AHOY!!!! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is now in soft openings at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort!!!
And we are SO excited to share pictures from some of our awesome DFB Readers who were there to ring in the occasion!
Many thanks to Lori Hope Fries, DFB Reader and co-founder of TheMainStreetMoms.com, for sending in some awesome pics for us to share with you, along with her review! We’re also suuuuuper grateful to our friend David Shearer for sharing his incredible photos as well! We’ll be using the collection of both of their pictures along with a few of ours to tell the story of the very first days of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
But before we go in… what is a “soft opening,” exactly? Basically, a soft open means that guests may find Trader Sam’s in operation during a visit to the Polynesian from now until it’s official opening (expected for late April), BUT it can be closed at any given time to continue any necessary work. So, fair warning.
Okay, enough with the logistics! The anticipation is killing me!! Let’s step behind the door…
Umm, actually, let’s head inside the Grotto after we wait in line. Just getting in on the first day was no easy task!
Take, for instance, this anecdote from our good friend, Mealtrip: “The system is, you get a pager, then they call you in. So there was a 3 hour wait to get a pager and then another 3 hour wait once you had the pager. There is no “pager waiting line”, and you can’t just wait in the hallway for a pager.”
And so, a head’s up: for at least the first months of operation, we can all expect longs lines to be rule, not the exception. Anyone who’s had experience with Trader Sam’s in Disneyland will be fully aware of this gigantic problem. Okay, with that out of the way, NOW let’s step inside and see what treasures await!
Take it away, Lori!
“We have been on watch for months, waiting for Trader Sam to land at the Polynesian Village Resort. Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Room, at the Disneyland Resort, is a favorite stop when we go, and have been there many times. My middle son, Dennis, is an avid tiki mug collector, so we watched as the lobby walls came down around the fountain and a cast member showed us the door leading to Trader Sam’s new location. We watched and waited.
When you go on the Jungle Cruise in each Adventureland, Trader Sam, the head salesman of the jungle, will greet you. From coast to coast, these two men share a name and a job (and some jokes), but each coast has their own Sam. We were excited to see how the tiki bars of the same name differed.
We were in the Magic Kingdom when we learned that Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto was holding a soft opening. We hopped on a monorail and headed for the Polynesian Village Resort. The wait time was up to four hours to get in! Luckily, we got a pager from a friend who couldn’t stay, and combined the wait.
We headed to the new patio [Editor’s note: Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace], which has the same menu as inside, and ordered
dumplings and drinks while we waited.
I asked the food manager if the dumplings were the same as the ones at ‘Ohana, and they are not. These Pan-Fried Dumplings with Soy-Sesame Dipping Sauce have pork and shrimp in them.
I am allergic to fish and shellfish, but Dennis loved them. They were seared perfectly, with a wonderful combination of ingredients, both sweet and with a little kick.
He also ordered the HippopotaMai-Tai, a fruity rum drink served in a tiki glass that resembles the new statue in the lobby. For around $15, he got the delicious drink and was able to keep the glass as a souvenir, too.
I got one of Sam’s No-Booze Brews, the Polynesian Punch, served in a plastic souvenir sipper. You cannot order a non-alcoholic substitute if you want a specific souvenir mug; they do not want to confuse serving alcoholic drinks to minors.
(Editor’s Note: Another fun no-booze drink has been brought over from Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s — the Schweitzer Falls!)
We continued to enjoy live music by an entertainer from the Big Island of Hawaii, before it was time to go into the Grog Grotto.
Once inside, the real fun begins. The entire place is interactive. From the chairs to the walls, you know this bar was built for fun.
It is themed similarly to the Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel, with tiki statues, shrunken heads, and a volcanic view out the “windows”; but this one has a nautical twist. (Editor’s Note: This Trader Sam’s has themeing elements dedicated to the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride once found in Magic Kingdom.)
[Another editor’s note: where have you seen that life preserver before? I’ll give you a hint: “You are not the first to pass this way…” ]
An enormous tentacle curves its way through one side, and the middle bar table is even a surfboard.
With low-key mood lighting and just the right amount of neon glow, the Imagineers themed the Grog Grotto in good taste. This is not your average tiki bar kitsch.
When a special drink is ordered, the lights are cued and elements of the Grotto come to life.
Bar patrons join the cast members in celebration of tiki gods and tiki drinks. Disneyland guests will recognize familiar chants, “Uh-oh-ah! Uh-oh-ah! Uh-oh-ah Oh-ah Oh-ah!” Check out this video from Mousesteps.com to see what happens when you order it!
But with new drinks come new fun: beware the loose Hippopotami! “Two shots of rum!”
The cast members don’t just make the Grotto fun; they ensure your service is of the same high standards across Walt Disney World. I have food allergies so our server called the chef out to discuss my options. He also told me his favorites.
We ordered the Chicken Lettuce Cups with Hoisin Ginger Sauce and the Roasted Chicken and Pork Paté Bán Mì Sliders. We liked them both. You assemble the wraps yourself with pickled slaw and diced chicken in a thick sauce.
The sliders were good, but I am not sure I would order them again. I don’t love pork paté, and there was too much of the pickled relish for my taste.
The people who shared our table had the Headhunter Sushi Roll and Kahlua Pork Tacos with Cabbage and Pickled Vegetables.
They said both were delicious, but they didn’t think the taco was filling. Nonetheless, these are appetizers, not main course dishes, and are intended to complement the drinks.
New drinks and souvenirs include: the Polynesian Pearl, a milky and fruity cinnamon rum concoction (a local favorite) served in a pearl ‘Trader Sam’s” cup that’s yours to keep.
(Editor’s Note: When the Pearl is ordered, the shell behind the bar lights up and opens as the Bartenders grab the “vessel.” FYI — One out of every 100 comes out black! Check out this video from laughingplace.com to see what happens when you order it!
You’ll also find a Rum Flight in three mini tiki mugs; and even a giant ceramic Nautilus submarine filled with tropical juices and rum, big enough to share.
They don’t accept Tables in Wonderland or other discounts because it crosses food and merchandising; but prices are reasonable for Walt Disney World.
The bar inside only holds 51 guests, so expect long waits to get in while it is still new. I am looking forward to going back many times and collecting all of the different souvenirs.
Look out for additional Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto swag in Boutiki. There’s already a t-shirt, Hawaiian shirt, and pin; with new merchandise rolling out soon.”
Thanks, Lori!! Sounds like a terrific time at the Grotto!
We’d also love to share a few more of the fantastic pictures from David Shearer. He and his wife, Stephanie, enjoyed the Tahitian Torch (ByeJoe Dragon Fruit Spirit, Tropical Juices, Passion Fruit and fresh lime juice) and they also tried the Kalua Pork Tacos.
They, too, grabbed a HippopotoMai-Tai! Because who can resist that tiki face?
Our Facebook friend Casey N. kindly shared few prices with us (notice they’re not on the menu ;). The Spikey Pineapple (a Dole Whip with rum) is $10.25. The non-alcoholic Polynesian Punch in a souvenir cup is $9.49. The Polynesian Pearl (pictured in white from Lori above) runs around $16. The Shrunken Zombie Head, which comes in its own very special souvenir glass, rings up at just over $20.
And, hey, let’s take one more look at that Nautilus while we’re at it! At the time of this writing, it is currently NOT available to take home, but it will be once the official opening takes place in late April.
Once it is available, this completely awesome tribute to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can be yours for the low, low price of… 52 smackers! (Yep, you read that right!). It’s filled with Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Creme de Peche de Vigne Liqueur, tropical juices, and Falernum, and made to serve two. For the time being, you are able to order the drink and enjoy it in a Nautilus, only without taking it home.
Check out this video from Mousesteps.com to see what happens when you order it! (Oh, and is that Captain Nemo’s voice I hear…?)
And there you have it, folks! The first days at the Grotto are in the books, and just like Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar on the west coast, it appears we have another huge hit on our hands! We can’t wait to bring you more fun from Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto in days to come!
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