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Photo Tour and Food Review: Captain Cook’s Reopens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

It’s quite the whirlwind of activity around the Polynesian lately!

Construction continues to affect the lobby, the Nanea Volcano pool, and the entrance of the resort… not to mention the recent name change back to Disney’s Polynesian Resort Village.

Slowly but surely, some results of all that work are starting to be seen, beginning with the newly reopened Captain Cook’s: the Polynesian’s Quick Service location. We gave you a tour of the temporary location when Captain Cook’s refurbishment began in April, and now we’re excited to share the results of the past four months with you!

Say “Aloha” once again to Captain Cook’s!

Atmosphere

The entrance feels very familiar… mainly because it’s the same ;) .

Entrance to Captain Cook's

Entrance to Captain Cook’s

Captain Cook's sign

Captain Cook’s sign

In fact, though, the entire location feels familiar since most changes are cosmetic (with a few exceptions that we’ll explore a little later).

If you’ve visited Captain Cook’s before, you’ll still know exactly where to go. Upon entering, you’re greeted by the main dining area.

Captain Cook's dining room

Captain Cook’s main dining room

Captain Cook's main dining room

Captain Cook’s main dining room

The breezy, palm-trees-swaying vibe has changed to a darker color palette, which is offset by two things: attractive light wood flooring and super fun vintage travel “posters.”

Samoa and Niue posters

Samoa and Niue posters

Bora Bora poster

Bora Bora poster

Tokelau poster

Tokelau poster

Tonga poster

Tonga poster

The one thing competing for your attention with the artwork are the light fixtures on the ceiling. These ones kind of remind me of the type now hanging in Tangaroa Terrace in the Disneyland Hotel.

There’s also a  nod to the old Captain Cook’s palm tree decor in the old ceiling fans.

Lighting fixture and palm fan

Lighting fixture and palm fan

Lighting fixture

Lighting fixture

The view from the windows, for now, are scenes on temporary walls to block views of construction.

Windows

Windows

To your right is where the culinary magic happens… because that’s still where you get your food ;) ! This is also where a few of those functional changes come into play.

Entering the ordering area

Entering the ordering area

Gone are the touchscreen ordering kiosks, and in their place is a stand where you speak to a Cast Member to place your order (we’ll get to those eats in the next section!).

Ordering counter

Ordering counter

You’ll still receive a receipt and a buzzer, and you’ll still move to the left to pick it up. The major difference here is that the bakery/pastry case is no longer there.

Pick-up area

Pick-up area

Instead muffins, pastries, chips, whole fruit, and other grab and go snacks can be found under the menus.

Grab and Go

Grab and Go

Meanwhile, cold cases line the farthest wall, where you can grab bottled beverages, cold fruits and veggies, salads, yogurt, and the like.

Cold grab and go

Cold grab and go

Cupcakes (now individually packaged with ingredient lists) are still available, but on the day I visited the case had yet to be completely filled, so I’ll definitely be curious to see what populates those bottom shelves.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

Have you noticed what’s missing on this wall? Of course you have! The Dole Whip Machine is gone. But it’s on the way friends, don’t worry! You’ll be able to order up your Dole Whips at the Polynesian once more when the all-new Pineapple Lanai opens at a later date (unconfirmed, as of yet).

Cash registers remain in the center of the ordering area (be sure to keep those receipts on you so the Cast Member can ring you up easily!).

Cash registers in center

Cash registers in center

Then it’s off to pick up whatever condiments you need…

Condiments station

Condiments station

… or grab your beverage of choice.

Beverage station

Beverage station

The smaller seating area on this side caught the new vibe, too, with the new light fixtures and similar table seating.

Side dining room as seen from the ordering area

Side dining room as seen from the ordering area

Side dining room

Side dining room

Table and chairs

Table and chairs

What will you carry to your table? Let’s take a look at the expanded menu and find out!

Eats

Classic Disney starters including Mickey Waffles and the Bounty Platter can be found on the Breakfast Menu, as always. Of course, no morning trip to the Polynesian is complete without Tonga Toast, which – naturally – is still here :).

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

Kids' Breakfast Menu

Kids’ Breakfast Menu

The lunch and dinner menu is available each day starting at 11:00 am. Long-time favorites such as the Aloha Pork Sandwich, Pulled Pork Nachos, and a variety of flatbreads have returned.

And we were curious to see what – if anything – would be new on the menu, and now we have our answer. Noteworthy new items include Fish Tacos, Coconut Curry Meatballs, a Lobster Roll, and Chicken and Waffles.

Lunch and Dinner Menu

Lunch and Dinner Menu

Lunch and Dinner Menu

Lunch and Dinner Menu

Lunch and Dinner Menu

Lunch and Dinner Menu

But allow me, please, to collect myself as I mourn the loss of the Grown-up Grilled Cheese. :( (That said, I’m wondering how the Grilled Ham and Cheese compares? I don’t know yet. I didn’t order it as part of my silent protest.)

Okay, moving forward! I’d wanted to try the Coconut Curry Meatballs since they showed up as Thai Coconut Meatballs on the temporary menu, and was also curious about the Fish Tacos.

But since nothing says “Aloha” quite like Chicken and Waffles (?!?), I just had to get those, too!

I’ll walk you through in the order I tried them, starting with the Chicken and Waffles. The description on the menu informs you that these are Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fritters on a waffle topped with Romaine and Ranch dressing.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Knowing that, I expected a bit of that spicy bite typically associated with Buffalo Chicken, and I wasn’t disappointed. Personally, I much prefer Ranch to cut the spice over Blue Cheese, so this combo worked for me.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

The waffles themselves reminded me of the cute little Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffles at the Flower and Garden Festival from a size perspective, but I have to admit that I was expecting a larger portion.

I’d figured that I’d had my spice for the day, but I didn’t realize what was coming: introducing Fish Tacos.

Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Here’s the thing: I like to think that I’m able to handle some heat, but I was completely unprepared for this. From the first bite, the heat seriously blew me away. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way.

I thought it my duty to try again, to at least attempt to tell you where the heat was coming from: the seasoning on the fish or the dressing on top of the slaw. The answer is: both. The fish had an immediate, strong heat when I bit into it. The dressing had a slower build but ended up higher in intensity and duration. I’d love to be able to tell you what the fish tasted like, but it was entirely overwhelmed by the spice.

White fish in tacos

White fish in tacos

May I propose a new name? These are Somebody-please-pour-a-gallon-of-water-in-my-mouth Fish Tacos, and the menu description should have a sign next to it saying, “For Heat Seekers ONLY… and even you might need to think this one over a bit!”

Okay, I’ve calmed down now ;) … Last – but absolutely not least – are the Coconut Curry Meatballs.

Coconut Curry Meatballs

Coconut Curry Meatballs

The simple appearance might not be too exciting, but with this dish, I was blown away once more. This time, in a great way!

At once fruity and spicy (ginger-spicy; not, you know, Fish Taco spicy ;)), and pleasantly creamy thanks to the coconut milk, the sauce is the perfect complement to the meatballs. I’m a curry fan, but honestly couldn’t detect a strong curry – just a hint.

Meatball closeup

Meatball closeup

And I know it’s just rice, but I’m often impressed with sticky rice at Disney – it’s usually pleasantly sticky without being congealed, and stays fluffy, which was the case here as well.

Closeup of rice and sauce

Closeup of rice and sauce

But even if the rice hadn’t been so good, I would have been happy with anything that helped me gather up all that yummy sauce. I’ll remain bummed about the Grilled Cheese, but the Coconut Curry Meatballs are my new go-to at Captain Cook’s.

Overall

I guess the reopening of Captain Cook’s has officially rung in the start of a new era at the Polynesian Village Resort! Yes, there’s a way to go. But this refreshed look at Captain Cook’s is quite promising, as are some of the culinary surprises within.

I look forward to spending a little more time at the new Captain Cook’s. And we’ll be sure to be back soon. After all, we’ll have Dole Whips nearby to try! As always, we hope you stay tuned… :)

What do you think of the new look at Captain Cook’s? Please let us know with a comment!

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34 Comments

  1. Courtney says:

    As a vegetarian, I feel that this new menu is a step backward. Th only option now is a cheese pizza, which is pretty much available all over the parks. I also really mourn in the last of the grilled cheese! It was one of my favorite Disney food items! :(

  2. Liz says:

    Not a single vegetarian sandwich on the menu. LOVED their grilled cheese and have no idea why they’d get rid of it – it was worth a trip over to the Poly just to get one! This is really disappointing. :-(

  3. Vaila says:

    It looks lovely, and the menu items sound very tasty, but like Courtney and Liz here I’m a vegetarian, and I’m afraid there’s nothing there which will make me go and eat there. Cheese pizza doesn’t cut it, when there are other, tastier, more interesting choices elsewhere.

    Unfortunately for Disney this means that my husband and two kids won’t eat there either (even though they are carnivores), as we go as a family, and generally choose somewhere which has nice veggie choices.

    Disney, please start marking the veggie choices on your menus, or marking those which can be ordered and made as veggie if required. I know there are people who will just ask, and nothing is ever a problem, but I’m not one of those people. If it’s not obvious that I can get fed, then I’ll walk on by… I’m sure the people who need to be gluten free would appreciate a bit of help on the menus too.

    Sorry Polynesian, but this is disappointing.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I, too, am mourning the loss of the grilled cheese:(

  5. Carol says:

    Add me to the list of mourners, I loved that grilled cheese sandwich! Not cool Disney, not cool at all. :(

  6. Joni says:

    I see the pulled pork nacho’s but what are they on? Where are the Chips?

  7. Catie says:

    Please do a review of ‘Ohana. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that it is no good anymore because they took the salad and the chicken off the menu! Went in Feb and loved it, was excited to go again until I heard so many negative reviews! Please!

  8. James says:

    I will miss the touchscreens. I find them so much easier and quicker.

  9. Arcade says:

    Are those green resort mugs I see by the cashier? I thought there was only red, blue, yellow, and purple.

  10. Leslie says:

    I’m SO glad the Tonga Toast has remained, but am also sad about the grilled cheese. I’m kind of glad to see the kiosks go, as my husband doesn’t eat dairy and not being able to ask for things without cheese is always a pain for him. Plus, the last time we ate there, we waited quite awhile after we ordered. Luckily a cast member noticed us and figured out that our order didn’t make it to the kitchen; this of course could happen without a kiosk, but at least now there will be an extra human who knows about the order.

  11. Thanks for the review! So many choices. And now I’m a little afraid of the fish taco. The chicken and waffles looks good. And I’m also sad about the loss of the grown-up grilled cheese. I loved that one. I wonder if you can order the grilled ham and cheese without the ham?

  12. Adrienne says:

    Really sad about the Grown-Up Grilled cheese :( Weaaaah! Where are the Polynesian Chips? Guess I won’t be getting my Dole Whip when we stay there in September!!

  13. Jessica says:

    I wish the oatmeal cakes from Tangaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel were part of the new breakfast menu.

    I like spicy foods but that’s sad to hear that the fish tacos were too spicy. They sounded so good. I was also wondering what the meatballs would look like. I can’t wait to try them as they sound yummy!

  14. Alexandra says:

    Just a thought for the grilled cheese mourners, I wonder if they’d let you say hold the ham for the grilled ham & cheese? May not be the same, but then again it could be….worth a shot I think :)

  15. John says:

    We visited Captain Cooks for lunch yesterday. We had the Aloha pork sandwich, Pulled pork nachos and Polynesian Chicken Salad. The presentation was great and the quality was 100%. The food was excellent and the service was quick. We loved the upgrades to the dining room as well, especially the posters and light fixtures. Thumbs up for for sure!! Aloha!! We can’t wait for Trader Sam’s to open too.

  16. So sad about the grilled cheese, it was such a great combination of cheeses and that lovely seeded bread. Also so sad they didn’t replace it with even one meatless option =(

    We live locally and often stopped in for the sandwich, but now as vegetarians there is only the cheese pizza (not very tempting – nor very Polynesian), probably won’t bother with this spot any more.

    Looking forward to Trader Sam’s though – hopefully there’ll be at least one item to eat there for us!

  17. Helen says:

    Stay at Poly all the time but my son who is vegan can never eat at Captain Cooks so wen go to Grand Floridan for counter service.

  18. Sandra says:

    No grilled cheese? I mean, how hard is it to keep grilled cheese on the menu? Even just with cheddar instead of the four cheeses, why not have a nice hot vegetarian entrée for those of us who can’t face another flatbread/pizza or salad. We were looking forward to eating at CC with our QSDP this year, but though my husband likes fish tacos and some heat, even he would turn his nose up at something that burns your nose hairs. He did like the looks of the meatballs, though! Thanks for a very helpful review.

  19. Angelina says:

    The presentation of those meatballs looks like something that you’d get in a school cafeteria. At least the hot as hell fish tacos were visually appealing. And those waffles would be a nice snack but I don’t think it would count as a whole meal. I’d probably skip Catn Cooks if these were my options. Sorry Poly!

  20. Dave says:

    What and where is the Pineapple Lanai ?

  21. Chris D says:

    Love love love those meatballs! Would kill for the recipe!!

  22. Lynnilou says:

    Thank you for the review! I am happy that it is back open, and still has the pork nachos on the menu :-) I would like to give the chicken and waffles a try also (maybe fish tacos, I like spice, but….)

  23. Keith says:

    As an epicurean, I doubt I would ever choke anything down from here…I try to not waste dining opportunities on such mediocre “food” . Hopefully, the new Trader Sam’s will have more interesting selections. As it stands, the sashimi at Kona is the best offering at this resort.

  24. Meltha says:

    This might be a silly question, but can only children order off the children’s menus at WDW?

  25. Galloping Gourmand says:

    Tikiman is reporting that the furniture they have right now is rented. If you look under the tables and chairs you can see the rental companies name. Expect the seating to be different and a little less generic soon.

    I need to reserve my opinion of the menu until I can go there but nothing on it stands out as a must visit. However this place is not meant to be a must visit. It’s meant to be a quick place to stop and get a bite for hotel guests and fills that role well enough.

  26. Bruce Patman says:

    I hope the powers-that-be read all of the passionate comments about the removal of the Grown Up Grilled Cheese. Although the Ham and Cheese sans ham might have a shot at making some people happy, I can’t imagine that it will come close to the perfect combination of melty cheeses and hearty bread that defined its predecessor. Just looking at the picture of it on the previous review made me wistful. Please come back to me, Grown Up Grilled Cheese.

  27. Joe B says:

    Great review.
    Those meatballs look good but I don’t eat red meat :( If only they were chicken meatballs. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the recipe so I can make my own version at home.

  28. tkcanada68 says:

    AJ- I agree- the meatballs and rice are completely delicious! I often find coconut flavoured things to be cloyingly sweet but these were perfect. Loved the sticky rice, too. I had a meatball appetizer at the California Grill a few days later and , frankly, the ones at the Poly were better.

  29. Anna says:

    The meatballs sound enticing, but they need a salad or some other green vegetable to balance them out. Something light and crisp would be good. I often find myself wishing Disney entrees came with a small green salad or green vegetable on the side. I think there’s still too much of a meat/carb focus in the World’s restaurants.

  30. Keith says:

    I see EasyWDW are making fun of your review.

  31. AJ says:

    Hi Keith — Ha ha! It’s all in good fun :-) Josh is a good guy!

  32. Lisa says:

    As a vegetarian, this menu has virtually nothing for me. Why does meat need to be included with everything instead of an add on (e.g. the morning eggs)? Sure we can get it without meat but we still need to pay for the meat I think. Disney needs to learn that many people are vegetarian or vegan and there are more every day for health or religious reasons. Our family of vegetarians won’t be eating here.

  33. Trish says:

    Can’t you order the Grilled Ham and Cheese WITHOUT THE HAM??? Also is Capt. Cook’s on the Disney Dining Plan?

  34. Matt says:

    I am beyond disappointed and upset that Disney chose to get rid of the grown-up grilled cheese. We are locals and considered it a special treat to go to the Polynesian specifically for that delicious sandwich. That seedy bread, melty cheeses…my mouth is watering as I write this. Paired with a Dole Whip and a viewing of Wishes from the beach just steps away made for a perfect evening out! I find it unacceptable that Disney would not keep one vegetarian option on the menu amidst all their meat entrees (another cheese pizza? no thanks!). I sincerely hope Disney reconsiders. Bring back our favorite sandwich in the World!

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