Planet Hollywood Observatory Review
Planet Hollywood Observatory is a restaurant in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World. This dining spot has been thematically “re-imagined” to a planetarium, and has added a menu by Guy Fieri. In this review, we’ll offer food photos of some new items on the menu, thoughts on the theme, and our take as to whether Planet Hollywood Observatory is worth your time.
First, another “fun” edition of story time with Tom. I remember when Planet Hollywood first opened. A restaurant owned by Terminator, Mr. Die Hard, and the Cliffhanger (hadn’t seen Rocky at that point)?! It was basically my dream. I’m pretty sure my family didn’t have the chance to do so until 1996 during Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary.
The restaurant was still brand-new, having opened roughly a year-prior at that point. That same trip, we also dined at the Official All Star Cafe (owned by Ken Griffey Jr. and others); between those two restaurants, I was in heaven. They had everything young Tom wanted from a restaurant: large & greasy portions, celebrity endorsements, and cool stuff on the walls. I became a walking, talking endorsement for both restaurants, buying their attire and boasting to all of my friends back home how I ate at the best restaurants ever–so good that celebrities and athletes ate at them!
Times change, tastes change. The last time we returned to Planet Hollywood (on our first trip together to Walt Disney World over a decade ago), Sarah and I were both really underwhelmed. How was this the same place I loved as a kid?! This isn’t to say I’ve become a food snob.
I still love a good greasy spoon, and inventive burgers are one of my absolute favorite foods. We’ve dined at a few places Guy Fieri has featured on his shows, and generally have liked them. While Fieri himself is easy to make the butt of jokes, I think foodies too often turn their noses up at comfort foods like the ones he features. There’s definitely a place for this style of cuisine (Fieri’s own “Flavortown” concoctions are often a different story) and it’s worth judging on its own merits, rather than against haute cuisine or other dissimilar styles.
After all, different strokes for different folks. Even as fans of comfort food, we pretty much wrote off Planet Hollywood Observatory as being not for us after seeing the menu. No big deal. With few exceptions, we don’t experience and review things that seem like they won’t appeal to us. (It’s one of those rare situations where having lemmings contributors to do our bidding assist with things for the blog would come in handy.)
Yet, this review exists, so obviously we ended up eating at Planet Hollywood Observatory. This is due to a trip with my parents; I knew Planet Hollywood Observatory would be right up their alley, so we decided to give it a shot. Still, I was not too optimistic after past experiences with Planet Hollywood and hearing some first-hand reports from friends. As such, a more apt title for this “review” might be “Making Lemonade out of the Lemon that is Planet Hollywood Observatory.” That’s a bit too wordy.
Let’s cut to the chase. While the theme of Planet Hollywood has arguably been improved simply by virtue of covering over the faded blue and star-covered dome with grey tarps, it was really disappointing to see the design team only went halfway.
The creative team for Disney Springs clearly visited The Americana (in Glendale) and The Grove (in Los Angeles)…why couldn’t they have driven a few miles down the road to check out Griffith Observatory?! In actuality, I know this was probably more a matter of whatever group now owns Planet Hollywood Observatory not wanting to shell out the money than the design team not understanding what an observatory looks like. Either way, the results are incredibly disappointing.
Basically, the “finished” product inside is a combo of Hollywood memorabilia and stargazing stuff. Oh, plus contemporary pop music videos (as we walked in, Goo Goo Dolls’ “Name” was playing, which seemed apt) that are inexplicably projected onto the dome ceiling.
You know the phrase “addition by subtraction”? Planet Hollywood Observatory could use a huge helping of that. Cut the music videos and loud music, relocate all the celebrity collectibles into a single room (or buried in a time capsule), project some constellations on the ceiling (preferably including a “hidden Christopher Walken” among the stars), and bathe the whole place in deep blue lighting.
None of that would be prohibitively expensive. Moreover, it would simplify Planet Hollywood Observatory’s theme and make it something coherent to guests.
It wouldn’t be the best theme ever, but it’d be a heck of a lot better than what’s there now.
As it stands, we recommend avoiding the inside entirely and requesting a seat on the balcony overlooking the springs (unless you’re visiting during one of Florida’s hot and humid months). That’s what we did, and it was infinitely more enjoyable.
One acronym that is oddly missing from Fieri’s lexicon is “DB,” which is what one becomes when speaking in Guy-isms.
Now, on to the menu and what we ordered…
Per Josh’s recommendation, I ordered the Pimento Grilled Cheese. This was better than expected. It certainly didn’t have any subtlety, hitting you over the top with a pronounced cheesiness.
The garlic-buttered sourdough bread was good, and the variety of cheeses in between made for an interesting flavor. It was ultimately too rich for me to finish, but as something to split or an over-the-top indulgence, it’s a decent option.
If I were in the unfortunate predicament of being forced to eat at Planet Hollywood Observatory again, I’d play it safe by ordering this. It’s in no way something I’d seek out–but it’s one way to make lemonade out of lemons.
Sarah opted for the Mayor of Flavortown Burger. This was a huge burger topped with grilled pastrami, Swiss cheese, slaw, etc., all on a pretzel bun. Now, I’m all for inventive burgers, but this monstrosity was obnoxiously large.
More importantly, the ingredients here didn’t fuse together to compliment one another. It was just a lot of stuff for the sake of a lot of stuff. MOAR STUFF!!!1!! seems to be a common trend with Fieri’s cooking.
We had dined at D-Luxe Burger earlier in the day, and both agreed that we preferred the burgers we had there (at just over half the cost). We would avoid this unless you dislike your taste buds and/or want to play “heart attack roulette.”
My parents–the reason we dined at Planet Hollywood Observatory to begin with–chickened out and decided to split the Bacon Mac-n-Cheese Burger. In their defense, perhaps they aren’t ready to live in the fast lane of Disney blogging and eat three full meals before 6 p.m.
They were not impressed. I think they found the burger to be “fine” but nothing special, and certainly not worth the high price tag. On the plus side, this oversized mediocrity was easily large-enough to share.
For dessert, I ordered the Fargo’d Clown Milkshake Strawberry Big Bang. Unless you’re in it for the Instagram photos, this is a complete waste of money. What arrived was somewhere in between actual food and a fake prop food you’d see in a restaurant display.
The shake “dripping” down the side was a hard glaze of some sort, and the cake was hard and dry (necessarily, I guess, to stay perched on top?). Not something fit for human consumption. The milkshake inside was fine, but it was the only aspect of the dish that was edible. Still, it was smaller and not as good as a milkshake that would cost one-third the amount at 50’s Prime Time Cafe.
My parents shared the Planet Meltdown, which is a chocolate sphere with a tableside presentation. They thought this was okay, but I suspect for the price ($15) you could have a better dessert elsewhere.
One final bit of insult to injury? On the way out, Planet Hollywood Observatory staff didn’t allow us to exit the way we entered, instead directing us to exit through the gift shop. It’s not 1996. No one wants this crap.
Overall, you could say Planet Hollywood Observatory exceeded our expectations, but that requires some serious spin. “Better than expected” is true here, but so too is “but really low expectations” (and my emphasis would be on the latter). All things considered, Planet Hollywood not a restaurant we would recommend to anyone but charter members of the Fieri Fan Club. Even if you are after comfort food (or “Fieri Flavortown” style) and order the best items on the menu, the theme (that assumes it has a theme in the first place, which is a stretch) is a garbled mess. Beyond that, Disney Springs has become something of a culinary mecca at Walt Disney World and you can do better in terms of similar cuisine elsewhere. If you want better burgers at a lower price point, go with D-Luxe Burger. If you want comfort food dishes, Homecoming is a far superior alternative. Even if you literally coat everything with sugar (or smother it in sauce), there’s no sugar-coating it: Planet Hollywood Observatory is one of the worst restaurants at Walt Disney World. Now that you know how we feel about Planet Hollywood Observatory…how do you feel about it?
Went the the restaurant last night 2/2, one of the worst restaurants I’ve been to. Don’t know how you can promote Disney Springs as child friendly when you have a restaurant that is so loud. We got there and we were seated inside, my three year old was almost in tears because of how loud it was. I had to shout to the waiter, and couldn’t hear a word he said. Asked to speak to the manager, and the manager said…we can seat you outside. We didn’t want to stay, but we were going to get charged a cancel fee since we made the reservation through Disney. So, we sat outside. We were freezing the whole meal. Our waitress was a good once though, but will never go back, and will never recommend it. Not child friendly at all.
I was so excited to go here. It is sooooooo loud you can’t hear your server and they can’t hear you. It’s ridiculous. The music does not have to be as loud as it is. I get it’s a “fun” place to go but it is louder than a club. It takes forever to get anything. Will never go back! Food was ok. Can get better elsewhere.
We just came back with a large group of teenagers and our first night was at Planet Hollywood. After reading a few reviews, I had an idea of what to avoid, but given we were with a large group, that also meant a fixed menu. Most of us tried the burgers, but the macaroni and cheese and chicken salad were also options. Turns out the salad was probably the safest bet since many burgers and mac and cheese came out cold or uncooked. My burger was ok, but the top bun was cold, which seemed really odd. The fries were great though. Dessert was a super hard as a rock brownie, which after a few bites, I just stopped attempting to eat it.
Overall, we definitely wouldn’t return with our family and I don’t think I could even ever recommend it. If I ever have to go back I’ll just get the salad and skip dessert. im hoping that our group was so large that it caused the various stages of cooking to occur, but I’d rather try another new restaurant.
We ate there last week. While most of the food was typical American restaurant food, the veggie burger was amazing. This probably only hits a chord with a few people, but in a place with so few Vegan options, it was nice to eat something that was both unique and healthy.
A couple buddies and I ate there a week ago. We all got appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The apps were just fine, reminded me of any other restaurant (outside of WDW) ever. But for the entrees, I politely asked if I could get the Cajun chicken sandwich with onions (I hate onions). The server was almost abashed. She went on to tell me how Guy Fieri doesn’t appreciate people changing his recipes. But nevertheless said she would ask to find out, almost reluctantly. She came back and said we can remove items, just can’t change or add anything, which was fine. It still seemed a little strange though. Anyway, the food was fine. I ordered the same “milkshake” drink as you, except the chocolate version. That indeed, was a major let down. Won’t be going back anytime soon. I also definitely agree with your review.
I ate at the original when it first opened, while I was a cast member at the perpetually name-shifting Disney/MGM Studios. It was nothing to write home about back then either. The only really neat thing that I remember about the original was that they had Harpo’s harp, something truly nostalgic and special. This food just looks disgusting, however.
Thanks for the review. We were at Fisney in November when they were still working on it, I kinda had high hopes for the remodel as the previous restaurant was getting a little tired and needed a revamp but don’t think I will be rushing to go next time am at Disney Springs going by your review. I think turning it into a Death Star themed restaurant would have a great idea though!
That certainly would’ve been one way to go with the look, but that would not have fit with the rest of Disney Springs thematically. Not that a lot of the old West Side does, but at least they are working on making things better…
“Unless you’re in it for the instagram photos” made me chuckle.
I often say that I like a sandwich you can’t fit in your mouth, but, come on! How could you possibly even eat that?!
I tend to love your restaurant reviews because they contain my two favorite things: food and laughter. This review, tho lacking in the food category, actually made me laugh out loud no fewer than 3 times! At least we, your readers, get something worthwhile from your less-than-stellar restaurant experiences. Yay!
How dare you laugh at my pain?!?! 😉
Maybe Planet Hollywood has a food curse, as I’ve never had a good meal there. Even the tee shirt I got using the Disney MYW coupon was chintzy. Usually I salivate at food pictures, but not this time.
I’ve had my share of so-so meals at Disney, and chalked them up to a hit or miss thing. But Planet Hollywood has been a consistent miss. Not being one to waste money, I took PH off the list a long time ago. You don’t have to hit me over the head more than a few times. No sirree. I’ll just mosey on down to Raglan Road, where one is assured good food and good spirits (beer, I’m talking beer).
Thanks for the review Tom. Saved me a few bucks.
You can do a significantly better meal at Raglan Road for less money–you’re definitely making the right call!
I wonder if this new iteration of Planet Hollywood will not last long among what sounds like some truly delicious other restaurant options. Or, do they have a niche demographic of vacationers who will gravitate towards recognizable brands in Fieri and Planet Hollywood? Maybe, that will be enough to keep them going over time?
They have a demographic, but I do not think it’s a niche one. Fieri has a *huge* following, and I think there are a lot of people who view him as one of the few celebrity chefs who makes/endorses cuisine that is approachable.
I’m not even sure poor word of mouth is enough to hurt Planet Hollywood Observatory significantly. I’d love to be wrong and see it fail, but I’m guessing it will do reasonably well.
Sounds like a Planet Hollywood branded version of his garbage dump here in NYC. Maybe Pete Wells from the Times needs to rip into this one too.
The “problem” with food critics ripping into restaurants like this is that they’re preaching to the choir. The people reading those reviews would never consider it in the first place, and those not reading wouldn’t trust a “food snob” critic even if they read it.
We tried a few new spots at Disney Springs on our trip last week and didn’t even consider Planet Hollywood. Thanks for taking one for the team so the rest of us can skip it! On a side note D lux burger is pretty darn good and with anAP discount a good value.
D-Luxe Burger is a home run. It’s also a Disney-run restaurant, meaning these are the types of burgers we could have in the parks (can you imagine?!) if they’d only put in the effort…
How do I feel about it, I feel like I’ll skip it-thanks for the review!! ( heading to t-Rex instead)
I had a reservation for December 5th. They were still not open and nobody notified me.
So based on your review I am glad that as a Vegan I probably have no place visiting Planet Hollywood’s observatory.
Once again Tom!
That burger looks disgusting. I know people are on vacation, but no one needs 3000 calories in a single menu item. I wish more places would serve something an actual human could eat at a lower price.
IDK, I feel like if I want to ever become the next Michael Phelps, I probably need to start with burgers like this to hit that 10,000 calorie/day diet. Or maybe I should start by learning how to swim (well).
I am starving right now and none of these pictures look appetizing. I’m amazed you all survived.
Tom–your “MOAR STUFF!!!1!! ” bit made me laugh out loud. Too funny.
“One acronym that is oddly missing from Fieri’s lexicon is “DB,” which is what one becomes when speaking in Guy-isms.”
Ha ha, Thank you for this.
So I take it you will not be revising your “Best Restaraunts of Disney Springs” blog to include this hidden gem?
We were at DS at dinner time last weekend and we could not find a walk up that was under 45 mins. Even Blaze and D-Lux had 30 min line. So that left PH. Needless to say we went back to FQ and got bus stop pizza. I will be staying far away from PH.