First Look and Review: Planet Hollywood Observatory at Disney Springs

It’s official! We have visited the newly-opened Planet Hollywood Observatory!

We came. We saw. We conquered…And We Were Thoroughly Underwhelmed. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

A major overhaul to the inside, outside, and menu seemed like the perfect excuse to head on back to Planet Hollywood. So armed with a hearty appetite and a couple of friends, I set out for what was a big, faded blue orb, and is now Disney Springs’ newest “old, repurposed” building (Disney Springs is said to be based on a town in the 1920s that grew up around a natural spring — and many of the buildings have been repurposed into shopping and dining venues…so they all look vaguely industrial).

We don’t want give away the last line in this saga, so let’s start from the beginning. (Hint. It wasn’t all bad.) By the way, this is going to be a LONG review, so settle in, my friends!

Atmosphere

Have you been to Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney? Then you know exactly where to find Planet Hollywood Observatory. It hasn’t moved. (Oh, and we’re calling it PHO from here on out, K?)

Outside View

Outside View

We walked around the building while the light was still good, just so you could get a sense of how much things have — and haven’t — changed. As you can see, most of the neon, and all of the blue, are gone. Also gone is the sign at the top of the sign. Unfortunately, nothing has replaced it, so the whole thing looks a bit — okay, a LOT — unfinished. [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland: Table Service Dinner at Disneyland’s River Belle Terrace

Welcome to Disneyland’s newest Table Service eatery, River Belle Terrace!

River Belle Terrace sign

River Belle Terrace sign

Of course, that’s not the whole story… not by a long shot. River Belle Terrace has quite the history in Disneyland, existing under its current name since 1971 (and the location itself operated under other names from the park’s first year). [Read more…]

Dining in Disneyland Review: Summer Menu Items at Downtown Disney’s ESPN Zone

Located near the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney, the ESPN Zone is a great place to take a pit stop in the middle of a long Disneyland day.  Just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Monorail Station the ESPN Zone has something for everyone in your party.

ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney

ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney

We recently headed over for an afternoon of food and fun.  Upon entering we were greeted by a fabulous team of hostesses who immediately took us to a table.  We visited mid week in the early afternoon and there was no wait.  However, if the World Cup had been playing, we probably couldn’t get near the place!

ESPN Zone Check In

ESPN Zone Check In

The menu at ESPN Zone is full of your traditional American type favorites.  Items include Ribs, Chicken, Burgers, Sandwiches, Salads, & Wraps.

ESPN Zone Menu

ESPN Zone Menu

In addition to their regular menu, ESPN Zone currently has some very tasty Summer menu offerings. AND on this special menu, you can find [Read more…]

Guest Review: Trail’s End Dinner Buffet at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Howdy! Today we’re rustling up some dinner grub at the Trail’s End Restaurant courtesy of guest author Daniel Staten. Don’t forget this restaurant for breakfast and lunch too. Let’s dig in…

The atmosphere at Walt Disney World changes often. With the seasons come new decorations and with the decades come new attractions.

There are a few places at Walt Disney World, however, that evoke a sense of nostalgia while providing a fun environment and novelty. Trail’s End Buffet at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort and Campground is one of those places.

Traveling to Fort Wilderness, and Atmosphere

Nestled far away from the hustle of the Magic Kingdom, Trail’s End feels uniquely Disney. It’s very low-maintenance and rustic.

Trails End Sign

Should you decide to dine at Trail’s End, prepare by factoring in additional travel time to the restaurant. If you arrive by bus or car, plan on an extra 30 minutes from the time you pass through the front gates of the resort.

Trail's End Outside

Trail’s End Outside

Due to the expanse of Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Resort, a separate inter-resort bus system shuttles guests to and from the main entrance to where Trail’s End is situated.

If you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom during the day and plan to eat at Trail’s End, you have the option of taking a boat. As a veteran Walt Disney World vacationer, I was taken by surprise and was even late to my reservation at Trail’s End due to the unanticipated transportation.

Seating at Trail's End

Seating at Trail’s End

Once you arrive, the tall trees and relaxed atmosphere reminded me of a family reunion, where the details aren’t fussy and the food is plentiful.

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

Eats

For dinner, Trail’s End offers a buffet with several unique and fun options. The selection of meat, sides, and desserts is sure to please families and large groups. In addition, Southerners take note: this is one of the only places at Walt Disney World were you can order traditional sweet tea. At the end of my vacation, I had been tea-free for a week and was certainly experiencing cravings!

Buffet at Trail's End

Buffet at Trail’s End

The buffet area is smaller than newer restaurants like Boma, however we never found it cramped, and this was on a Friday night where we waited about 20 minutes after our Advance Dining Reservation time.

Several items on the buffet proved to be particularly popular, including the fried chicken and BBQ ribs.

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken, Salmon, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Ribs

One of the best things about Trail’s End was the unique dishes that

[Read more…]

Review: Olivia’s Cafe at Disney’s Old Key West Resort

Olivia’s Cafe over at Old Key West in Walt Disney World is just about the most homey restaurant in Walt Disney World. Its only rival would be Trail’s End, and I see them both as a great place to meet up with old friends year after year.

These are the types of restaurants that inspire memories of heading off on summer vacation, reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while, and enjoying some good food together in an atmosphere that’s as familiar to you as your own kitchen. I guess that’s what Disney was going for with the Disney Vacation Club, and they’ve achieved it at Olivia’s.

Atmosphere

In fact, when I walked into Olivia’s, it almost felt as though the needle scratched off of the record in the jukebox and everyone turned to stare at the newcomer. Because I’m not a regular at Old Key West, it really did feel like I was a bit out of place at this restaurant that’s frequented by Disney Vacation Club members who are owners at Old Key West.

Olivia's Sign

Olivia's Open Sign

Of course, that was only my perception. After checking in, we were [Read more…]