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’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.
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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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).
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.
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.