GF in Disneyworld: Captain Cook's at the Polynesian Resort

As I've hinted in my previous posts, my family started out the new year in the most "magical place on Earth" - Disney World in Orlando, Florida. My family vacationed there about eight years ago, but that was before celiac disease jumped into the picture. Now, safely back in my CA home, I'm raring to share all of the gluten free finds that make Disney World truly magical for all celiacs! This is just the first of a eight-part series reviewing my Disney World gluten free discoveries, so be prepared for some mouth-watering Mickey Mouse meals!

I'll start with the first restaurant we ate at: Captain Cook's, located in the Polynesian Resort.

Our first stop...

I'd read that there were gluten free options at the Polynesian Resort (which is only a ten minute walk from the hotel where we stayed) and eating at a quick-service restaurant like Captain Cook's seemed like the best choice after a long day of travel. This was my family's first experience with eating gluten free at Disney World and butterflies fought against the grumbling of my stomach.

The employee we first talked to seemed clueless as to the existence of gluten, but another worker agreed to alert the manager. After waiting a few minutes, the manager appeared with a notepad, ready to personally take our order

Unsure as to our options, we started by asking what we could have. When she reached the fifth item, my jaw was on the floor. Gluten free chicken fingers and fries, chicken salads, chicken sandwiches and hamburgers were some of the many options. After we recovered, though, my mom and I both decided on the gluten free chicken stir fry. Instead of noodles, she would make it with rice, chicken and steamed veggies

The finished product!

When our order was ready, we were shocked at the size. It was HUGE and easily could have been shared. The sauce had a wonderfully sweet flavor without being overpowering and the chicken tasted juicy and fresh. My least favorite part was the rice to veggie ratio, as I received only a handful of veggies (including snow peas, carrots, celery and bell peppers). For a quick service, though, it wasn't a bad score. 

The next night, we returned to Captain Cook's for another quick - and safe - bite. Because we had a huge lunch at Sunshine Seasons, Mom and I opted for the altered chicken Caesar salad. This definitely wasn't my favorite meal. The chicken tasted fresh and juicy with great seasoning, but the salad mainly consisted of a bucket of lettuce, a few mixed greens, five cucumbers and a dusting of cheese. Great if you want a simple, healthy bite but don't go in with high expectations. 

Our salad (plus a side of fruit from our hotel)

Captain Cook's biggest strength is its amazing manager who is extremely knowledgeable about food allergies and competent. She prepared all of our food herself in a separate kitchen area and even gave us tips on eating safely at Disney when she picked up on our newness. The biggest tips? Always ask for the manager, and never accept food from anyone else. Because of the slightly lower food quality  in the context of DisneyWorld, however, I'd give Captain Cook's a solid 6.5-7/10.

Have you ever eaten gluten free at Disneyland or DisneyWorld? Any tips for eating safely at theme parks? Comment below!


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