If you asked someone what their go-to restaurant is at Disney Springs, maybe they would say Morimoto Asia with their Peking duck and dim sum or possibly Jaleo with their amazing tapas and rotating paella dishes. Maybe it’s Raglan Road with its live music and pub fare, Boathouse with its fresh seafood, or Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ with its Southern cuisine. Most fans tend to overlook our pick for the most underrated restaurant at Disney Springs: Planet Hollywood.
A recent visit to Planet Hollywood for dinner left us saying what we seem to say every time we visit: the food was good, the atmosphere was fun, and we should remember to visit there more often.
If you didn’t already know, the Disney Springs Planet Hollywood Observatory outside looks exactly as it sounds. It is a dome-shaped Observatory-style building 4 stories tall. As soon as you walk into the foyer, you are greeted by iconic Hollywood memorabilia like the Spiderman costume that Tobey Maguire wore in Spiderman 3, Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume, or Judy Garland’s pinafore dress and blouse she wore as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.
The walls of the entire building are covered in some of the coolest memorabilia you can imagine, which, according to our server, is changed seasonally. If you have any favorite movies, be sure to ask if there is something available to view. You could honestly spend an hour or more just walking around checking out the numerous displays. My personal favorite had to be the collection of items from the Home Alone series, including Kevin McAllister’s sled.
The interior of the dome wall features a 4500-square-foot video screen that can be viewed from any of the three levels of the main dining room. Music videos play throughout the meal that may or may not have the whole restaurant singing out loud to “Sweet Caroline” or “Let It Go” or dancing and telling a young man that there’s a place he can go called the “YMCA.” If anyone in your party is celebrating a birthday, be sure to let your server know, and they may receive a birthday message during the meal and be featured via live video cameras.
Groups looking for a quieter experience can ask for a table on the covered patio, which is on the second-level balcony overlooking part of the walkways for Disney Springs and is a prime “people watching” location. It is often available for a shorter wait time as most visitors want to be inside where much of the action is.
Meanwhile downstairs before the main entrance to the restaurant is also the entrance to Stargazer’s Bar. It is a great outdoor spot (similar to the Lava Lounge across Disney Springs over at Rainforest Cafe) to be able to walk up and grab a local Florida beer, wine, or specialty cocktail. They also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights or karaoke on Wednesdays (7-11 pm).
Overall the atmosphere can lend itself pretty well to any group: a pair of cinephiles wanting to check out some memorabilia, a family looking for a place where they don’t have to worry about the kids making noise, anyone looking for a covered outdoor dining location.
We started our meal with the High Roller Sampler, which the menu describes as made to serve 4 and includes portions of almost the entire appetizers section of the menu. The presentation is definitely the most fun part of the Sampler as the dish comes out on a large Ferris wheel-shaped serving tower. It includes the World Famous Chicken Crunch (fried chicken tenders in an extra crunchy coating with a mustard dipping sauce), Texas Tostados (a twist on bbq chicken nachos), Five Cheese Dip (5 kinds of cheese melted in a skillet with warm pita bread pieces), Fried Jumbo Shrimp (with a spicy Sriracha style dipping sauce), and Buffalo Wings (baked then fried and tossed in buffalo sauce).
The “World Famous” Chicken Crunch is the classic here and gets the most fan-fare, but (while all five were good appetizers) I personally could have had a whole plate of the Fried Jumbo Shrimp. They are perfectly lightly coated and fried with a dipping sauce that adds some great flavor and just enough eats to enjoy.
The Entree section is as diverse as you can ask for, starting with a good selection of entree salads. Guy Fieri was tapped to create some memorable burgers and sandwiches. Pasta dishes are available, including the Planet Hollywood classic deep-fried L.A. Lasagna. And finally, Grille Specialties include ribs, fish, chicken, and the new feature Prime Rib Dinner.
The new Prime Rib Dinner was everything I was hoping it would be. 14 ounces of Prime Rib steak that was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. Exactly what I hope to get when I order Prime Rib. The horseradish sauce and au jus were both flavorful and were great if you prefer either, I consider myself a purist, and neither was needed to enjoy the delicious cut of beef. Both the garlic mashed potatoes (I got them loaded with cheese and bacon because I believe that bacon should be its own food group…but I digress) and the green bean blend were what you would hope for if you were ordering them and were a generous portion size.
Overall the food did not disappoint, and the atmosphere was fun. Our meal left us feeling like anyone will be when they walk around Planet Hollywood and find some cool memorabilia from one of their favorite movies: pleasantly surprised.