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REVIEW: Walt Disney World’s updated Planet Hollywood Observatory commands star power, but demands stomachs of steel

in Disney, Disney Springs, Food, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

For more than a year we watched the outside structure slowly transform from garish globe to urbane observatory, but Planet Hollywood‘s metamorphosis is now complete. Located in the West Side section of Disney Springs, the eye-catching eatery is not easily missed. This is mostly due to the fact that the building now resembles an observatory–Disney’s clever way of keeping the “star” emphasis of Planet Hollywood while bringing the establishment in line with the legend of Disney Springs as a Florida town that evolved into a shopping and dining district.

Planet Hollywood

Planet Hollywood’s big pull has always been its collection of movie memorabilia; however, it’s conversion to “observatory” brought along an additional gimmick–the celebrity chef. Guy Fieri, famous restauranteur of The Food Network, was brought in during the re-imagineering of Planet Hollywood to shape its menu and bring his brand of “Flavor Town” to Orlando.

Planet Hollywood

When the doors to Planet Hollywood Observatory finally opened a couple weeks ago, I was excited about the chance to dine there. More than any other restaurant in Disney Springs, this restaurant had piqued my interest. I was completely on board with the new design I had seen in concept art–a seamless merging of glitz and sophistication–and I was curious to see how it would translate to actual brick and mortar. I was not disappointed, and yet I was not blown away either.

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THE GOOD

Walking into Planet Hollywood Observatory for the first time triggers a sense of excitement. You don’t anticipate a meal, you anticipate an experience, especially at night. The place glows with soft lighting but also maintains a high level of energy with the tunes of movie soundtracks driving a sense of fun. Of course, the collection of movie memorabilia remains throughout the restaurant (and that also tends to fascinate).

Planet Hollywood

I am a fan of the new streamlined look. If the goal is to blend in with the class and “culture” of Disney Springs’ new image, Planet Hollywood has succeeded. I would describe the place as having a “sophisticated slant” rather than full-blown environmental elegance, but this is actually what I appreciate about it. Being able to enjoy a good meal in an chic spot without having to be self-conscious about my lively kids or my beat-up Converse means that I have found a winning place.

Planet Hollywood

Another unique characteristic of the new Planet Hollywood Observatory is that you can have an entirely different dining experience depending on where you are seated. Indoors are three levels of tables. An entry level at the base of a large telescopic structure has a few tables that are actually televisions, playing the music videos of movie soundtracks underneath your plates. Upper floors bring you eye level with the same videos being screened across the interior of the globe. Meanwhile, patio/balcony seating provides you with beautiful vistas of the “springs” for which the area is now known. And on ground level, the Stargazer Bar provides a more intimate and “adult” setting with its hightop tables and close quarters.

9 Comments

  1. jim

    Just a quick FYI – the LA Lasagna is one of the few “signature” Planet Hollywood items that they kept from the old menu. I really agree with you that the LA Lasagna is gross, but Guy isn’t responsible for that particular monstrosity. But every once in a while i do get a craving for the “Chicken Crunch” with is the best thing on the menu IMO.

    1. JeniLynn Knopp

      Thank you for that heads up, Jim. I won’t fault Fieri for that particular nightmare. 😉

  2. Ken Hutchinson

    As I commented on twitter I gained 2 pounds just looking at that picture of the shake. How do you test these places and all that food and stay so small? I would be big as a house if I had the job of testing these places. And how kid friendly is the place?

    1. JeniLynn Knopp

      Planet Hollywood Observatory is probably one of the more kid-friendly places in Disney Springs. There is nothing about this restaurant that would make children seem out of place.

  3. Ahnsael

    I just don’t get the “Planet Hollywood Observatory” thing. I mean…yes, from the outside, they made it look like an observatory, but there seems to be absolutely nothing inside the building (except for merchandise) that backs up the name.

    This is Planet Hollywood, so I’m glad they still have the movie memorabilia. It wouldn’t be Planet Hollywood without it. But…big domed roof, in a place called an “observatory,” and they aren’t even projecting constellations or even a random field of stars up there on the inside? Seems like lazy design.

    Yes, “Hollywood stars” and all that…but if you’re gonna make the building look like an observatory from the outside, why have nothing backing up that theme from the inside? Maybe I would get it more if I could visit any time soon (and don’t get me wrong — theme mis-match aside, this sounds like a great place to grab a bite; I’ve had VERY sub-par experiences here in the past, but would be willing to give it another shot now), but I just don’t see the “Observatory” thing aside from the outside of the building.

    On another note, I laughed out loud at the author’s description of the restaurant being not for the “faint of colon.” That’s not *much* of a change from before, but with Guy Fieri designing the menu…I absolutely believe this line.

  4. frostysnowman

    Seems like a wasted opportunity. This is the third review I’ve read that knocks the food, which is the main reason to eat at a restaurant, after all. I never at there when it was Planet Hollywood, and it doesn’t seem worth trying now, either.

  5. Linda Raymond

    WOOZA. Great review Jenilyn,thanks.
    I think Frank may have found his Paradise after reading this…he is the one with the iron gut,( guess it was all his over seas deployments —they eat anything lol). I wouldn’t be able to deal with the food, but I am gonna try that Candy Cotton shake ,oh my…………

  6. Duane

    Thanks for the highly entertaining review. You’re descriptions are both valuable and hilarious. I like the new exterior of the building. Who would have thought Disney could find a way to blend the old Planet Hollywood into its new surroundings. After reading your review, perhaps we’ll stop by for a drink and the view.

  7. Bob Rashkin

    Ha lunch there last week. I have to say these photos of the food are great. None of the 4 meals we had looked that good. My grand son had mac and cheese. It was warm, dry, and hard. They brought us more cheese for it but it was still ice cold.
    The burgers in the above photos look good. They even look properly cooked. Ours were all dry and well done. We were told
    It’s hard to cook to order because they are smashed when cooked.
    In the past I told people the best burger on property was at Planet Hollywood. Not anymore. We may give it another try but not anytime soon. The best part was the beer was cold.

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