This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at PLANET HOLLYWOOD OBSERVATORY! After every trip to Walt Disney World, TouringPlans sends its members a survey to see how satisfied they were with each part of their vacation. In 2016, we received more than 122,000 responses on WDW restaurants. To put that number in perspective, TouringPlans has more surveys on WDW restaurants than Yelp and TripAdvisor combined.
In total, there were 909 options that readers could give a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to and these included everything from table service restaurants such as the Grand Floridian’s Victoria & Albert’s to the turkey leg cart in Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland and everything in between. In the list of over 900 WDW venues where a person could get food, Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs came in dead last.
But that was the old Planet Hollywood. In January of this year, the newly reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory opened with a menu partly inspired by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. That’s right, Flavortown was coming to Disney.
With Downtown Disney’s recent transformation into Disney Springs, the area now boasts not just the greatest collection of restaurants at Walt Disney World, but possibly in all of Orlando. Restaurants such as Homecomin’, Morimoto Asia, and The BOATHOUSE have joined longtime favorites Raglan Road, the House of Blues, and Wolfgang Puck Express to deliver a murderer’s row of fantastic dining experiences.
Would the reimagined Planet Hollywood Observatory completely change the restaurant and put it up there with the best of the best?
In a word: no. But, in a lot more words the Planet Hollywood Observatory is completely next level bonkers in a way that you need to experience. At Disney we’ve eaten ice cream out of 10 gallon cowboy hats, seen poop snacks at Animal Kingdom, and have even order the infamous Pop Tart sandwich at Pop Century and we still weren’t prepared for what we saw at the Observatory. Today we’re going to take a look at the most unique options at the Observatory, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…
# 6 – High Roller Platter Served in a Ferris Wheel
Talk about a “wow factor” right away, the High Roller Platter appetizer comes out a giant ferris wheel that will draw attention from anyone sitting near you. It is visually spectacular and includes chicken crunch, Texas tostados, Buffalo wings, five cheese dip, and peri-peri shrimp. The ferris wheel itself does not move, but it is an incredible visual. ($34.99)
# 5 – BBQ Ribs Served on a Miniature Picnic Table
One of our family’s favorite things to do at WDW is get the Kitchen Sink Sundae at Beaches and Cream. Having the dessert served in a “kitchen sink” is really fun and helps add to the overall experience. Over at the Observatory, they have an entree that is also served in a completely bananas way, on a miniature picnic table. The ribs, coleslaw, and french fries were actually tasty. I’m not sure if the food itself justifies the price, but the presentation is unforgettable. ($29.99)
# 4 – World Famous Chicken Crunch
The signature item at Planet Hollywood is their World Famous Chicken Crunch. The menu says they are “hand breaded with a sweet coating,” which is a mixture of corn flakes and Captain Crunch cereal. Yes, that sounds insane, it is insane, but they are actually fantastic. One day we’re going to have to do a SATURDAY SIX just on chicken tenders at WDW because there are some seriously great ones on property, and The Observatory’s are up there with the best of them. While the chicken crunch does come with the High Roller we mentioned above, if you order them separately they come delivered in this cute retro-looking chicken basket that looks straight out of something from 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Love it. ($12.99)
# 3 – Planet Meltdown
Time for a dessert and the Planet Meltdown not only tasted great, but had a show element as well. The server brings out a chocolate sphere, and then begins to pour hot caramel sauce on top until the sphere starts to melt away and revel a double chocolate fudge cake underneath. Bonus points for having an edible Planet Hollywood Observatory piece of white chocolate. ($12.99)
# 2 – The Burgers!
Walt Disney World has a lot of burgers on property, but nothing quite like the “big bite burgers” you’ll find at the Observatory. WDW fans who love acronyms will enjoy that the burger menu includes a breakdown of what they call “Guy-isms.” These include: LTOP (lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle), Donkey Sauce (mayo, roasted garlic, mustard Worcestershire sauce, s&p), and SMC (super melty cheese). The burgers are all gigantic, and each include “triple fries” which are three separate types of seasoned french fries in one container (standard french fries, waffle fries, and potato wedges). The plates have a skull wearing a chef’s toque, and the burger buns – except the pretzel bun – have a skull imprinted onto the top of them. Why? Who knows, but that is the magic of Flavortown. (range from $15.99 to $19.99)
# 1 – Super Nova Shakes
Readers of the SATURDAY SIX know how much we love the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium over at Universal, in part because of their completely outrageous milkshakes. Turns out, those shakes were just the beginning of a new shake revolution. Believe it or not, the new Paddlefish restaurant has crazy shakes, but the Observatory takes it up to an “11.”
There are three Super Nova Shakes and each one of them has the potential of putting you directly into a sugar coma, so of course we had to try all three. My personal favorite was the Chocolate Comet Shake, but I would probably like anything if you shoved Kit Kats into it. It has a chocolate based shake, has brownies stuffed into it, and includes a bunch of candy attached to it via chocolate. The Cosmic Cotton Candy Shake is going to a big hit with kids, as the large lollipop sticking out of it along with the even larger amount of cotton candy will draw them in like flies to a bug zapper. The Strawberry Big Bang Shake may actually be the most impressive of all with a full size slice of birthday cake on top. ($14.00)
HONORABLE MENTION – The Salads
The way salads are served at the Observatory is really neat. The arrive in a large cylinder, so that you get to see the entire salad like a cross section of the Earth. Now, our server started to pull the cylinder away before we got a chance to take a picture of it, so unfortunately I had to stab him with one of the large knives that come with the burgers. Because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and the unwritten code of theme park blogging, I was able to get away with this with no repercussion but I do send thoughts and prayers to the server’s family. Anyway, here is what the salad looks like with a little bit shaken out of it.
The server then slowly shakes off the tube and the salad comes together in the bowl. It was the most unique presentation for a salad I have ever seen, and possibly the only reason to ever order a salad in the first place.
DOUBLE SECRET HONORABLE MENTION – DONKEY SAUCE
We’ll be back in the near future with a Disney Dining article on the Observatory. This will show some of of the unique memorabilia in the restaurant (where else are you going to find stuff from Home Alone, Deadpool, Shawshank Redemption and Misery?!) and we will try to explain – to the best of our abilities – the overall atmosphere. Keep an eye out during the week on the TouringPlans Blog for that baby.
So there you have it: A SATURDAY SIX look at Planet Hollywood Observatory! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
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Special Thanks to crack staff photographer Brandon Glover, theme park blogging’s rookie of the year award winner Kinny Brown, SATURDAY SIX pledge Kenny Laughters, the Sommelier of Tony’s Town Square Brian Carey, and blogger to the stars Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Be sure to also check out Brandon on The Park Blogger podcast with goofballs co-hosts Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde , while fellow Potterheads may enjoy Meg’s work on the Central Florida Slug Club.
FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2017 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it? Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now and support SIX NATION (boy do we need a better name than that.)