Capt. Cook’s at the Polynesian Village Resort just recently reopened after a lengthy refurbishment and several big changes were made. The most insignificant was the new decor of the seating area, which now features posters of the Polynesian islands some of the longhouses are named after (some of the longhouses are expected to be renamed). The menu change, dropping popular items like the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, was met with a lot of criticism, but the biggest difference between the old and new Capt. Cook’s is the removal of the self-serve Dole Whip machines. Disney Parks Blog reported after Capt. Cook’s reopened that Pineapple Lanai, a window in the courtyard, would be the new spot at the Polynesian Village Resort to satisfy Dole Whip cravings and it is now officially open and officially a letdown.
Let’s start with the obvious reason why Pineapple Lanai can’t live up to the self-serve machines inside Capt. Cook’s. Before, anyone could buy a cup from the cash register and fill it up with as little or as much Dole Whip as they desired. Pineapple Lanai is a quick-service window and Cast Members are in charge of serving up the delicious treat, meaning you get the serving size that Disney wants to sell, which is never enough. The price for a Dole Whip, without a souvenir cup, is $3.99, but the portion size appeared to be slightly less than what is being served for the same price at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom. The Pineapple Float is $4.99, which is the same price at Aloha Isle and the portion size seemed to be roughly the same. The good news is the souvenir bowls that were released a couple months ago in Disneyland have made their way here along with the sipper cup that has also been available at Aloha Isle for awhile.
Moving past the portion issues, the next big problem is the hours. Capt. Cook’s is open 24 hours a day, meaning you could satisfy your sweet tooth with a Dole Whip any time of the day. Pineapple Lanai hasn’t nailed down their operating hours, but right now Cast Members are saying the window will open somewhere between 12:00 and 1:00 PM and stay open until a half-hour after Magic Kingdom’s fireworks. I want to believe Disney did some kind of research to prove those hours were the peak times guests would purchase Dole Whips, but even if it’s true it isn’t as good as being able to have Dole Whips whenever you want. What was once a great perk to staying at the Polynesian is now just a memory.
Beyond those issues, the rest of the problems stem from the fact that the Polynesian Village Resort is still a construction site. The patio style seating is a great option for those who want to enjoy a Dole Whip right by the window, but the seating is cheap porch furniture that sticks out like a sore thumb. Also, there is no music loop currently playing in the area so you are forced to listen to obnoxious fans and vents from Capt. Cook’s. Hopefully the music is addressed soon, because piping in the Polynesian loop would change the feel of the area a great deal.
One thing worth noting – we heard a rumors about a lobby window for the Pineapple Lanai so those who are inside don’t have to go outside. Unless this is in the plan for what’s behind the wall blocking the old Wyland Gallery, then it’s not going to happen. Some have reported that a DVC kiosk will be occupying that space, which means there is little to no room for another Dole Whip window. Also, it would have to be a separate location, because the Pineapple Lanai window is about ten yards away from the lobby and is more of a closet space than a kiosk.
Pineapple Lanai may be the new home for Dole Whips, but it’s not the home that it deserves. Disney may be regulating the amount of soft-serve guests can have, but the experience of getting a Dole Whip at the Polynesian has changed in a bad way.