotton candy, and if you don’t quite have room for the larger shakes, you can also order several of their desserts in miniature jars for the perfect, pint-sized taste. You can also take part in the Ice Cream and Gelato Challenge and win a prize if you correctly identify all twelve mystery flavors.

We visited the gift shop after dinner to view the updated merchandise featuring the new PHO logo and characters from the children’s menu. There is also more memorabilia on display, including the Batmobile from the Michael Keaton era. While there are several areas in which they can improve, the Planet Hollywood Observatory is a welcome re-imagined addition to Disney Springs, and, with a few tweaks, is sure to continue to draw crowds for years to come.

Replies (7)

April 18, 2017 at 3:13 AM · I wasn't impressed at all with the restaurant.
April 18, 2017 at 4:04 AM · I had been to several Planet Hollywoods over the years, before their general demise, and Downtown Disney's was always the best - their food was actually really good. I'm glad to see it getting some TLC and an update.

Just visited Niagara Falls recently, and was sad to see that location closed up. Always went to that restaurant when I was in that town, although it was mostly out of "tradition". But when we were down in Orlando, we would actually go for the service and food (as well as the fun décor and movie props).

April 18, 2017 at 7:40 AM · Why Disney wants to hold on to a failed brand is beyond my comprehension. Too many bad experiences with the store in Aspen, Las Vegas and a couple other locations are permanently burned into my brain. The World Famous Chicken Crunch looks terrible. That shake, outright repulsive.
April 18, 2017 at 8:46 AM · That mac and cheese looks like a microscopic portion (maybe 8-10 bites). I hope it was appropriately priced ($10 or less).
April 18, 2017 at 5:50 PM · Okay, so food photography is really hard to do. I've tried taking pictures of meals I loved and it never looks as good in a photo as it did on my plate (or as good as it tasted). So I don't try to judge food by its pictures. That being said, I think none of this looks worth the money. The chicken tenders and mac/cheese look dreadful. And that milkshake, while certainly outrageous, looks like it would be too overly sweet and full of high fructose corn syrup for me. So the food looks like an epic fail.
April 19, 2017 at 6:30 AM · I have eaten on the disney one a few times and always had a good meal. The atmosphere has also been good and we will be eating here again in July. Agree it's over priced a little but we enjoy it here.
April 19, 2017 at 8:04 PM · I wish Disney well, but this makes little sense. You can dress it up all you want, but the Planet Hollywood brand has been seen as a failure and a joke for years now. But heck, maybe the fact that the decision makers opted to renovate this place means that it was actually doing good business before.

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