“Aloha, ahoy, aha! And welcome to the mystery, romance, and adventure of Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar.”
These are the words that lure you into Trader Sam’s story when you first look at a menu in this brand new Tiki bar in the Disneyland Hotel! In fact, a good friend of mine has referred to it as “the best of the Jungle Cruise, Adventurers Club, and Tiki Room rolled into a liquor license.” I heartily agree.
Let’s take a trip to the “happy outpost,” shall we?
I had been watching the creation of Trader Sam’s with great interest during the Spring and early Summer of 2011.
All I’d heard is that this destined-to-be-great spot might incorporate some of the decor of the old Pleasure Island Adventurers Club in Disney World, one of my very favorite places. And with the brilliant artistry of Kevin Kidney and Jody Daly behind it, it had to be good.
The line to get in can be long — the bar opens in the early afternoon and there can even be a wait then, but it’s well worth it once you’re in side. (Don’t forget to SHUT THE DOOR!!! when you come in!)
With literally hundreds of things to look at all over the walls (souvenirs from Trader Sam’s adventures, of course) — many of them equipped with sight and word gags, or even special effects — this place definitely fits into the true, classic Disney imagineering style.
This will remind those of us who grew up with Disney’s early theme parks where there seemed to be surprises hidden around every corner.
Now, once you’ve had the chance to take in a bit of the decor (and have waited for a table to open up), you may start to notice a few of the other effects taking place around you.
For example, if you’re at the bar, be sure that you don’t annoy the Bartender or you may slowly find yourself feeling a bit low…
And beware angering the tiki gods — you never know when Krakatoa might erupt!
Ron, one of the wonderful bartenders at Trader Sam’s, holds all of the secrets, so try to get on his good side!
Whew — now that we’ve taken a good look around…let’s get down to the real reason we’re here — to drink!
Eats and Drinks
The Trader Sam’s menu is a sight to see. Each drink is individually illustrated next to its description!
You’ll find many Disney and Jungle Cruise puns on the menu — Schweitzer Falls, Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum, Skipper Sipper, and the Shunken Zombie Head being a few. But they DON’T happen to tell you what might happen if you order one of these colorful beauties!
One of the best presentations — and a drink we couldn’t pass up — is the Uh Oa! This shared drink includes light and dark rums, orange, passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit juices, falernum, cinnamon, and freshlly squeezed lime juice. It comes to the table amidst a thunder storm of activity and is punctuated by its own floating island of fire! Things can definitely get a little sparkly…
Check out this fun video of John Lasseter experiencing the Uh Oa!
And here’s the drink in person!! That’s cinnamon in the little tikis around the main drink — when the uh oa arrives, grab a pinch of cinnamon and throw it on the fire to create sparks!
But that’s not the only drink that will cause a stir at Trader Sam’s! Order the Shipwreck On The Rocks and cross your fingers!! Make sure you ask your server what side of the bar to be on in order to see the effect in full force.
Another drink we ordered was an old favorite of mine — the Kungaloosh! This is a classic drink that was developed at the aforementioned Adventurers Club in Disney World’s Pleasure Island; and though it isn’t actually on the menu at Trader Sam’s, they’re happy to re-create it for you!
But what makes Trader Sam’s even MORE rad than it was to start is that even though the Kungaloosh! isn’t on the menu, they know that there are two recipes for the drink (old and new), and they ask you which one you’d like when you order it! Astounding. My Disney geekery is in full force.
There are some really fun “no-booze brews” on the menu at Trader Sam’s as well, and we couldn’t help but order the Schweitzer Falls (named after the beautiful Schweitzer Falls, which is named after it’s founder, Dr. Albert Falls, and seen on the Jungle Cruise attraction).
This concoction is made with tropical juices, Sprite, and “Sam’s Gorilla Grog,” which you can find heartily stored with the rest of the mixers at the bar.
(FYI — Grog is a mixture of passion fruit, guava, pineapple, orange, and lemon juices all mixed with falernum, which is a sweet/spicy syrup reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves, and other sweet spices.)
Interestingly, this drink was one of our favorites of the visit, so that Grog must have something going for it!
By this point we were needing a bit of sustenance, so out comes the Pu Pu Platter!! This had been highly recommend to me, and it’s obvious why. 1.) It’s gorgeous, 2.) It’s delicious, 3.) It has all kinds of wings, therefore it is awesome.
Included on the platter were Tamarind-glazed Island Pork ‘Wings,’ Sweet and Spicy Asian Wings, Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans, Green Papaya Slaw, and Sriracha Aioli. For $15.99 this is not a bad way to spend the afternoon. My favorite? The Asian Wings, of course.
The menu has several other yummy appetizers like chicken-lettuce wraps, fish tacos, Kalua Pork Flatbread, and the Trader Sam’s Dessert Flight. And I just heard that a few more items have been added, including a Panko-Crusted Chicken Sandwich, and an Angus Cheeseburger (thanks to the Trader Sam’s facebook page for that update)!
Like I said, this place is popular and there are definitely waits to get in. Luckily, there is plenty of seating outside along with the Tangaroa Terrace nearby for eats while you’re waiting for the big wooden doors to open and let you into the fun.
However, if all good things DO come to those who wait, this is definitely an example. Trader Sam’s is one of those quintessentially Disney experiences. You’re not just watching a show or drinking at a bar, you’re experiencing an incredibly fun and imaginative attraction the whole time you’re there. It’s very easy to lose track of time and stay at Trader Sam’s for hours. And, honestly, why wouldn’t you? Something you’ve never seen before is bound to happen — no matter how many times you’ve been there.
On the specs and details front — Trader Sam’s turns into an over-21 bar after 8pm, but your kids are welcome there before that deadline. We DID have a couple of kiddos with us when we visited Trader Sam’s, and while they weren’t mesmerized by the goings-on (they’d had a long day by that point), they did enjoy the eats. Your mileage may vary.
Have YOU been to Trader Sam’s? More importantly, do you WANT to go to Trader Sam’s? Let us know what your drink of choice would be from the menu!