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Review: Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Resort has long been one of my favorite counter service locations.

The yummo Grown-Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Cook’s delicious cupcakes are a great reason to visit!

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…

Atmosphere

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. ;-)

Outside View

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.

Indoor Seating

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.

Indoor Seating with a View

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.

Outdoor Seating

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. :-)

Eats

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.

Ordering Area

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!

Pork Sandwich Description

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.

Side Item Options Displayed on the Kiosk

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.

Piña Colada Cupcake!

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.

Pastries and Desserts

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.

Menu Board - Click to Enlarge

Grab and Go Beverages

Additional Grab and Go Options

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.)

Refillable Mugs and Grab and Go Ice Cream Treats

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.

Condiment Bar

Interesting dipping sauces and packages of Parmesan are available for adding extra zip to everything from fries and chicken nuggets to pizza and beyond.

Special Sauces and Chopsticks

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).

Fun Finds on the Condiment Bar

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.

Pork Sandwich

I didn’t love the coleslaw, and I was hard pressed to find the cheese that was mentioned, but the pork was really delicious.

Pork Sandwich - Under the Bun

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…

Steamed Vegetables

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.

Tomato-Basil Soup

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!

Dole Whip!

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.

Dole Whip - Up Close

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.

Tiki Toffee - Front View

Check out the ingredients list. Ginger, Grand Marnier, and orange juice make this a twist on an old classic.

Tiki Toffee - Back Label and Ingredients

Macadamia nuts provide the foundation, while the top is covered with a generous sprinkle of toasted coconut.

Tiki Toffee - Unwrapped

The toffee itself is a little softer than the standard type. Even though it’s quite thick, you won’t break your teeth.

Tiki Toffee - Cross Section

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.

Tiki Toffee - Up Close

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.

Overall

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!

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24 Comments

  1. Sean R. says:

    As an Australian, I have a particular fondness for Captain Cook.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook

  2. Charles says:

    Stopped by Captain Cooks for the first time last week, and absolutely fell in love with this place. I’m a local with an AP, so i usually hit a park in the morning, and, usually, hit MK in the afternoon. I used to stop by Contempo Cafe on the way for some good lunch options. That has now changed forever! Captain Cooks is now my go-to place for lunch when on the move to the MK.
    I didn’t try the pork sandwich, but i had the pork nachos which use the same pulled pork as the sandwich. I L-O-V-E the nachos! They are big enough for a good lunch for 1 (I am a big eater) or a snack for two or more. I saw the pina colada cupcakes, but passed in favor of the dole whip. (How could i not?). Yes the machine is tricky to use, but you just have to forge on, and fill that puppy to the sky. All you can eat? nope. Tall enough to perform a unique balancing act? yep! Love the blog, although my waist line hates it. LOL!

  3. Michael says:

    I’ve always loved Captain Cooks, especially the adult grilled cheese. The only thing that isn’t pleasant… the smell! It always smells musty!

    Interestingly enough, the quick service location at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago smells exactly like it. Its also a carbon-copy of Everything Pop, from the queues, to the “pod” ordering stations, even their menu board is in the same vein.

  4. Courtney says:

    They make the one and only : Adult grilled cheese! I love this place!

  5. Emily says:

    I can’t believe you haven’t tried the noodle bowl there! That is my go-to EVERY time I stop by Captain Cook’s – It’s SO good!

  6. Louise says:

    I’ve had many a meal from Captain Cook’s as we love to stay at the Poly. But I second the smell issue, Michael! From the hallway, all the way into the restaurant, there is a smell that our family is not especially fond of. On one of our stays at the Poly in the Fiji building, we would have to walk down the hallway adjoining Captain Cook’s to access the monorail. We would hold our noses the whole way down that hallway! Fear of embarrassment or of being offensive went out the window, because we didn’t want to get nauseated.

  7. John Grigas says:

    We really liked the flatbreads here. Fresh flavors well executed. I ordered one of each (there are 3) for our family of 4, and it was a terrific light lunch for us. Just the right thing to have after getting off the plane and getting settled in the resort.

  8. Rich T says:

    This’ll definitely be a must-visit on my next trip! If I wasn’t allergic to coconut, I’d be all over that Pork sandwich and toffee! Guess it’s Noodle Bowl and Dole Whip for me!

  9. Lori R. says:

    You must try the Polynesian nachos! They are the most delicious thing…I would love to be able to duplicate them at home.

  10. Sherri Erwin says:

    I love the Poly, the smell, and I love Captain Cook’s. The adult grilled cheese is also a favorite of mine. The pork is good, but it has a bit too much of the fake smoke flavor that I don’t really love.

  11. Using a self-serve ice cream machine is actually a talent I have.

    Working at McDonald’s when I was in high school apparently will pay off when I visit Captain Cooks.

    I would probably go with the nachos over the sandwich because I’m not a big fan of coconut.

    That cupcake looks yummy, though.

  12. Jennie says:

    Would you happen to know if the noodle bowl uses rice noodles? We are a wheat family and wondered if there are any alternative choices for the bread? This will be on our list for counter service for sure.

  13. canada68 says:

    In general I really enjoy Captain Cook’s – the pork nachos, pork sandwich , noodles and flatbreads are all good. I tried the pina colada cupcake when I was there this past July and I didn’t enjoy it. The cake was dry and the pineapple filling and coconut frosting had little flavour. Very ho-hum- a disappointment.
    It’s great that Tonga Toast is available here but they don’t serve the wonderful strawberry sauce with it that they do at Kona which I find cuts the sweetness and is a great compliment. But very handy when you have a craving and don’t have an ADR or want to wait in line at Kona :)

  14. Keith says:

    Does anyone know if the soup is vegetarian friendly? Looks really good!

  15. Grace says:

    Tiki Toffee?????? OMW. I HAVE to get some of that…..

    Can you get a Dole Whip float here? Or is it just plain Dole Whip? Was kind of hoping to have the float while watching fireworks next week!

    I will now be dreaming of Tiki Toffee….. :D

  16. The “Adult Grilled Cheese” is my favourite sandwich on property!

    I’m with you on the steamed vegetables – pretty boring, often a little soggy (and this is coming from a veggie-loving vegetarian).

  17. AJ says:

    Sean R. — I just spent way too much time reading about James Cook. ;-)

    Charles — Thanks for reading the blog! I’d love to see a pic of your skyscraper Dole Whips!

    Micheal — Have never noticed the smell at Captain Cook’s! I’ll pay attention next time!

    Courtney — I love that grilled cheese, too!

    Emily and Lori R. — Will definitely try the noodle bowl and the pork nachos — on our next visit!

    Louise — WOW! I really need to check out that mustiness!

    John Grigas — Great idea! Which was your favorite flatbread?

    Rich T — Sounds like a great plan to me!

    Sherri Erwin — Thanks for your review; great info!

    Jayne — Lucky you to have the skillz!

    Jennie and Keith — Not sure on the rice noodles or the vegetarian nature of the soup, but you can find these things out by contacting the special diets folks at Disney: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/special-diets-resources/ < – contact info here.

    Canada68 — Great point that the strawberry sauce isn’t served here; thanks for the clarification!

    Grace — Yes! It’s wonderful!! No Dole Whip floats here (unless you bring your own pineapple juice) :-)

    Jasmine — Yeah; I was really disappointed in the veggies. If I’m going to make a healthy choice, make it worth my while! ;-)

  18. Ellie says:

    Stupid question you can buy the Tiki Toffee at Captain Cook’s cooks or is it in one of the gift shops. I HAVE to have some…..and yes the Adult Grill Cheese ROCKS….thank you AJ!!!

  19. Mandi says:

    We are fortunate enough to stay at Shades of Greens, where the rates are low and the food leaves a LOT to be desired! So we frequently walk over to the Poly for meals and CCs is a favorite! Very convenient on the way to catch a boat to MK or before hopping on the monorail! We love love love it here!

  20. Essie says:

    I have no reason to go to the Poly on my upcoming trip except that now I’ll be thinking about…..Tiki Toffee. Not for me of course, *ahem* but as Christmas treats for my Mother and Aunt. They would really love this and of course I couldn’t give them anything that I haven’t checked out first, so I guess that means I’ll have to get 3 bags. Thanks for the info on these great little Christmas treats.

  21. Laura says:

    We visited the Poly to try Kona last week. Between the good food and the 24-hour access to Dole Whips I almost have my husband convinced to go here next time!

  22. John Grigas says:

    AJ – We really loved the Hawaiian flatbread. But, we also ate outside so the music and atmosphere probably increased our desire for pineapple on pizza!

  23. Erin C says:

    We love the self serve Dole Whips! Hanging out by the Volcano pool with pineapple ice cream, what could be better?

  24. Kathy K says:

    Oops!!! Didn’t know you couldn’t go back for seconds (and thirds!) of the Dole Whip! Guess I know now. They should really make that clear, no?

    Popped in on our last visit in July. We live about an hour away, and did a park-free trip this time, only visiting resorts and DTD. Stopped by while doing a loop of the monorail resorts. Didn’t notice a smell in particular, but this is an original resort so some things are quite old.

    Just had the DW this time, but I’m intrigued by the adult grilled chz…it’s on the list!

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