Planet Hollywood Observatory
Bill Iadonisi returns with a star-studded review of a Downtown Disney restaurant – Planet Hollywood. Take it away, Bill!
No one can mistake the iconic “Planet Hollywood” restaurant. With its girded blue starred globe and flying saucer overhang over the entrance, it’s like nothing else around.
This Hollywood themed restaurant was the brainchild of Robert Earl, a prominent figure in the food and beverage industries, specializing in themed based eateries. His financial backers at the start were stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Baron Montague.
At its peak there were over one hundred restaurants worldwide, now only 20 remain.
Planet Hollywood is a themed restaurant in the style of Rainforest Café and T-Rex, other Downtown Disney watering holes. If you love anything about Hollywood, blockbuster movies and film stars, this is the place to dine.
It’s three floors of blaring club music, authentic props from major hit films, pictures of the stars and rock video screens.
Guests enter the eatery via a covered walkway that passes under a flying saucer over the entrance door.
From the minute you enter, you will see that almost every square inch of the walls are covered with film props and memorabilia from noted movies.
You will encounter life-sized posters, mannequins, mock-ups of monsters or just about anything else that played a part in a movie. And there are three floors of this.
In addition, there is an enormous round video screen viewable from all levels, showing continuous rock videos. The atmosphere is electric and upbeat. Everything seems busy.
Now I remember the Planet Hollywood in New York, and like here in Downtown Disney, it had rock and club music playing constantly. But the noise level here was, at least for our party, way too loud. When I asked about the music, our server Mark (a recent transplant from the Las Vegas Strip) said that it is the normal sound level.
The seating is standard wooden chairs and cloth-covered tables, nothing special. Table sizes range from a two-top to a large 10 person round table. The seating seems to be haphazard; tables look as if they were placed around on a whim.
Despite the high music level, the atmosphere is exciting. The detail is amazing and I believe it would take a few meals here to take all in all the decor. This night (Thursday) was very busy, but our wait time was only 15 minutes. Joining us for dinner were daughter Kim and her husband Sonny.
The menu here is standard Roadhouse fare, if you will. If you have dined at Chili’s, Outback, Logan’s etc. you will see a common bond in offerings.
For starters, we all ordered the appetizer VIP platter ($19.99). There was a generous supply of Buffalo wings, the Planet’s Chicken Crunch pieces, Texas Tostados and Spinach dip. The plate also came with two small cups of ranch dressing.
Everything here was hot and flavorful, but at $19.99, a bit pricey.
Anyone familiar to my reviews knows I am a salad lover from way back. I ordered their Cobb Salad ($15.50). I was very impressed with the size of the offering, which had Chiffonade of romaine hearts, turkey breast, Gruyere cheese, chopped egg, hickory smoked bacon, fresh avocado and tomatoes, and was served with Russian dressing.
It was very tasty, with ample amounts of bacon and turkey breast. My only complaint, and this is a personal one, it that the romaine was too finely chopped up. I prefer larger pieces. But again, a personal jab; it has nothing to do with the salad itself.
Another personal note, so far the Brown Derby still has the paramount Cobb Salad on property!
My wife Donna ordered the L.A. Lasagna ($17.99). This was another filling dish — fresh pasta tubes filled with ricotta cheese and Bolognese meat sauce, with a little variance from the norm: the dish was fried and served with garlic cream and tomato basil sauces.
The pasta was done correctly, and the flavors blended nicely, but she said it was nothing exceptional. The biggest drawback was the pasta sauce. Donna has been spoiled by years of my Mom’s homemade pasta gravies and the sauce on this dish had the flavor and texture of a commercial jarred sauce.
Many eateries because of time and expense do use this type of sauce, but for the price, more effort should be made on better sauce.
Kim and Sonny both ordered the Sizzling Fajitas ($19.99) with chicken (the dish could also be ordered with beef). This dish came with Mexican fiesta rice, shredded lettuce, red and green peppers, cheddar and jack cheeses and caramelized onions.
Both dishes were of ample size, and Kim and Sonny said they were the best they have had. Everything was hot and flavorful; no complaints here.
For dessert, the girls split a Cool Planet white chocolate Bread pudding ($7.95). This was really a treat for the eyes as well as the palate.
This large-sized dessert had Homemade white chocolate bread pudding served warm with vanilla ice cream and smothered in warm Jim Beam bourbon sauce. The dessert serves two and was just decadent. Everything blended together in harmony and the Jim Beam Sauce put a little zing in your mouth.
Planet Hollywood is a unique dining experience. It is very loud and everything seems to move quickly! Unlike other themed restaurants like the Rainforest Cafe or T-Rex, which have a show (simulated storms and meteor showers) every half hour or so, the din at Planet Hollywood is constant. It is not for a romantic or leisurely quiet meal. If you relish the club atmosphere and music, or enjoy the movies and movie memorabilia, this is the place.
One complaint — our server was very slow. I could chalk it up to being busy, but it was not that busy — at least for an experienced server. It took a while for him to check on us for drink refills and the food took quite a long time coming out of the kitchen. However, I will not hold that against returning again.
The menu is quite extensive, as are the offerings from the bar. Hours of operation are 11am to 12am, for lunch and dinner. They accept Tables in Wonderland and the Disney Dining Plan. And I recommend reservations; the eatery always seems very busy. Call Walt Disney World Dining at 407-939-3463. As with all restaurants on property, most special dietary needs can be addressed.