Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian Resort reopened in the middle of last week after closing at the end of March for what ended up being a refurbishment that lasted about 4.6 months.
Changes are limited mostly to the cosmetic, though a few operational changes affect the overall guest experience.
The self-serve ordering kiosks are gone – replaced by exactly one cast member accepting orders, which seems a bit short-sighted considering the resort is currently expanding.
When we arrived at 3:25pm on Sunday August 17th, there were two people in line in front of us. While waiting the 14 minutes it took for our food to arrive, the line backed up outside with just two or three families arriving. And that’s with about 40% of rooms out of inventory due to DVC construction.
After ordering from one cast member, you walk your receipt eight feet to the left and pay here after potentially collecting dessert or other items from one of the fridges.
And then wait for the Disney Difference themed buzzer to go off and collect your food from a third counter.
Lunch and dinner menu:
Several items are brand new to the location, including the Chicken and Waffles, Fish Tacos, and Grilled Ham and Cheese. One noticeable item missing is the “Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich.” In fact, there’s really only one vegetarian item on the menu – the Traditional Flatbread, though the various salads and udon noodle bowl can be ordered without meat. Nonetheless, the lack of vegetarian options is a decided step in the wrong direction.
Nothing has changed on the RapidFill front other than the paper cups are good for two hours from the time of purchase for up to four fills. Cook’s has Coca Cola, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Fanta Orange, Barq’s Root Beer, Minute Maid Lemonade, and Powerade in the RapidFill machines. Gold Peak Tea, Hot Chocolate, Coffee, and Water remain unregulated.
Seating is comfortable and it “felt” brighter and more pleasant inside with the fun retro posters depicting the various longhouses.
Construction compromises most of the views for now.
Lisa tried the Fish Tacos – Blackened Fish of the Day on a Flour Tortilla topped with Broccoli Slaw – $7.99. Unlike most quick services, most of the items at Cook’s come unbundled, meaning it’s just the entree. We were advised that a side would be an additional $2.
The Polynesian chips at Cook’s are actually really good and a smart choice if you’re hungry and like chips. The slaw is a small cup, but it’s cold and refreshing on hot days. We ended up declining a side, which meant the two tacos arrived sort of sad-looking next to each other on a large plate.
The fish is actually the same as what was recently added to Sunshine Seasons at Epcot. The fish is quite spicy with a poblano pepper aioli that’s unadvertised at Cook’s. We didn’t mind, but be prepared for one of the spiciest quick service dishes on property should you opt for the tacos. They’re otherwise recommended with the Sunshine Seasons version being one of our all-time favorites.
I ordered the Chicken and Waffles – Crispy Buffalo Chicken Fritters on a Waffle topped with Romaine and Ranch Dressing – $7.99.
These are two freshly pressed waffles doused in honey with buffalo chicken nuggets, romaine lettuce, and ranch salad dressing on top. While a popular dish, I’m not sure the sweet/spicy elements complemented or contrasted particularly well here. On the plus side, it was more filling than you might expect and a fairly unique offering.
In the fridge:
Hopefully sushi from upstairs will return once Kona Island Sushi Bar reopens at the beginning of October. Otherwise it’s salads, lobster rolls, turkey sandwiches, noodles and other grab-and-go items.
No Dole Whips are currently available at the Polynesian. They are expected to return at the Pineapple Lanai at the end of the month, along with the addition of Dole Whip Floats. Trader Sam’s opens next to Captain Cook’s sometime next year. Tonga Toast is still available at breakfast along with the rest of the menu.
Cook’s offers a nice variety of food outside the limited vegetarian options and the refurbishment has only made sitting and eating inside more pleasant. One major negative may be the single cast member accepting orders. Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge works somewhat similarly where one or two cast members mark a paper slip with what you want to order and then you collect other items and pay. Things should work out one way or another.
The Poly otherwise remains a mess during the DVC construction and pool refurbishment.
Half of the entryway walled off.
Fountain destroyed and completely walled off.
Upstairs walled off.
Store walled off, though Samoa Snacks continues to operate.
Kona Island Sushi/Coffee Bar walled off.
Pool walled off.
Looking out from the upstairs windows toward Magic Kingdom.
DVC construction continues.
From the bridge over to the monorail.
One last look.
A few days ago, Disney Parks Blog announced Golden Oak Outpost would begin offering a menu heavy on Waffle Fries.
Four varieties arrive alongside Sweet Potato Nuggets. Currently, the location operates from 11am-9pm.
I gathered the usual suspects to give them a try. Unfortunately, we came away unanimously disappointed.
First up is the $5.99 Brown Gravy and Cheese Waffle Fries topped with Brown Gravy and White Cheddar or as literally every other review has SO CLEVERLY POINTED OUT it’s like poutine! The first problem here is portion size. Six bucks buys you about eight limp, largely unseasoned waffle fries, this time topped with Heinz gravy and a sprinkle of very salty cheese. Nobody finished these, despite potentially looking attractive.
BLT Waffle Fries topped with Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Ranch Dressing -$5.99 or as every other review has SO CLEVERLY POINTED OUT they are almost Figaro Fries! Minus cheese! Because Disney really is that cheap! If the fries were crispier, these would be pretty good, despite the brown lettuce and doesn’t-need-to-be-refrigerated-somehow-via-science bacon. Six bucks is still pretty rough.
Barbecue Pork Waffle Fries topped with Barbecue Pork and (theoretically) Coleslaw – $5.99. In this instance, your $6 buys you six waffle fries topped with a scoop of Pecos Bill’s “pulled pork,” which is in the vicinity of Lloyd’s meat tub quality. Taste here is what you would expect from the low quality pork doused in a sweet sauce over unseasoned french fries.
For a buck-fifty more at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments, you can order a gigantic Chicken and Waffle Sandwich.
Eight dollars buys you a heaping pile of chips, chili, and cheese at either nearby Tortuga Tavern or Casey’s.
Anyway, you may want to lower your expectations on the waffle fry front.
On the positive side of things, we all enjoyed the $2.99 Sweet Potato Nuggets, which arrive with about 20 piping hot morsels dusted with powdered sugar. They have a nice subtle sweetness to them along with a nice crispy exterior.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover reopened after a relatively brief refurbishment. Astro Orbiter is currently expected to reopen September 28th.
While it’s unlikely that anyone without @disney in their Twitter handle cares, the exit escalators are now sort of orange, sort of red.
With most of the paint work yet to commence, it’s difficult to say how it will tie in to the rest of the concrete jungle that is Tomorrowland. But perhaps a little color never killed anybody.
Outside of the paint job, PeopleMover is otherwise unchanged, save for some reupholstered seats.
Astro Orbiter’s elevator shaft is painted red for more of a NASA vibe.
The color may or may not attract people as the line is backed up into Tomorrowland at 4:40pm on the 17th.
Back out front, Disney is replacing the roof on the Wilderness Lodge/Ft. Wilderness dock.
Character wait times are a strange phenomenon. Granted we’ve doubled the Tinker Bell Capacity at Town Square Theater and hid her inside a building where the theming doesn’t make any sense, but her waits were routinely 45+ minutes in Adventureland. And 10 minutes at Town Square Theater.
Just in case you’re looking for Aurora/Sleeping Beauty and Marie/The Cat, you’ll find them nearby in Town Square.
The only scrim in Magic Kingdom.
Not the only wall as Hub construction continues.
And yes I’m still serious that it’s going to take another year.
Pretty in the opposite direction.
In surprise bench news, the tent in the back of Storybook Circus added a lot of ummmmmmmm eclectic seating surfaces:
Cue hilarious joke about needing a FP+ for the Storybook Circus picnic table.
Considering “literally” nobody comes back here, this all seems a bit superfluous, particularly because it has closed the FP+ kiosk back here (“temporarily,” though it’s already been three weeks).
There’s already plenty of seating. And it’s so slow that they had to relocate the pretzel cart next to Dumbo to drum up business.
At 6:20pm, Mine Train was posted at 50 minutes.
Anna/Elsa all the way down to 60 minutes at the same time.
Walls up at the store to the right of Friar’s Nook.
Peter Pan’s Flight is undergoing an extensive queue refurbishment that’s expected to bring interactive elements and wider lanes for ECVs/wheelchairs/Americans.
Much of the queue is moved down to the right where Peter Pan and Wendy have been meeting.
Yankee Trader to the right of Haunted Mansion is closed while it’s converted over to a dedicated Haunted Mansion store – a process that should take at least another 4.5 months. Haunted Mansion is expected to close for a short refurbishment from December 1st to 19th, probably to install on-ride photography equipment.