#OnTheList: Tonga Toast at Captain Cook’s in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

This post is part of the DFB #OnTheList series, where we feature eats you’ve GOT to have while you’re at Disney! Let us know what’s on YOUR Disney Food Bucket List @DisneyFoodBlog #OnTheList!

Who’s ready for some TONGA TOAST?!

Really, is there a better way you can think of to start the day than with this Disney World breakfast staple? Of course, you can only find it at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, but fortunately it’s available in not one, but TWO, locations there: Kona Cafe and Captain Cook’s. (Oh, and just so we’re clear before moving any further, for those who have noticed Tonga Toast on the menu for breakfast at Rainforest Cafe, it’s totally not the same thing.)

Today we’ll be enjoying Captain Cook’s version (as well as discussing the differences from the way it’s served up at Kona Cafe). But no matter where you go to grab your Tonga Toast, you’re just one Monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom, making Tonga Toast a must-have breakfast tradition for many Disney World guests regardless of their chosen Resort.

Now, it’s no secret that a LOT of changes have taken place at the Polynesian Village Resort with its Extreme Resort Makevoer ;). Now that the dust has just about settled (in the Great Ceremonial House, anyway), let’s take a quick look around first!

Atmosphere

As mentioned, you can order Tonga Toast at two Polynesian Village Resort restaurants, and if you’re arriving via bus or car, you’ll need to make your way past the entrance into the Polynesian Village Resort lobby. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the entrance unsurrounded by refurbishment walls on one — if not two — sides, here’s what it (along with some general landscaping) looks like these days.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Entrance

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Entrance

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Scenery

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Scenery

We’ve visited the updated lobby previously, but here’s another few glances at the new look. [Read more…]

News: Disney World Testing Free Taxi Service to Signature Restaurants

Disney is currently testing a new transportation method — complimentary direct taxi service — for guests dining at select signature restaurants while staying at Walt Disney World monorail resorts!

Monorail Orange at Disney's Contemporary Resort

Monorail Orange at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Until June 30, 2015, some guests at the monorail resorts (Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and Contemporary) will be selected to participate in this Disney dining test. Those invited to participate will receive complimentary round-trip vouchers delivered to their room.

Participants will have the option of enjoying direct taxi transportation to [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: May 20th, 2015

Sure, we may have said “So long” to the Flower and Garden Festival for this year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to look forward to at Walt Disney World! Springs moves to summer as Disney World gears up for the busy vacation season, otherwise known as the “Coolest Summer Ever”!

©Disney

©Disney

And since it’s a very special time of year for Star Wars fans in particular, why don’t we start our ‘round the World tour at Hollywood Studios to see What’s New!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Star Wars Weekends kicked off on May 15th!

Star Wars Weekends 2015

Star Wars Weekends 2015

The excitement! The pageantry!  The CUPCAKES! The Jabba the Hutt Cupcake has joined the Darth Vader and Yoda Cupcakes this year.

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

Jabba the Hutt Cupcake

It can be found at counter service locations such as Starring Rolls, Backlot Express, The Trolley Car Cafe, and Tusken Fridge Raiders — the premiere Star Wars snack stop, located inside Darth’s Mall.

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

Tusken Fridge Raiders

But cupcakes aren’t all that’s in store…

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars snacks for Star Wars Weekends

Like last year, several temporary pop-up bars can be found all over the park for the weekend events.

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

Star Wars Weekends Pop-up Bar

However, they feature all-new drinks this year. Each bar serves two out of of four drinks: The Mustafar and The Tatooine, or The Endor and The Alderaan.

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

Star Wars Weekends Specialty Drinks

We’ll be taking a closer look at those beverages soon, but once again this year, it’s ALL about the souvenir glow cubes: drinks come with either a Millennium Falcon glow cube or your very own mini Death Star.

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

Millennium Falcon Glow Cube

The Jedi Mickey Character Dinner at Hollywood and Vine and Star Wars Galactic Dine-In Breakfast returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month (on May the Fourth Be With You, naturally). But brand new to Star Wars Weekends this year is the Rebel Hangar — A Star Wars Lounge Experience, which has effectively converted half of Backlot Express into an abandoned spaceport in the Sullest system.

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Entrance to Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Chips and Sith at Rebel Hangar

Blue Milk!

Blue Milk!

You can read all about this special month-long dining event featuring small plates and specialty cocktails in our full review of the Rebel Hangar!

Believe it or not, though, it’s not all Star Wars at Hollywood Studios… we’ve got some regular ol’ menu changes at some favorite Table Service restaurants to report as well. Sci-Fi Dine-In has added the Sci-Fi Popcorn Treat to the appetizer selection. It’s popcorn soup (for watching those old movies, of course!) with buffalo popcorn chicken and celery sticks, drizzled with blue cheese dressing.

Sci-Fi Dine-In

Sci-Fi Dine-In

New entrees include Grilled Marinated Salmon, while the Veggie Burger got a [Read more…]

Friday Happy Hour: Lava Flow at the Barefoot Pool Bar at Polynesian Village Resort

Well, wouldn’t you know it?

Right after I visited the Polynesian Village Resort’s Barefoot Pool Bar when it reopened along with the refurbished Lava Pool and I reported that the specialty drink menu hadn’t changed…

It changed.

Well, that’s not entirely true :). Everything you could previously purchase at the Barefoot Pool Bar is still available (that means the pool bar standards like the Captain’s Mai Tai and Banana Cabana). In fact, they’re all still prominently listed on the main menu.

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

But, lo and behold…. just days after my visit, I heard about some all-new (and if I understand correctly, mostly exclusive) drinks at the Barefoot Pool Bar!

You can spot the descriptions on a stand-up sign, and fans of the Polynesian will get a kick out of reading the well-themed drink names as much as the descriptions with titles like the Pago Pago Pain Killer, Niue Rita, Lava Flow, Tonga Tea, and Samoa Sunrise. Just click on the image below to enlarge and read the item descriptions. I love that the Samoa Sunrise features POG Juice!

Specialty Drink Menu

Specialty Drink Menu

I didn’t see this menu at all on my previous visit, but whether that’s because they were not being served yet since the pool bar had just reopened or I’d missed the roving sign, I’m honestly not sure.

Ah, well… it’s here now, and so are we! So, let’s have a drink, shall we? We’ll go with [Read more…]

News! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Souvenir Glasses Now Available

If you’ve been itching to get your hands on your very own Nautilus to take home, the time has arrived.

That’s because Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are now officially OPEN!

Now, for all intents and purposes, both the Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace have pretty much been in operation since March 28th, when the soft opening began, complete with wacky antics by the bartenders and skippers, erupting indoor volcanos, and a fully angered goddess of disaster.

(And if you’re wondering what kind of code that is, be sure to check out our full review of these spots to learn all about the interactive experience that is an evening at Trader Sam’s!)

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Trader Sam's Tiki Terrace

Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace

However, during the soft open stage, most of the souvenir glasses were not yet available to take home. While that may not sound like a big deal, their arrival is greatly welcome. Though not all the specialty cocktails are served in souvenir glasses, certain beverages correspond to their own specific take-home glass. And it was already anticipated that these very collectible souvenirs would be in high demand, based on the popularity of the souvenir glasses at Trader Sam’s original establishment, the Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland.

After all, who wouldn’t want their very own Shrunken Zombie Head, courtesy of everyone’s favorite Head Salesman?

Shrunken Zombie Head glass ©Disney

Shrunken Zombie Head glass ©Disney

The HippopotoMai-Tai glass (resembling the tiki statue in the Polynesian’s Great Ceremonial House) already has more [Read more…]

Great New Drinks to Enjoy at Disney World

Top Five New Drinks to Try at Walt Disney WorldWell, I guess it’s time… Florida sure had a beautiful “winter,” but as much as I’ve tried to deny it over the past few weeks, we’re back to the time of year when it’s not unusual to see the thermometer (otherwise known as my weather app) climb back up into the 90s.

One good thing about all that? It’s the perfect excuse to cool down with some cold beverages! And since we’re looking at hanging out in the heat until… oh, until the end of the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival in, like, November, now is as good a time as any to check out some highly recommended sips!

So today we’re stopping at two Disney World Parks, one Resort, and Downtown Disney to check out some of the latest and greatest concoctions. We’re focusing primarily on some killer cocktails, but we’ll end with a little something for kids (and kids at heart!), too!

So grab a straw and a teeny-tiny umbrella, because we’re starting with a new vacation must-have…

Spikey Pineapple

We’ve just gotta dive in with this new gem at Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort: the Spikey Pineapple.

Spikey Pineapple

Spikey Pineapple

While most of the drink menu at the Tiki Terrace is the same as that inside Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, you can ONLY enjoy the Spikey Pineapple outside on the Tiki Terrace… and it is well worth a special visit.

Why? Because this is Pineapple Soft-Serve (Dole Whip!) served in a sippable form and spiked with Barbancourt Pango Rhum.

Spikey Pineapple menu description

Spikey Pineapple menu description

If you’re a fan of Dole Whip (and especially the rum-spiked Pineapple Soft-serve at the Epcot Food & Wine and Flower and Garden Festivals and in Animal Kingdom), or just fantastic tropical vacation drinks in general, this one is a must-try!

Tamarind Margarita

What’s a post about drinks in Disney World without mentioning one of the greatest watering holes this side of the Mississippi (and, OK, the other side, too)? Over in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, La Cava del Tequila sets the standard for incredible and creative margaritas served alongside high-end tequilas.

La Cava del Tequila Sign

La Cava del Tequila Sign

And while the debut last fall of the Maelstrom Margarita (created in tribute to the now-extinct Maelstrom attraction formerly housed in Mexico’s neighboring Norway Pavilion) receives a lot of well-deserved buzz, it’s the Tamarind Margarita, which debuted last summer, that really knocked our socks off in a recent visit: Ambhar Blanco Tequila, tamarind pulp, orange liquor and agave nectar with a chili powder rim.

Tamarind Margarita

Tamarind Margarita

The tamarind and agave make this one incredibly sweet — without being too sweet (I hate too sweet), thanks to the tamarind tang, and the chili powder rim provides some kick. This one well earns its place beside the beloved Avocado Margarita. And Horchata Margarita. Oh, and the Wild Passion Fruit;)

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Inside at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, though, we’re loving the Dark & Tropical Stormy: Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, fresh lime juice, Ginger Beer, and Falernum.

Dark & Tropical Stormy on the Trader Sam's menu

Dark & Tropical Stormy on the Trader Sam’s menu

It’s the unique and bold taste of the ginger beer that makes this one stand out, giving it a sweet spice while the layered pour allows the rum to have its own moment as well.

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Dark & Tropical Stormy

Another fun feature with many drinks inside the Grotto are toppers themed to the beverage. The Dark & Tropical Stormy’s is understandably windblown ;)

Dark & Tropical Stormy umbrella

Dark & Tropical Stormy umbrella

Batten down the hatches and grab one!

Raspy Old Fashioned

We’re taking a trip over to Downtown Disney for our next one and stopping at Raglan Road.

Raglan Road

Raglan Road

Understandably, lots of folks stepping into Raglan Road fancy a pint, and the [Read more…]

Photo Tour: Reopened Barefoot Pool Bar and Volcano Pool at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Okay, so we all know the news surrounding bars and lounges at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has revolved almost solely around two places recently: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace.

But one place we haven’t discussed much at all recently is the Barefoot Pool Bar… primarily because it hasn’t been open. You see, with the major refurbishment of the Polynesian’s Volcano Pool came the closure of its accompanying pool bar.

But early this month the pool opened up again — much to the happiness of many a Poly guest! And the Barefoot Pool Bar has reopened right along with it.

Not much has changed at the Barefoot Pool Bar itself, still finding its home at the side of the volcano, though the sign is new.

Barefoot Pool Bar at the main Polynesian pool

Barefoot Pool Bar at the main Polynesian pool

Barefoot Pool Bar sign

Barefoot Pool Bar sign

But the general feel is somewhat different, and I think that’s due more to the bar’s changed surroundings more than the lounge itself. For instance, the fence around the pool, which ends at the Barefoot, does change the vibe (though all are still welcome to have a drink at the bar — only Resort guests are permitted swim in the pool, as per usual).

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

Barefoot Pool Bar

The familiar Disney pool bar drinks still grace the menu (and the full bar is also available).

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Barefoot Pool Bar menu

Specialty drinks closeup

Specialty drinks closeup

Menu closeup

Menu closeup

Info on menu board

Info on menu board

A little reminder is posted regarding operating hours.

Operating Hours for Barefoot Pool Bar

Operating Hours for Barefoot Pool Bar

Alas, I didn’t have time to sip, since I was preparing to get in line for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. But I did take a few moments to do a little exploring in the surrounding areas. Now that the pool is open again and the majority of construction walls are down in the main area surrounding the Great Ceremonial House, we can all at last get a feel for what the renovated Polynesian Village Resort is like.

Map of the Polynesian Village Resort

Map of the Polynesian Village Resort

So while we’re here, let’s take a walk, shall we? Here’s another look at the pool.

Lava Pool

Lava Pool

One very welcome addition is that of the new [Read more…]

Review: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace at Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort

CHEERS! COWABUNGA! TULLEEHO! KUNGALOOSH!

It’s already time to go back inside (and outside!) Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort!

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

While both the Grotto and Terrace continue in soft openings with an official opening anticipated for late April (when all the sought-after souvenir glasses will be available for guests to take home), these new hot spots remain the talk of the town.

On March 28th, when both the Grog Grotto and the Tiki Terrace soft opened for the first day, tales of lines up to 6 hours long were nearly as much of a story as the bars opening themselves. So a common question now is, “What are the wait times like?”

How long until you can get past Trader Sam's door?

How long until you can get past Trader Sam’s door?

Grog Grotto Hours of Operation

Grog Grotto Hours of Operation

Unsure of what to expect, my husband and I arrived at the Polynesian at 2 pm on a weekday for the 4 pm opening, and no line had started yet (though the bar is open until midnight, after 8 pm only guests 21 and older are permitted).

At 3 pm, we decided we’d better stake out our spot, so we went to the inside door of the Grog Grotto, where two Cast Members were waiting. We were told we were the first for the day, and could start the line outside at the metal bench pictured below.

The line starts here

The line starts here

The next guest arrived at 3:15, and a line in earnest began to form at 3:30 pm. Around 3:50, a Cast Member came outside and gave us all a stamp to show at the door as our proof that we’d been counted in the line. At this time, I counted around 40 people waiting, and when we were let in at 4:00 pm, everyone made it inside to fill up the 51 person capacity. Huzzah!

Outdoor entrance into the Trader Sam's hallway

Outdoor entrance into the Trader Sam’s hallway

Now, I’m not claiming this will be the case everyday. We clearly arrived early anticipating a wait and were shocked that there wasn’t one, especially during what’s considered a peak time (still in the Spring Break window). Now, I had a friend in town Saturday of the same week. She arrived at Trader Sam’s at 7:30 pm and was given a pager for a 90 minute wait, and folks arriving a while after were looking at a couple hours at least.

Pager for Trader Sam's

Pager for Trader Sam’s

That’s not altogether surprising, though, since I think we can all anticipate longer lines on weekends for what is sure to be a popular destination for locals as well as vacationers for a long time to come.

Okay, logistics, schmogistics! WE’RE IN! It’s time to see a little more of what Trader Sam has in store for his guests…

TRADER SAM’S GROG GROTTO

Atmosphere

You’ve now entered Trader Sam’s “happy hideaway.” The story of the Grotto is told to us by Skip, Manager of the Jungle Cruise Navigational Company (just click the image below to enlarge). As head salesman of the jungle that we all know and love from the Jungle Cruise, Trader Sam discovered a passion for mixology as an extension of his professional interest in head-shrinking potions. As he traveled the globe for ingredients, he picked up many a souvenir and brought them back to the Grotto.

The story of Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

The story of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Entering the Grotto for the first time was — for me, at least — overwhelming in the best way possible. While you want to grab a table or a seat at the bar (and lemme tell ya, it’s best to move quickly to get one), it’s difficult to not want to try to take in every bit of the INSANE amount of details and decoration right away. This room is simply the stuff of dreams for fans of Disney detail and history.

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Before we take in a few of those gems, the basic setup is small and…well, I don’t know if “cozy” is the word. It’s snug, for sure, but somehow not in a bad way. The way everyone is close together, it seems to encourage a party atmosphere and festive mood.

Oh, my… where to start? Well, I’ll take a cue from a Jungle Cruise Skipper and point out a few of my favorite details! There’s this one.

Postcard

Postcard

And this one.

Family Tree East Coast Branch

Family Tree East Coast Branch

I like this one.

Picture of Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Ooookay, so CLEARLY that joke doesn’t play out in writing the same way it does on the Jungle Cruise when your Skipper deadpans pointing out his or her favorite plants ;) . Still, you get the point. There is just a TON of [Read more…]

Spotted: Macadamia Pastries at Polynesian Village Resort’s Kona Island

It’s gettin’ to be big times again at the ol’ Poly, my friends…

With the recent addition of the Poly Tiki statue greeting guests above the water structure in the still-relatively-new lobby, and the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (not to mention the recently open Bora Bora Bungalows), what has been a previously unprecedented level of renovation for a Disney Resort is — at long last — shaping up rather nicely, indeed.

Amidst all these huge changes, it can be hard to remember there are plenty of other small things to find and appreciate! Take, for instance, these macadamia pastries I spotted at Kona Island. I loved that even this small dining location was themed appropriately — to the islands!

Kona Island

Kona Island

Kona Island Bakery Case

Kona Island Bakery Case

Just look at the generous amount of Macadamia Nuts covering these Sticky Buns!

Sticky Bun with Macadamia Nuts

Sticky Bun with Macadamia Nuts

You can also spot them in the center of [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Off-The-Radar Disney World Bars and Lounges

Walt Disney World is supa fun, but it’s also go-go-go-go. Sometimes ya just gotta relax.

dfb2015_guide_3d

Of course, there’re all kinds of ways to accomplish that. But after a long, hard day of Disney touring, I love to head to one of my favorite Disney Bars and Lounges.

“Bar” might not be the first word you think of when you picture Mickey Ears and Pixie Dust. But actually, these are some of my favorite spots on property for a number of reasons.

And I know you agree, because when I first published the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, a comprehensive Index of Disney World’s Bars and Lounges was one of our readers’ top requests.

Well — we heard you! And I’m happy to let you know that the DFB Guide includes reviews of every Bar and Lounge in Walt Disney World!

Let’s dive into the Index and take a closer look at a few. You know my favorites, like Territory Lounge and the Dawa Bar. But today, I want to take you on a tour of a few places you may not have discovered yet.

And if you find this information helpful, then be sure to pick up your copy of the Guide today for $4 off using code “2015” right here!

Ready to grab a drink?

A Niche Menu and Free Beer: The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

The Wave…of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary resort is a great place to take in a relaxing breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Seldom crowded, the restaurant, located in the quiet back corner of the hotel’s lobby offers a market-inspired menu at a much lower price point than you’ll find at Disney’s suite of signature restaurants. You’ll also find some delicious breakfast options.

But in addition to interesting eats, you’ll also find a pretty cool bar and lounge area.

The Bar at Disney's The Wave Restaurant

The Bar at Disney’s The Wave Restaurant

While the food menu is market-driven, the drink menu features some specialties, too. The Wave’s wine list features New World Wines, primarily from the Southern Hemisphere. And nearly all of the wines featured have one thing in common — screwcaps! Sealing wines with screwcaps is a way to battle cork taint, an unfortunate chemical reaction that can ruin a good bottle of wine. So don’t be put off by screwcaps the next time you see one; many quality New World wines, especially those from New Zealand and Australia, are sealed this way.

Wines at the Wave

Wines at the Wave

Do your tastes run to beer rather than wine? The Wave also features a nice selection of Organic Beers. In fact, if you’re a guest staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Towers, you can enjoy a Complimentary Organic Beer Tasting on Saturdays from 3-4PM. (Remember, this is JUST if you’re staying at the resort.)

Beer Flight at The Wave

Beer Flight at The Wave

Just stopping in for a drink? Try the Beer Flight. The presentation is pretty impressive.

A Bar That Switches Things Up: Kona Island Coffee/Sushi Bar

Another favorite stop of mine certainly lives up to the name “bar” — but for completely different reasons. In this case, we’re (mostly) trading cocktails for java and some interesting eats.

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

New Tiki Statue in Lobby at the Polynesian!

The Polynesian Village Resort has just undergone a major facelift. We’ve welcomed new spots, like the Pineapple Lanai (the resort’s purveyor of Dole Whips these days) as well as the crazy popular Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (waiting times have been up to 6 hours during its soft opening!)

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s Door Sign

But with all of the changes, the resort has maintained most of its beloved eateries, including [Read more…]