Captain Cook’s is a counter service restaurant at the Polynesian Village Resort in Walt Disney World. The restaurant serves mostly American food with an island flair. Captain Cook’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and takes part in the Disney Dining Plan (1 credit). They are also currently offering a 20% Annual Pass discount. While we love the Tonga Toast they serve for breakfast, this review will cover a recent dinner we had here.
Part of the appeal to any counter-service location at the Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand Floridian resorts is the means of transportation to get there. I still get a kick out of guiding through the sky on a monorail or hopping on a boat with Cinderella Castle in the distance. All of these resorts offer solid counter-service options, a break from the huge crowds and a nice change of transportation from the usual busses. In my opinion, the Polynesian Village Resort offers the best retreat from the Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle due to the relaxed nature of the hotel’s theme. We’re talking about island living, mon. Sorry about that. Back on track, if you have ample time and a choice between eating counter-service meal in Magic Kingdom or at a monorail resort, you’re probably best off at the resort.
With that being said, Captain Cook’s has it’s good and bad. That begins with the theme. As you can see above, the inside of the restaurant is fairly bland. There’s a lot of the same shade of color in that seating area and brown isn’t the most appealing color to look at unless it’s on a big dog or bear. The light fixtures are a saving grace as are the posters. Some of the posters feature items from the restaurant and some are a nice nod to Disney or the Polynesian Resort’s history. I wish they’d sell a few prints of these posters in the gift shop but I haven’t found any (although I didn’t look too hard). All in all, I find the indoor seating area to be a little drab.
The outdoor seating is a big upgrade to the interior, unless you go in the afternoon on a hot day. Much of the seating outdoors overlooks the beautiful pool and beach. There were plenty of tables out there and, while the inside was nice enough, the outside is beautiful.
Moving on to the food, the lunch and dinner menu here (click on the word menu to see the… menu) is pretty diverse for a counter-service restaurant. Drawing from Asian, Thai and American foods, there isn’t a shortage of choices and Captain Cook’s. This is another reason to take a break from Magic Kingdom and visit some other counter-service places. While the park has a few good quick-service places, there is no menu that offers the variety seen here.
I was definitely tempted by the Curried Seafood Stew and Thai Coconut Meatballs but ended up settling on the fish tacos. If I go back, I’d likely try one of the options I previously mentioned as I like the ambition behind them. Playing it safe with the fish taco wasn’t a bad choice though. The fish was blackened and juicy. While there wasn’t much spice to it, I still thought it had good enough flavor. The slaw didn’t add much as it was lacking flavor but I did like the sauce on it pretty well.
I believe that the fish tacos come and go from the menu and I can see why. They were good but not to the point where I’d get them again. I’ve certainly had much better fish tacos, but there wasn’t anything wrong with these.
Melissa went with a noodle bowl (I believe it was with chicken but I’m not positive) and found this to be largely disappointing. The main problem was that the dish came out lukewarm. These looked like the noodles that had been sitting out a little bit too long at Panda Express, which was a shame. As for the flavor, I liked it pretty well. There was an unexpected spice to this dish, which Melissa didn’t like but I did. The dish could have used a few more veggies and meat and a few less noodles. Maybe we got unlucky with it being lukewarm and other people have had better experiences? I like to give restaurants the benefit of the doubt but this noodle bowl was largely disappointing.
I saved the best for last, as the clear winner of the items we tried were the Pulled Pork Nachos. Forgive the up close photo, these were a lot better than they look here. The pulled pork on these nachos was surprisingly juicy and flavorful. I loved the pineapple salsa and spicy mayo (the same sauce as on the fish tacos) on top of the chips, meat and cheese. I would happily go back for these nachos, as they are one of the best counter-service items I’ve had at Disney World recently. Really healthy too…
The dessert options and Captain Cook’s are somewhat lacking but they do serve Dole Whip down the way. So, I’d recommend skipping dessert here and going for some soft-serve there. That way you can walk off your dinner before dessert 😉 Trader Sam’s is also right by this restaurant and is a perfect night-cap to a busy day.
I did think Captain Cook’s prices were fair, relative to other Disney restaurants. Everything was in the 8-15 dollar range and there are some pretty good values on the menu. The sandwiches seem to be a bit overpriced but the more ambitious portion of the menu offers some good deals.
All in all, we found Captain Cook’s to be a bit of a mixed bag. The ambiance inside of the restaurant was a little bland and some of the food was hit and miss. Counterbalanced by the beautiful Polynesian Village Resort in which it lies and an ambitious menu, I still think Captain Cook’s is in the upper echelon of WDW counter-service restaurants. I wouldn’t hesitate trying it out, especially if this type of food is up your alley.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10