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Spotlight: Planet Hollywood

Movie buffs, this is the restaurant for you!  Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar offers an extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia.  This planet-shaped restaurant is huge!  Towering on the outside is a spinning globe with “Planet Hollywood” in bright red neon lights. By the entrance to the side, anchored down, sits the Shrimp Boat ‘Jenny’, used in the movie “Forrest Gump”. They have Father Merrin’s cross and purple scarf from “The Exorcist“, Madonna’s high school yearbook AND one of the original blue/white dresses Judy Garland wore in “The Wizard of Oz“.  This place is loaded floor to ceiling with tons of stuff like that, everything from the rubber model of Christopher Lloyd that was run over with the steamroller in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” to Terminator’s body cast. In addition, some vehicles used in blockbuster films like Herbie the Love Bug and the Terminator 2 motorbike are hanging by string wires from the ceiling. Scary but cool!

I would recommend requesting a table on the 3rd floor, as it provides a great view of the entire restaurant.  Since this place is literally shaped like a planet, it is split into three separate levels…the rounded off edge of the planet structure makes the inside truly a grand sight to see.

It generally is super-busy here…partially because of its location at Downtown Disney, one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the world, but also because it’s so unique and everybody wants to see it.  Reservations are recommended, especially for parties of 8 or more.

I thought the food was decent, although a bit over-priced, but I have seen mixed reviews regarding the food quality.  One of the most popular meals is the World Famous Chicken Crunch, which are tender strips of chicken with a crunchy-sweet coating, similar to that of ‘Captain Crunch’ cereal.

Planet Hollywood is a fun place with plenty to see, including wall-to-wall memorabilia and a huge projection screen; a great atmosphere!

$-$$, casual dress, American cuisine, reservations accepted, full bar, open for lunch and dinner
LOCATION: Downtown Disney® West Side Walt Disney Resort – Located adjacent to Disney’s Pleasure Island
ADDRESS
: 1506 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
HOURS OF OPERATION: Restaurant: 11am – 1am; Bar: 11am – 2am; Merchandise Shop: 10:00am – 2am
PHONE
: 407-827-7827
FAX: 407-827-7847
CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED: American Express, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
RESERVATIONS: For group reservations of 15 or more, contact their Sales Office at 407-827-7836.

Universal Studios: Restaurant/Dining Options

Universal Studios Orlando

There are over 50 restaurants at the Universal Orlando Resort complex!  One of the newest is the rustic tavern, Three Broomsticks, the official restaurant of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure).  This is where you can dine on authentic British food and try the famous (non-alcoholic) Butterbeer.  Also served here are fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, turkey legs, fresh veggies, and more.  At the back of the Three Broomsticks tavern, is where you’ll find the Hog’s Head Pub, where adults can sample a great selection of beers, as well as wine, spirits, and mixed drinks. If you are on the Diagon Alley side (Universal Studios), you’ll want to dine at the Leaky Cauldron for the same type of dining experience.

Also located in Islands of Adventure are Café 4, Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous, and Mythos Restaurant. Mythos Restaurant was named the world’s best theme park restaurant for six years running.  The unique exterior of towering rock formations with carved ancient figures, and cascading waterfalls set the mood for this dining experience.  Inside, you’ll enjoy the cavernous interior and an outdoor seating area with a spectacular view of the park’s sea and islands.  The gourmet cuisine includes blueberry and pistachio crusted grilled pork, cedar planked Bay of Fundy salmon, gourmet hamburgers and imported pasta. Mouth-watering desserts and a full wine list are also available, as well as a separate children’s menu.  A full-service lunch is served daily.
Price Range: From $10 to $18
Reservations accepted: Call Universal’s Islands of Adventure Reservations at 407-224-4012.

Universal Studios has many in-park restaurants as well, including Lombard’s Seafood Grille, Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, Mel’s Drive-in, Vivo Italian Kitchen and more.  Lombard’s Seafood Grill is a casually elegant full-service restaurant serving fresh seafood, pasta, and more.  The décor includes a huge saltwater aquarium in the center of the dining room.  Along with the specialty items like New England Clam Chowder, Bay Shrimp Cobb Salad, Seafood Marinara, you’ll also find appetizers, sandwiches, pasta, and scrumptious desserts.  There is a children’s menu available, as well as wine and cocktails.  Full service lunch and dinner are served daily.  Reservations accepted: Call Universal Studios Reservations at (407) 224-3613.

Universal CityWalk boasts more great restaurants.  Here, you’ll find the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., NASCAR Sports Grille, Hard Rock Café, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Emeril’s Restaurant Orlando, and more!  The popular Emeril’s features Creole-based gourmet creations including Roasted Texas Redfish with Homemade Andouille Crust, Fingerling Potato-Cremini Mushroom Hash, Creole Meunière Sauce and Candied Pecan Relish and  Grilled Angus Filet Mignon Au Poivre – Garlic Creamed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Roasted Cremini Mushrooms and a Burgundy-Herb Reduction.  (A second Emeril’s Universal Orlando location, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, is located in the Royal Pacific Resort)
Hours: Lunch 11:30am-3pm daily, Dinner Sun-Thurs. 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Dinner Fri & Sat. 5:00pm – 10:30pm
Price Range: entrees from $21 to $42
Reservations are suggested: Call (407) 224-2424

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville provides a laid-back atmosphere with indoor or outdoor seating, live music nightly, and a “Parakeet Beach” area for the little ones to enjoy.  The décor was inspired by Buffet’s favorite waterfront concerts, and its 3 bars were themed to Buffet fans.  The Volcano Bar is a fan favorite, complete with a giant exploding volcano that erupts periodically. Guess what is erupts with?  Margaritas, of course! Along with the many varieties of margaritas and frozen concoctions, the menu features a combination of Caribbean and Key West cuisine.  Offerings include Conch Fritters, Jamaica Mistaica Wings, Corn and Crab Chowder, Bayou Shrimp Pasta, Jimmy’s Jammin’ Jambalaya, Calypso Mahi Mahi, Key Lime Pie, and the ever popular Cheeseburger in Paradise®.
Click here for menu.
Hours: 11:30am – 2:00am
Service Type: Full Service
Price Range: entrees from $10 to $25
Participating Movie and Meal Deal Location: Yes

Did you dine while visiting Universal Studios? We’d like to hear about your experience – please write a comment by clicking “Comments” at the top of this post!

Spotlight: Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament

Although we’d rather have visitors choose Capone’s Dinner Show over any other dinner theater, many guests attend multiple shows during their vacation. Therefore, we’d like to provide our ‘review’ of the other shows in the area. In this post we spotlight Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. We’ll give you our favorable comments – as well as some insight as to why Capone’s may be your better choice – if you’re only attending one dinner show.

 

Read our review…

This 11th century-style dinner attraction was inspired by the true medieval tradition of royal families inviting guests to a festival and feast to watch knights compete on horseback.  You can’t help but notice the Castle’s towering white walls, complete with moat and drawbridge, in the Kissimmee landscape.  The Castle also features an authentic eight-cottage medieval village.  Some things have changed over the 27-year history of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, such as the characters and the storyline, but the commitment to the accuracy of the weapons and costumes of the times have not changed.

Royal guests are treated to a romantic, snowy rendezvous in the woods and an authentic sword fighting and medieval jousting tournament on horseback!  This entertaining show really lets you get a glimpse into the years from the century of 1001 to 1100.  Along with the kings and knights, the stars of this show include some very talented stallions.  These magnificent horses are raised mainly at the Medieval Times’ Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas.  This 241-acre ranch houses Quarter Horses, Menorcans, Friesians, and also breeds purebred Spanish Andalusians.  They raise more than 400 horses here and begin training them early, introducing them to lead ropes and halters as weanlings.  More initial training follows until age three, when they move to one of the nine Castles in North America.  Here, they learn advanced-level dressage from a Master horse trainer.  Then, they get to live the pampered life of a performer!

The general consensus of this attraction is the show is very entertaining, and the medieval village is interesting, but there is no staff on hand in the village to explain things to the guests.  Things were sure a lot different in the 11th century so the average guest does not know what the artifacts were used for.  The staff generally seems disinterested and robotic, not ‘in character’ like the staff at Capone’s and some of the other dinner shows.  They also have vendors running around during the show trying to sell you souvenirs.  To me, this is a turn-off.

The show also includes a 4-course feast.  This starts with soup, then chicken, ribs, potato and dessert, served by medieval characters. They do have a vegetarian meal available as well.  Most people agree that the food was not the highlight of this show, and that the wait staff gets in the way of the show.  Capone’s buffet keeps the food HOT unlike plated food with servers trying to deliver hundreds of plates of food to the guests while still hot – many guests receive cold food at other dinner show restaurants.

Medieval Times also tries to save money on their beverages by not keeping guests glasses full. I personally think the dinner at Medieval Times is probably the worst of any dinner shows in Orlando. In my opinion they would be better served increasing their quality of beverages and dinner. That’s the track we took at Capone’s Dinner & Show and we have had to raise our prices slightly to deliver a tasty meal and upgraded beverage choices.  We also offer the best selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. Medieval Times does not pour a premium draft and the only other choice for alcoholic beverages is wine.

As we mentioned in our August article, if you desire to attend Medieval Times, check with Medieval Times directly and then check out ticket resellers prices. Be sure and look at the differences on seating and upgrade deals.  They have been offering discount prices direct to consumer, so you may actually pay more going thru a reseller.

Spotlight: Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

At the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, there is so much to do! Of course, the main attraction is the 400+ animals, some of which include cheetahs, kangaroos, leopards, and Maude, the long-time resident Asian elephant. This zoo also contains the Southeast’s largest collection of venomous snakes and non-venomous reptiles in the Herpetarium. You can even learn some things about bugs at the Massey Services Insect Zoo.

There are several demonstrations offered on the weekends including a bird show, elephant demonstration, bug encounter, and primate feeding program. They also have a special behind-the-scenes elephant encounter where you can learn more about this fascinating animal and even get to find out what an elephant trunk feels like, with all its 100,000 muscles. (Elephant Encounter is an additional purchase, weather permitting.)

Along with the amazing animals, this zoo boasts beautiful, lush botanical gardens. You can also bring your bathing suit and cool off in the Wharton-Smith tropical splash ground. Included with regular admission, everyone will enjoy cooling off on those hot summer days at this watery, animal-based playground.

You may even try ZOOm Air Adventure Park, which is an aerial adventure course featuring zip lines and rope bridges, so you can experience the zoo from an animal’s perspective – in the tree tops! There are three tree top courses available; including a kid’s course (must be 36” tall, separate admission). There are even night-time aerial adventures available. The zoo also offers Battlefield Live Orlando Laser Tag, summer camps, birthday parties, volunteer opportunities and more!

This zoo was originally opened as the Sanford Zoo in 1923 with a collection of donated animals held by the Sanford Fire Department. It was relocated later and has been at its present site since 1975 and it continues to grow as Seminole County’s premier recreational and educational attraction. The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens’ most visible role is to provide its guests with recreation and the opportunity to observe and learn about its unique and interesting animals. One of the Zoo’s most critical functions is to provide a refuge for animal species that are threatened in the wild. You even have the opportunity to adopt an animal!

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located at 3755 NW Hwy 17-92 Sanford, FL, approximately 32 miles from the Orlando tourist area.

For more information about the Central Florida Zoo, visit their website. Feel free to contact Al about your visit to the Central Florida Zoo and share your tips and experience!

Spotlight: Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Although we’d rather have visitors choose Capone’s Dinner Show over any other dinner theater, many guests attend multiple shows during their vacation. Therefore, we’d like to provide our ‘review’ of the other shows in the area. In this post we spotlight Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. We’ll give you our favorable comments – then at the bottom of the article, we’ll provide a few reasons why we think Capone’s may be your better choice – if you’re only attending one dinner show.

Read our Dinner Show Review

Ahoy Mate, check out the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure Show for a swashbuckling good time.  This interactive show has  comedy, romance, acrobatics, a hearty feast, and plenty of action!  The ‘stage’ is actually a fully-rigged pirate ship!

The fun starts even before the show begins as you enjoy The Kings Festival, where you get to take pictures with pirates and enjoy appetizers, as well as a full bar.  You can purchase souvenirs from the gift shop.  You can also customize your adventure by upgrading your package to the Governor’s VIP Lounge Experience in the beautifully decorated Treasure Trove. The Governor’s VIP lounge is perfect for private parties (birthday, anniversary and wedding) or any special event.
(Tip: book in advance as seating is limited in the Treasure Trove and tends to sell out.)

During the show, enjoy a delicious three-course feast as the reprehensible pirate, Sebastian the Black, has captured the beautiful Princess Anita, her court AND the audience.  Audience members get to participate, and there are parts for both adults and children alike.  Dinner includes a salad or soup, chicken or pork main dish, complete with sides, and a royal dessert.  A great time for the entire family!

After this delightful show, check out the after-show party, The Buccaneer Bash.  The perfect end to an evening of adventure, you can meet the pirate crew from the show and dance the night away at this 70s-style disco.

Purchase your tickets online for a special discount. Be sure to choose the Orlando, Florida location, not the Buena Park in California dinner show. This is their other location.

Another option for adults is Treasure Tavern; a separate, 18 and older show located within the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure complex.  This 2-hour show is filled with comedy, acrobatic acts, live music, dancing, fantastic dining, and plenty of rum!  You can enjoy the signature Rum Punch, free upon entry (to those over 21).   Opened in 2010, this new show is a wonderful getaway from the ordinary.

Now that you are a little more familiar with Pirates Dinner Adventure, wed like to share how Capones compares.

  • Parking is free at Capone’s – Pirate’s charges extra to park.
  • Pre-show drinks are far more expensive than Al’s Secret Hideaway Bar.
  • Free refills of your drink during the show have been noted as slow to come – our staff will keep your glasses full.
  • ALL of our drinks are included in the ticket price – even alcoholic drinks – and we offer more choices; Pirate’s charges extra for certain drinks.
  • Because we offer a buffet, our servers will not be interrupting the show – in fact, our wait staff often becomes part of the show!
  • Our buffet keeps the food HOT unlike plated food with servers trying to deliver hundreds of plates of food to the guests while still hot – many guests receive cold food at other dinner show restaurants.
  • Our souvenirs are reasonably priced with dozens of items under $5.
  • Seating allows a little more room than some dinner shows that cram as many guests on benches with limited elbow room.
  • Although Capone’s does not offer pre-show appetizers, many reviews claim the appetizers do nothing to contribute to a good experience at Pirates.
  • Capone’s upgraded the lighting and sound system in 2008 which has added to the overall experience – especially for our older guests.
  • Our theatre has undergone a renovation – beautiful and CLEAN – and still manages to keep the 1930’s charm.