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 counter-service credit). While we love the Tonga Toast they serve for breakfast, this review will cover our lunch and dinners 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 gliding 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 suffocating crowds and a nice change of transportation from the usual buses. Polynesian Village Resort offers the most relaxing retreat from the Magic Kingdom’s hustle and bustle due to the hotel’s theme. We’re talking about island living! If you have ample time and a choice between eating a 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. The color palette in that seating area is boring 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 bland.
The outdoor seating is a big upgrade to the interior, unless you go in the afternoon on a hot day. Much of the seating 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 (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 at 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.
We’ll start with the Fish Tacos, which is a decent option but not a standout. 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.
Melissa has ordered the noodle bowl (I believe it was with chicken but I’m not positive) and found it to be largely disappointing. The main problem was that the dish came out lukewarm and the noodles had just been sitting out a little too long. 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.
The Pulled Pork Nachos are a winner here. 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…
On our most recent trip, Melissa ordered the Aloha Pork Sandwich. From what I could tell, the meat was the same that they used on the nachos, although with a barbecue sauce on it. We both liked the sandwich pretty well. There are better pulled pork sandwiches at Disney World but this was a good option that we both enjoyed. The fries were typical Disney World french fries.
The best entrée at Capt. Cook’s was the Curried Seafood Stew. There was a large helping of seafood in this dish including shrimp, scallops, and mussels. The curry sauce had a slight kick to it and also had a great flavor. All of this is served on top of rice. For being a counter-service dish, I was impressed by the quality and quantity of seafood. This is one of my favorite counter-service dishes I’ve had in many years. At $13.99, this was a dish I’d happily order again.
On the other side of things, the Seafood Flatbread was easily the worst entrée we’ve had at Capt. Cook’s. Because of my love for Tokyo Disneyland’s Seafood Pizza, I was interested in trying this but really there wasn’t an aspect I liked. The seafood didn’t blend well with the rich cheese. Along with that, the seafood wasn’t anything to write home about. It all made for a really rich, unsatisfying mess. Choose one of the other excellent options and stay away from this one!
Since reopening, the menu has been pared down a little. On our post re-opening trip, I tried the Thai Coconut Meatballs. These are House-made All-Beef Chili-Garlic Meatballs cooked in a Coconut Cream served over White Rice. While it’s not as good as a few other options here, I did like the dish quite a bit. The beef was of decent quality but the real winner here was the Chili-Garlic seasoning mixed with the Coconut Cream. It made for a filling dish that I found pretty solid. I think I’d put it in third place among the entrees listed, just behind the nachos and curry. At $9.49, this is a good value.
We have also tried the Chicken and Pineapple Skewers off of the Kids Meal. These skewers are served with Flatbread and a Mixed Greens Salad and Sesame-Soy Dressing with choice of Small Lowfat Milk or Small DASANI® Bottled Water. Despite being a kids meal, this is a really nice option and on the lighter side. The chicken was a little dry but everything had a nice flavor and paired nicely with the salad. At $7.89, this isn’t much less than the other entrée options but it’s still a decent value and nice if you’re looking for something lighter.
The dessert options at Captain Cook’s are somewhat lacking but they do serve Dole Whip right outside the door. 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, Capt. Cook’s is one of the more dependable options when it comes to counter-service restaurants. The ambiance inside of the restaurant was a little bland as were a few entrees. But the more ambitious items on the menu were delicious and it’s hard to beat the relaxing view from the the outdoor seating. This is one of the better counter-service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom area, especially if you’re an adventurous eater.
Overall Rating – 9/10
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Categories: Restaurant Reviews