*This dining experience took place in February 2017.
Lunch at Planet Hollywood Observatory
Planet Hollywood Observatory, is a newly refurbished version of Planet Hollywood, located at Disney Springs. I have to admit that I’ve never dined at the original Planet Hollywood at Disney (though I have when there were locations in other cities years ago). With the recent re-opening and new theme, we decided to check it out. I had also heard from some blog readers that they had been recently gluten free and had been served some decent options.
Since I’ve never been to Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs before, I can’t compare the looks from the old and new version. But, I will say that Brandon had been and said it was a huge upgrade (and that the older version was very dated inside). I have, of course, have seen the outside for years and do appreciate how they’ve retro-fitted the building to reflect the new theme of Disney Springs. It’s not perfect, but it looks a lot better.
Photo Taken by Gluten Free & Dairy Free at WDW
Inside the restaurant are several levels where you can dine and explore memorabilia. When you enter, you’ll go up a flight of stars, where you’ll check in for your reservations. There seem to be cast members at every level, asking whether or not you have reservations and directing you to check-in, which is helpful.
Because the restaurant is multiple floors/levels, they have multiple bars set-up. The second floor seems to have the largest bar area.
The inside of the restaurant has a star gazing theme. The carpet and even the decorations all reflect that observatory theme. When you arrive on the second floor, you’ll see a giant telescope and also a huge screen covering one wall. Larger tables on the second floor even have big screen TVs in them, so you can watch music videos played on the larger screen on your table too. It’s a little odd, but we got used to it by the end of the meal.
Tables on some of the higher levels included memorabilia. I loved the Indiana Jones. Just as long as it’s not Temple of Doom inspired and they serve me some of the stuff from that movie…
Of course, I wouldn’t mind an Ecto Cooler (if you’re a child of the 80s, you’ll remember this Hi-C drink) inspired by the Ghostbusters movie. These two tables were definitely my favorite.
The restaurant itself has a ton of movie and TV memorabilia. Of course, the geek in me had to find the Star Wars and Star Trek stuff. Just remember, when it comes to eating at Planet Hollywood with a wookie, let the wookie win!
In addition to indoor seating, the restaurant also has ample outdoor seating with really nice views. It’s also much quieter outside, so it’s worth requesting if you’re not a big fan of loud bustling restaurants (which Planet Hollywood Observatory definitely is).
I’ve been hearing mixed reviews on the food at Planet Hollywood Observatory. Even the Disney Food Blog had a mixed review on the options. So, with this in mind, I’ll admit I didn’t have that high of expectations. In fact, I think our whole group was a little worried how the food would be after reading some reviews.
Food Network chef Guy Fieri helped create the burger and sandwich menu for Planet Hollywood Observatory. So, you know I had to get one…for research, of course!
The rest of the group ordered a variety of options from appetizers to full entrees, so I think it’s fair to say we covered the menu options. Of the dishes ordered that might have been gluten free (but that I didn’t confirm) were the kale salad and steak entree (which Brandon got and said was surprisingly solid).
The restaurant doesn’t carry a gluten free menu or mark items gluten free on their regular menu (but they do mark vegetarian items). With this in mind, our server got a chef to speak with me. I have to admit, the chef was nice, but I’m not sure he knew the options that well. He told me I could have every burger gluten free, but then retracted a lot of that when I asked about specific burgers. He did tell me that they don’t have a dedicated fryer and that I couldn’t have the Triple Fries normally served with burgers. I ended up with pan fried potato wedges instead.
I decided on the Prime Time American Kobe Burger, which is an American version of Kobe style Japanese beef (known for its high quality and fat content). It was served on what I believe was an Udi’s Gluten Free bun and topped with smoked gouda, cheddar, and lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickle on the side. The burger was served minus the caramelized onion jam and crispy onion straws.
Oddly, the Donkey Sauce (mayonnaise, roasted garlic, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce) was gluten free but not put on my burger, but on the side. I actually didn’t mind that because it meant I could dip my potato wedges in it. And you all know I love a good dipping sauce!
I will say that the burger was solid. It tasted great and was well-cooked. The portion size was also really good (the burger itself was actually really big). I liked the combination of cheeses (since I’ve been reintroducing dairy back into my diet), and the potato wedges were such a nice change of pace from French fries. I’d say the burger was a solid choice and one I’d get again.
I did ask about dessert options and was told that there is a gluten free brownie (not sure if it’s dairy free or not) and regular ice cream. Given that the restaurant has such interesting milkshakes and dessert options, it’s a shame they didn’t have much in the way of gluten free options.
While, my meal at Planet Hollywood Observatory was fairly solid, I’m not sure it has enough of a draw to make me go back again anytime soon. There are so many amazing restaurants at Disney Springs with fantastic food and attention to special dietary needs that I’m not sure Planet Hollywood Observatory can really compete. The food was good, the atmosphere was something different, and while I enjoyed the memorabilia, it’s just simply not the best restaurant at Disney Springs. Still, I do appreciate that they are there offering simple options for guests visiting the park. And, if you’re craving food similar to restaurants like Applebee’s or TGI Fridays, then Planet Hollywood Observatory is a place you’ll like. For me, I’m sticking with my gluten free and dairy free battered burger at Cookes of Dublin or my local Red Robin for a great burger at half the price.
Have you been to the newly opened Planet Hollywood Observatory? What do you think of the options?