Disney Food Post Round-Up: August 9, 2015

After weeks of non-stop Disney Food News, all was a little quieter the first full week of August.

Celebrate the Season with Minnie Mouse!

Celebrate the Season with Minnie Mouse!

But there were a few exciting developments this week. Our biggest news? You’ll be able to enjoy a brand new Holiday Character Meal option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this season!

Let’s take a look at the details as well as other Disney Food News and Finds for the week below.

Disney Food News

[Read more…]

#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…]

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…]