Planet Hollywood is basically a Hard Rock Cafe clone, except that where the Hard Rock Cafe pays tribute to the music industry, Planet Hollywood is a virtual shrine dedicated to the movies. But while the Hard Rock Cafe is content to exhibit mostly guitars, gold records, and posters, Planet Hollywood offers a much wider range of Hollywood props. In fact, Planet Hollywood is probably the best Hollywood "museum" you can visit in Southern California.
Virtually every square inch free space at Planet Hollywood is filled with glass cases containing terrific Tinseltown memorabilia.
To the owners' credit, all of these movie props are accompanied by plaques identifying which movie they are from and the star who used them, as well as by freeze-frame color photos from the movies, which show the displayed items as they were actually used in the film.
Farther inside, near the south end of the restaurant, you'll pass a life-size "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle" costume (it's 'Raphael'), and a rotating figure of Schwarzenegger as the disfigured "Terminator" (complete with a glowing red eye). Nearby is a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in "Bus Stop," the famous bicycle ridden by Paul Newman and Katharine Ross (to the tune of "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head") in "Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid"), and a giant statue of the monster from "Aliens."
There are movie posters and celebrity magazine covers everywhere you look. Just around the corner is the vial of magic youth elixir from "Death Becomes Her," the costume worn by Bruce Willis in "Die Harder," and the personal whisky flask carried by Clark Gable. Overhead is a shredded white shirt from "Edward Scissorhands" and a coat worn by Charlton Heston in "Ben-Hur."
The middle section of Planet Hollywood offers such goodies as Warren Beatty's yellow hat and machine gun from "Dick Tracy," Sly Stallone's trunks and red boxing gloves from "Rocky," and the gleaming silver hook worn by Dustin Hoffman in Spielberg's Peter Pan fantasy, "Hook."
Nearby is the knife from "Rambo" and a fringed leather jacket worn by John Wayne.
On the way to the rest rooms, you'll pass the infamous silver ice pick wielded by Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct," plus Mel Gibson's jacket from "Lethal Weapon 3" (complete with dog biscuits in the pocket).
Head upstairs to the lounge, and you'll discover Bo Derek's famous gold swimsuit from the movie "10," a rifle used by Roy Scheider to ward off the menacing "Jaws," the Penguin's abandoned baby carriage from "Batman Returns," and a red dress worn by Judy Garland in the 1954 version of "A Star Is Born."
A large mural covering the north wall features portraits of stars ranging from John Wayne to Whoopi Goldberg, next to a room re-creating the Star Trek Enterprise bridge.
Every few minutes, movie screens drop down from the ceiling, and clips from hit films (past & present) are projected above the heads of the customers.
Planet Hollywood has also taken a page from the Chinese Theatre, and has started immortalizing the handprints of visiting movie stars in cement (along the outside front wall). So far, their collection of prints includes Paul Newman, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Jack Nicolson, Clint Eastwood, Meg Ryan, Geena Davis, and Stephanie Powers. (Click here to read the separate page about Planet Hollywood's celebrity wall.)
The noise-level here is pretty high, and the food is mostly casual: e.g. burgers, Caesar salads, and Cajun chicken sandwiches. But the menu is a bit more ambitious here than at the Hard Rock Cafe - it includes a baked Italian sandwich, good blackened shrimp, Creole pizza, a spicy chicken pasta, and desserts such as Snickers pie, Oreo mousse pie, and big banana splits. It's also a bit more expensive: dinner for two will cost you about $45 (although if you play your cards right and stick to hamburgers and a shake, you could shave that number down to around $25.)
And of course, there's also a small souvenir shop where you can also buy t-shirts, jackets, and wristwatches galore, all bearing the Planet Hollywood logo. After all, what is a place like this all about, if not keen merchandising?
Is the concept working? Well, so far. There are now dozens of Planet Hollywoods around the world (including Israel and China), with plans calling for 20 more restaurants to open in the near future. They recently opened a large new Planet Hollywood right in the middle of Beverly Hills, and it features what may be an even more impressive collection of movie memorabilia. And they are still adding celebrity partners. In mid 1998, actor George Clooney ("Batman & Robin") became the most recent star to own a slice of Planet Hollywood.
Getting there: The original Southern California Planet Hollywood is located in South Coast Plaza Village, on the north side of Sunflower. Take the San Diego (405) Freeway south to the Bristol exit in Costa Mesa, go north to Sunflower, and turn left (west). The restaurant will be on your right (north) side. (See directions for South Coast Plaza mall.)
[For more information on this subject, you can access the official Planet Hollywood website at: http://www.planethollywood.com.]
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