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…]

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…]

FIRST LOOK! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort

AHOY!!!! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is now in soft openings at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort!!!

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s door sign

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…

Trader Sam's door

Trader Sam’s 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.”

Pager for Trader Sam's

Pager for Trader Sam’s

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.

Trader Sam's door

Trader Sam’s door

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.

Trader Sam from Disney World's Jungle Cruise

Trader Sam from Disney World’s Jungle Cruise

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.

Pager for Trader Sam's

Pager for Trader Sam’s

We headed to the new patio [Editor’s note: Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace], which has the same menu as inside, and ordered [Read more…]

Coming Soon! Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

UPDATE: News today from Disney states that Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto should be opening officially in late April. 

As Disney fans and DFB readers know well by now, plenty of changes have come to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort over the past several months of major resort-wide refurbishment.

New Tiki Statue in Lobby

New Tiki Statue in Lobby

For Disney food fans, perhaps none of the openings have met with as much anticipation as the eagerly awaited Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto! All sorts of signs (some of them literal!) are pointing to its imminent opening!

Updated Dining Sign with Trader Sam's

Updated Dining Sign with Trader Sam’s

Updated Dining Location Direction Sign with Trader Sam's

Updated Dining Location Direction Sign with Trader Sam’s

Of course, no sign is more telling than the one on the door to the Grotto itself…

Trader Sam's door sign

Trader Sam’s door sign

Other signs are less obvious, but bring to mind the nautical theme that we’ve been told to expect for the east coast version of Trader Sam’s, influenced by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Guests can now see the painting below and oars lining the hallway that starts at Captain Cook’s on the ground floor of the Great Ceremonial House and leads to Trader Sam’s.

Submarine Grotto Painting

Submarine Grotto Painting

Oars lining the wall

Oars lining the wall

Oar on the wall

Oar on the wall

So, what else do we know? So far, at least five adult beverages will be unique to the Disney World location, including the Castaway Crush, Polynesian Pearl, Tahitian Torch, and the Dark & Tropical Stormy. As is the case at its [Read more…]

Spotted: Hawaiian Host Macadamia Treats at Polynesian Village Resort’s Boutiki

Did you know you can take a real taste of the Hawaiian islands home with you from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort?

Boutiki

Boutiki

Boutiki

Boutiki

Now, you may already be familiar with some of the ways you can grab a macadamia treat while at the resort… say, the Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cupcake occasionally spotted at Captain Cook’s, or Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe.

Chocolate Macadamia Cupcake from Captain Cook's

Chocolate Macadamia Cupcake from Captain Cook’s

Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe

Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes from Kona Cafe

But I was walking by Boutiki recently — the main merchandise location at the Polynesian — and couldn’t help but notice this window display packed to the brim with “Hawaiian Host” items, prepackaged and ready for travel.

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Boutiki window display

Stepping inside I found the Hawaiian Host display, which features an assortment of chocolate treats — all starring Macadamia nuts. The selection at Boutiki includes [Read more…]

The Year in Review: Top 10 Disney Food News Items of 2014!

We are standing on the cusp of a brand New Year, and we can’t wait to see what 2015 holds in store for us — and Disney!

Top10DisneyFoodNewsStories

But we can’t wave goodbye to the old year without looking back on some of the biggest food news that happened throughout Disney Parks.

Most of this year’s big news happened at Walt Disney World, but we have a few memorable moments to share with you from Disneyland as well as other Disney Parks around the globe.

Today, we bring you a look back at 2014’s Biggest Disney Food News Stories! We have a LOT to cover — let’s get started!

First up, a little something I like to call…

The Beginning of Finally Doing Something with Pleasure Island

It’s the story we feel like we’ve been watching for years — what’s happening at Downtown Disney Orlando’s now defunct Pleasure Island??

Well, 2014 finally saw some solid progress, and the Disney Springs story seems to be coming to life.

An Artist's Rendering of Disney Springs

An Artist’s Rendering of Disney Springs

Lots of changes have made a trip to Downtown Disney a challenge in the last couple of years. But as the year draws to a close, the parking garages are open, and we are seeing some of the plans take shape!

2014 kicked off with a surprise restaurant opening of sorts — the House of Blues added a new counter service offering, The Smokehouse. We say surprise because we told you about the restaurant for the first time just days before the walls came down and the doors opened for business!

The Smokehouse at The House of Blues

The Smokehouse at The House of Blues

The Smokehouse is strictly a walk-up window venue. But the covered outdoor seating is pleasant, and you can often take in live music as you enjoy barbecue favorites, like their Beef Brisket Sandwich, St. Louis Ribs, or Smoked Turkey Legs.

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw from The Smokehouse

But it wasn’t all good news for Downtown Disney this year. Guests at T-Rex Cafe last Spring were in for some decidedly unpleasant dinner excitement, as one of the restaurant’s humongous fish tanks sprang a leak during dinner service!

However, no one was injured and all of the fish were reportedly rescued. We’re glad that all turned out happily in the situation, but we’ll never look at those huge fish tanks quite the same way again!

Also in the Spring, we said hello to a spot that’s quickly become one of our most favorite spots to shop in all of Walt Disney World — the Marketplace Co-op!

Disney Centerpiece

Disney Centerpiece

We have found some totally awesome stuff in the store’s Disney Centerpiece Section, including dishes, glasses, and other tableware that celebrate all of our Disney cult favorites. Whether you’re a Dole Whip fan or love memorabilia celebrating Tomorrowland, chances are you’ll find something that you’ve just gotta have!

Orange Bird Section

Orange Bird Section

Starbucks also continued to [Read more…]

Review: Hawaiian Shaved Ice at Kona Island in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Even if you’ve paid a visit to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, you may not be familiar with Kona Island.

This pleasant little stop upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House sits directly next to a much larger restaurant: Kona Cafe. So it can be pretty easy to pass by — unless you are in the know of its reputation for being one of the places on property where you can enjoy some sushi, or even a press pot of Kona Coffee, brewed to order.

Kona Island was closed for a while in the late summer to accommodate some of the construction going on at the Polynesian (among those changes, the eagerly-anticipated addition of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto to the resort).

Kona Island sign

Kona Island sign

But it reopened by the end of September, and more recently I finally had a chance to stop by and sample something I’d been curious about.

Kona Island

Kona Island

Kona Island

Kona Island

Hawaiian Shaved Ice is now part of the offerings. You can get all one flavor (“Kumau”) for $3.99, or a combo of two flavors (“Haukalima”) for $4.99.

Koan Island Hawaiian Shaved ice sign

Koan Island Hawaiian Shaved ice sign

While flavors may vary due to available syrups, I was able to choose from eight on the day of my visit: orange, passion mango, cherry, coconut, blue raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, and pina colada. I could’ve happily tried all eight flavors (and many thanks to the extremely patient Cast Member who waited while I took a crazy long time to decide!). But I ultimately chose a combo of pina colada and cherry.

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, cherry and pina colada

Hawaiian Shaved Ice, cherry and pina colada

The swirl of white (you can see it much better on the red cherry side) is [Read more…]