Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has long been one of my favorite counter service locations.
UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village in addition to Aloha Isle at the Magic Kingdom. You can also find Dole Whip available intermittently at Animal Kingdom’s Tamu Tamu Refreshments, and at Epcot during some special events. On the upside, you can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!
But the best part? The 24-hour access to Dole Whips is truly epic. (Note, they DO clean the Dole Whip machine for a few hours in the middle of the night once a week, so Avoid. That. Night.)
On a recent Disney World visit, I headed back to Captain Cook’s to try another fan favorite – the Pork Sandwich. That day I found a few more surprises waiting for me, and I can’t wait to tell you about them…
Hidden toward the back of the resort on the first floor, it can be difficult to find Captain Cook’s. But forge ahead, my friends. It’s worth it.
The restaurant is small, but well-organized. There are several different seating areas, so if the first one is full, just head to the next one to find a table.
Seating is both indoors and outdoors here, and you’ll find plenty of four-top square tables with padded chairs. Huge banana leaves and a woven motif dress the standard restaurant tables up a bit.
Along the wall, you’ll also find mixed seating with a couple of booth options. Windows along one wall let in plenty of light and also give you a view of the outdoor seating area.
Outdoor tables and chairs are in close proximity to both the restaurant and the pool. With the big umbrellas and lush landscape, this is a terrific place to sit on those non-sweltering Florida days.
The location and decor are fairly low-key for one of the best kept counter service secrets in all of Walt Disney World! So let’s get right to the food.
The first things that you notice about the ordering area at Captain Cook’s are the touchscreen ordering kiosks located just below the food preparation area.
I love the ease and interaction of the kiosks, and it’s really cool that they’re situated right where I can get a glimpse of the dishes being made.
Since I already knew what I’d be having, I went straight to it. But for more images from the kiosk ordering screen, be sure to pop over to my review of that yummy Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. I review the delicious Hawaiian Flatbread there as well!
As you can see from the description below, there is a whole lot goin’ on with this sandwich!
I opted for a few different selections from the “side item” screen. You’ll have to wait a few minutes to see what I picked! But the pictures and the prices together in this format make it really easy to compare and choose.
After you finish the ordering process, you can have a look around at all the grab and go options that Captain Cook’s offers. Simply make your choices and add them to your tray, along with your receipt, and the cashiers will total your order for you.
I haven’t tried this Piña Colada Cupcake yet, but I wanted to snap a pic for you.
I’m hearing it’s on par with the other rockin’ cupcakes that we’ve sampled at the Poly. Have you had the piña colada cupcake? Let us know below in the comments!
There’s plenty of variety in the pastry case to satisfy your sweet tooth or to provide a quick meal or snack.
Here’s a list of the grab and go options. Some of the items are pretty standard, but a few really reflect the Polynesian menu. You can grab sushi and a pineapple cup here, for instance.
You’ll also pick up your refillable mug here, along with an ice cream treat (if you aren’t in the mood for Dole Whips.)
Since Captain Cook’s is a resort counter service spot, you’ll also find a toaster and microwave located on the condiment bar. This is a great convenience for heating up leftovers or baby food, or toasting bread or other bakery items.
Interesting dipping sauces and packages of Parmesan are available for adding extra zip to everything from fries and chicken nuggets to pizza and beyond.
Captain Cook’s is also one of the very few counter service locations at Disney that stocks chopsticks! They come in handy for the noodle bowl that we’re hearing so much about (we’ll be back to try that one).
Soon after I paid for my purchase, my buzzer went off and it was time to pick up my selection. Like I said, I thought the ingredient list for the Pork Sandwich was pretty impressive, and when it came, it looked pretty good.
I didn’t love the coleslaw, and I was hard pressed to find the cheese that was mentioned, but the pork was really delicious.
That coconut hoagie roll was a really fun addition to the sandwich. Just goes to show again that Disney’s looking for places to add those extra, unique touches.
If you like pulled pork, definitely give this one a try. The meat was the best thing about it, and it was very good.
The Steamed Vegetables? Well…not so much. These were in no way appetizing. Very limp and dull, with no crunch or fresh flavor. Maybe I got a bad batch…
The Tomato Basil Soup, on the other hand, was wonderful. This soup is a consistent win for Disney World counter service spots everywhere; so if you’re a fan, get it.
The soup is thick, rich, and delicious with just the right amount of savory-creamy feel and flavor.
And just in case you didn’t know, this is the ONLY location on Disney property where you can get a real Dole Whip OUTSIDE of the parks!
Now, when it comes to the “refill” question on Dole Whip, I’ve heard a LOT of different experiences from guests. Some say they’ve been told they can refill as much as they want. Others have said that it’s a one-time fill.
I asked a Cast Member specifically and the response was: No, this is NOT an all you can eat option. Buying a cup entitles you to ONE serving of Dole Whip from the self serve machines.
BUT, if you’re a Dole Whip master, you can fill that cup as high as you want. And yes, I totally realize that some of you will say I didn’t fill my cup to the ceiling, thereby not getting my money’s worth. Those machines are tricky. They take practice! I’ll just have to go back.
But I saved the best for last.
Remember when I said earlier that one of my favorite things about Captain Cook’s is that you can find completely unique eats here? Well, this Tiki Toffee is a perfect example of this.
Similar to an English toffee the way it’s constructed, you’ll soon see that there are some unique aspects to it.
Check out the ingredients list. Ginger, Grand Marnier, and orange juice make this a twist on an old classic.
Macadamia nuts provide the foundation, while the top is covered with a generous sprinkle of toasted coconut.
The toffee itself is a little softer than the standard type. Even though it’s quite thick, you won’t break your teeth.
And covering the outside of the softer-than-normal toffee is chocolate that is less like hard chocolate coating, and more like a fudge. This was a really lovely find.
The Tiki Toffee is a fantastic treat, and so rich that you probably won’t be able to finish it. It’s a great snack for sharing, taking home, or taking back to the resort for a little treat at the end of a long park day.
And I’ve never seen it anywhere else, which makes it even more awesome.
As you can probably tell, Captain Cook’s is pretty much top notch.
There are so many fun and unique eats and must-haves that you probably won’t be able to cover them in one trip (but you can certainly try). Don’t forget that in addition to the grown-up grilled cheese, great flatbreads, noodle bowl, pork sandwich, and unique island-style cupcakes, you can also get Tonga Toast here for breakfast!
And it meets my criteria for counter service excellence: tasty food that everyone wants to try, and they love it when they do! With the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese holding a special place in my heart and the Noodle Bowl on my shortlist for my next trip, I guarantee I will be back to Captain Cook’s.
And you should give it a try, too. It’s just a monorail ride or boat hop away from Magic Kingdom, and a great place to escape the park crazy for a late lunch or early dinner. And for a bonus? They serve 24 hours a day, so you can indulge in a snack or Dole Whip anytime, night or day!
Are you excited to visit Captain Cook’s? Do you have an experience with this restaurant to share? Let me know with a comment below!