REVIEW – Planet Hollywood Observatory opens at Disney Springs

After a rough week of pushing back reservations, Planet Hollywood Observatory finally re-opened yesterday. We made it out around 5pm, but the restaurant opened its doors closer to 3pm. Since its closing, Planet Hollywood remains the owner of the space, but it has been re-themed to an observatory in an attempt to seamlessly fit in with the rest of Disney Springs. Here are our thoughts on our experience yesterday.

Theming

The key word of Planet Hollywood Observatory is, of course, observatory. Let’s see if it can live up to its name.

When you first walk in you’re kind of funneled by employees to get a quick picture before heading upstairs to check-in.

A few menu items are highlighted at the top of the steps.

The first floor is the largest seating area with a smaller seating area being visible first.

The space really opens up in the main dining area of the first floor. At three stories tall, there seems to be enough seating here to make securing a reservation fairly easy.

Screens with music videos playing are projected onto the inside half of the dome. They appear empty here, but there is always music playing. We noticed it was Disney music, top 40, and 90’s shuffled in.

There is a bar on the first floor as well.

Stairs leading up to the second floor are themed appropriately. There is also an elevator that can take you up to higher floors.

The second floor also has a small bar.

While we dined on the first floor, I think I would have preferred the second floor for the view and a little less cluttered feel.

There were a lot more props and costumes on the second floor.

The third floor wasn’t open, but should be in the coming days or weeks.

As you exit the restaurant, you’re asked to exit through the gift shop… in typical Disney fashion.

The merchandise was interesting. I would say that the merchandise was much more heavily space themed than the restaurant itself. Click in to view a specific image.

The exterior of the restaurant is nicer after dark than the bland look it has during the day.

There is a nice contrast with the neighboring Coca-Cola building.

Here’s an overview video of the space, including a look at the view from the outdoor seating area not pictured.

Overall, this theming missed the mark. I’m not sure what part of music videos projected against a fake industrial wall screams observatory, but here we are. There is supposed to be a celestial themed projection on the inside of the dome, but just like the third floor, it wasn’t ready. Let’s compare some concept art.

One more.

Yeah, they missed the mark. It seems like all of the space-centric elements that had me interested in the concept have been removed. One can only hope that they will find a way to work them back in somehow so they actually earn the title Observatory, instead of just slapping the name on the front of the building.

Food

The pull of this restaurant is going to be one of two things. The first is the fact that Guy Fieri signed on and has his signature burgers on the menu. The second is the milkshakes. Let’s take a look at what we’ve had to eat.

Five Cheese Dip – $11.99

A flavorful, gooey dip made of Swiss, mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan & Asiago cheeses with spinach, artichoke hearts & roasted tomato, served with corn tortilla chips & toasted herb flatbread

This came recommended to us from our server and sounded good, so we gave it a shot.

This dip is delicious! The cheeses themselves combine for a nice amount of flavor and the toasted herb flatbread pairs wonderfully. The flatbread alone came with enough flavor to eat by itself, but when you paired it with the cheese, it made for a nice appetizer that I would recommend should you visit. That said, the tortilla chips were forgettable. A bit more robust that chips you could buy at the store, they couldn’t stand next to the flatbread.

Bacon Mac-N-Cheese – $18.99

Guy’s award-winning burger – Winner of NYC Wine & Food Festival Burger Bash! Applewood smoked bacon, six cheese mac-n-cheese, cheddar, LTOP (that is, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle), crispy onion straws & Donkey sauce on a garlic-buttered brioche bun

This is the burger is an award-winner, so I couldn’t pass it up. This thing is huge! I felt a bit overwhelmed at first, but pushing down on it and cutting it in half made it a bit more manageable. For me, the high mark is D-Luxe as far as burgers are concerned in Disney Springs. While this burger is enjoyable, I will still head over to D-Luxe if I want a burger. All of the elements listed were kind of just there. The mac-n-cheese was exactly what you’d expect, but not exceeding expectations. For the opening night, all of the beef was cooked medium-well, and I felt that was fine for this burger.

The fries it was served with were BBQ flavored and came in a variety of waffle, regular, and a sort of twisted wedge. I enjoyed the fries, but just like the burger, I think D-Luxe offers a better line up of sauces and would give the nod to their fries as well.

Prime Time American Kobe – $19.99

American-style kobe beef, smoked gouda, cheddar, caramelized onion jam, LTOP, crispy onion straws & Donkey sauce on a garlic-buttered brioche bun.

This burger was more memorable than the mac-n-cheese burger. The caramelized onions paired with the smoked gouda gave you flavor in every bite. I could see myself getting this burger on subsequent visits should friends want to give the restaurant a try.

Penne, Chicken & Broccoli – $18.99

Sliced all-natural chicken breast & broccoli florets tossed with roasted garlic pesto cream sauce & penne

I was in between this and the L.A. Lasagna and our server suggested this penne. She did say it was a tough choice though. If you’re a fan of alfredo penne at Applebee’s you’ll like this dish, although that isn’t a completely fair comparison. This dish features a nice tasting chicken and a fair amount for a pasta dish. The portion size of this dish filled me up just the same, if not more, than a burger and fries. This is a solid pasta dish that hits all the right marks. Just make sure that you stir it up enough to get all of the delicious pesto cream sauce that’s sitting at the bottom of the bowl to the top. For as good of a dish as this is, it’s unfortunately yet another offering that is $5 too expensive when compared to the rest of Disney Springs.

Chicken BLT Ranch – $15.99

All-natural chicken breast, applewood smoked bacon, LTOP & buttermilk ranch dressing on a garlic-buttered brioche bun

Not much can be said about a BLT. This sandwich does use the same delicious chicken as the penne above, so that definitely works its favor. The bun wasn’t as advertised for some reason. Even out of the limited menu we’ve reviewed so far, there are better options.

Chocolate Comet Milkshake – $14

Take our classic hand-dipped chocolate milkshake & bombard it with all manner of chocolate yumminess & our double chocolate brownie frosting, candy, brownies & a cookie straw – tell your taste buds that they’ve landed on the good planet chocolate

You’ve made it. You had a burger, maybe an appetizer, and if you have any room left you’ll be eyeing the milkshakes. While I think it’s either an appetizer or a milkshake for the average guest, we wanted to give this one a try from the pictures of it alone.

Just like I compared the burgers to D-Luxe, I’m going to compare these shakes to Toothsome over at CityWalk. This shake was better. While the flavor wasn’t as rich as I would have wanted, and the texture was more crystallized than creamy, it was still a decent shake. On the outside of the mug, you had M&M’s, mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and something that tasted like Whoppers. If they can get the texture right and add a more rich flavoring, you might be able to justify a $10-$12 price tag.

Overall, I felt the food we had was fine. The star was the cheese dip, followed by the Prime Time burger. The mac-n-cheese and milkshakes fell under the “just ok” category. With the options offorded to you in Disney Springs, “just ok” means pass. I also felt that everything was $3-$5 more expensive than I would pay for again.

Thoughts

Overall, Planet Hollywood Observatory is a miss for me. The theming (or lack thereof) played a big factor in my decision. It’s definitely something unique within the context of Disney Springs and probably something you’d be more likely to see at CityWalk in Universal. The food was fine, but the price was too high. I’d much rather get an $11 El Diablo Burger, paired with a $14 Smoked Bourbon Gelato Shake at D-Luxe Burger nearby.

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