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…]

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…]

More Details of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Revealed at…Disneyland!?

We have some fun new updates for you today of what’s soon to be at Walt Disney World — but they’re coming to us from Disneyland!

Intrepid Dining in Disneyland columnist Heather Sievers attended the fun Mahaloween Luau event earlier this year at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in the Disneyland Hotel. While there, she grabbed a sneak peek of what we can expect at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. We also gleaned a few more details from The Atomic Grog!

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto Concept Art

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Concept Art — Coming Soon to Walt Disney World!

While details have been kept mostly under wraps since we were given our first glimpse of concept art last Spring, the presentation by Imagineers Brandon Kleyla and Kyle Barnes at the Mahaloween Luau served to add a few more pieces to the puzzle.

I'll Have Whatever She's Making, Please!

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Although we know that Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto will be similar to the wildly popular Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland Hotel, we’re also starting to get an idea of how they’ll differ. And the key is right here in some of the photos we are sharing with you today.

Trader Sam's Tiki in Orlando

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

The most interesting thing to come out of the presentation is the subtle difference in themeing between the two different Trader Sam’s locations. While the Disneyland Trader Sam’s has a style more reflective of Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride — think African Queen — Imagineers have something entirely different in mind for the Grog Grotto.

At the Polynesian, Trader Sam’s will celebrate more of the nautical aspect of the intrepid head salesman’s adventures. Look for the primary themeing cues to come courtesy of the [Read more…]

Best Table Service Restaurants in the Disneyland Resort

We’re counting down some of our all-time favorite spots to dine when we visit Disneyland!

Best Disneyland Table Service Restaurants

And while snacking abounds and counter service can be delicious, today we are turning our attention to our favorite table service spots.

While Disney’s original park may not offer the same number of dining locations as Walt Disney World, there are certainly some places that you won’t want to miss. And we love them for all different reasons. Some are sentimental favorites, while others offer fantastic food.

Head out with us as we tour our Top 6 Table Service Spots in Disneyland Resort!

Steakhouse 55

Our first stop takes us to a spot steeped in Disneyland history — Steakhouse 55 at Disneyland Hotel.

Dark, cool interiors are replete with luxury and plenty of nods to the past. Named for the year that Disneyland opened, of course, Steakhouse 55 channels a bygone era with the glamour of Old Hollywood. Close your eyes, and you can easily imagine power lunches by the entertainment elite taking place at the next table.

Inside the Cool and Serene Steakhouse 55

Inside the Cool and Serene Steakhouse 55

There’s more here than just posh surroundings, however. The food is incredible, too. For dinner, expertly prepared Steaks and classic steakhouse Sides are the draw. And don’t forget the famous 24-layer Chocolate Cake!

No time for an epic meal, but still want to experience this awesome place? Stop in for Drinks and delicious Pub Grub in the Lounge.

Bone-In Ribeye Steakhouse 55

Bone-In Ribeye Steakhouse 55

But don’t forget breakfast! If you’re after a quiet start to your morning, you can’t go wrong with specialities like Eggs Benedict or New York Steak and Eggs.

Napa Rose

When I’m up for a culinary experience with a modern, California vibe, I head to Napa Rose at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

The Craftsman style and open floor plan gives the restaurant a warm, welcoming feel. It never feels too intimidating or hoity-toity, even though you are dining in one of Southern California’s most celebrated eateries.

Begin your evening in [Read more…]

Must-Try Eats at Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Disneyland’s unique and incredible Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar possibly replicating itself in Disney World’s upcoming Disney Springs (which I think would be totally rad).

Trader Sam's Tiki Bar

And since many Trader Sam’s reviews put a huge focus on drinks — understandably (you can see tons of Trader Sam’s drinks here!) — I thought it would be fun this time to take a quick look at two of my favorite FOOD items at the Disneyland hot spot.

Atmosphere

Trader Sam’s is small, but packed with action. Intriguing decor reveals sight gags and hidden secrets everywhere!

Trader Sam's Magical Bar Stools may have you feeling a bit low...

Scour the walls for correspondence from the Jungle Cruise’s own Trader Sam, and check out unique items he’s brought back from his travels.

Trader Sam's Welcome Message - click image for larger version

Don’t forget to read the postcards!

Close-Up of Trader Sam's Decor

Once you finally get a table and get settled in (this can take a while if you’re there on a busy evening…we suggest going for lunch), it’s time to take a peek at the menu and get started!

Trader Sam's Menu Example

Ready to dive in?!

Trader Sam’s Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans

The Chinese Long Beans have become a serious guest favorite at Trader Sam’s! You can get them as part of the PuPu Platter, or grab a whole plate of them!

Panko Crusted Chinese Long Beans with Sriracha Dipping Aioli

These are as addictive as french fries, but [Read more…]

Disney Springs Rumor! New Restaurants Planned for Disney World’s Downtown Disney

You’ve probably heard the rumors brewing, but this is the first time that we’ve heard details about changes that may be planned for Downtown Disney Orlando!! Please note that all of this is subject to change (and probably WILL!).

Disney World's Downtown Disney

What’s the Latest?

Along with a new name (Disney Springs), parking garage (thank goodness!), and the re-imagining of Planet Hollywood, new restaurants and shops are now being named in these rumors!

A new “district,” which is being called the Town Center, may part of the proposed plan. Pleasure Island could be known as The Landing, and the Marketplace may return to its roots — The Village Marketplace. Only the West Side area would retain its current label in this structure.

Part of the remodel could bring a two-story entertainment area similar to City Walk at Universal Studios.

Possible New Restaurants?

This photo from Save Pleasure Island showcases a few possible options.

Possible Restaurants for Downtown Disney Orlando!

We can’t wait for more details to emerge, but of course we’re pretty excited about the possible addition of a Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, which we LOVE in Disneyland.

We'd love to see Trader Sam's in Disney World

Here a few other options that are apparently on the block for Disney World’s “Disney Springs:”

  • Planet Hollywood would become The Observatory.
  • Disney Character Dining (TBD)
  • Disney Burger (TBD)
  • Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar
  • Wine Bar (TBD)
  • The Edison
  • Disney Bakery (TBD)
  • Food Truck
  • Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
  • Italian Restaurant (TBD)
  • Argo Tea
  • [Read more…]

Top 6 Disneyland Bars and Lounges

Let’s face it. Sometimes a Disney vacation can be absolutely exhausting! That’s why we like to seek out bars and lounges in which we can share fun with family and friends or relax while enjoying good food and special beverages.

Schweitzer Falls at Trader Sam’s Tiki Bar

A while back, we took a look at our Top 10 Disney World Bars and Lounges, and now it’s time to take a peek at our favorites in the Disneyland Parks and Resorts!

Here are our picks for Top Six Disneyland bars and lounges — a list that includes a little help from our Facebook Friends! Thanks for your input!

Ready to jump in? Here’s our favorite place to while away some time at the Disneyland Resort…

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

Trader Sam’s should be your first choice for chilling out in Disneyland!

This is due to some great bartenders, unique drinks (often served in souvenir glasses), good food, and, of course, the interactive activities here. (Careful not to sit on the sinking bar stools!)

This place is an awesome tropical retreat located at the Disneyland Hotel. Check out our Trader Sam’s Review here!

Trader Sam’s Bar

While there is indoor and outdoor seating, all of the action is inside where there is limited seating (about 50 spots); so get here early as evenings may be quite crowded.

Cove Bar

Located in Disney California Adventure, the Cove Bar (not to be mistaken for Cove Cafe on the Disney Cruise Ships or the Cove Bar at Disney World’s Contemporary Resort…) is your place to escape the long lines and hot sun while enjoying great water-side views.

View from Cove Bar

Leave the thrills behind and savor specialty drinks and craft beers. The Raspberry Rain is a memorable choice! Look for an attractive menu offering my favorite, Buffalo Wings, and Lobster Nachos.

Hearthstone Lounge

Make the Hearthstone Lounge in the Grand Californian Resort a must-do in Disneyland.

Whether you are looking for some quiet alone time or bringing along friends, this cozy fireside lounge has a lodge theme and soaring ceilings that immediately relax you. And that’s before your first drink order!

Take a seat at the bar, on a cozy sofa, or at a [Read more…]

Review: Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar

“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?

Trader Sam's Welcome Message - click image for larger version

Atmosphere

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 [Read more…]

5 (New to Me) Disneyland Discoveries I Couldn’t Wait To Share

Well, I’m going to be honest with you. I’m looking through the thousands of pictures I took over my 6-day trip to Disneyland and I want to write about ALL of it RIGHT NOW!

The Hungry Bear Blueberry Pie is a Thing of Beauty

Since I obviously can’t do that, and I can’t bring all of you over to my living room to look through a slide show (we don’t have enough Doritos), I’ve decided to highlight five of my favorite discoveries here. I know that some of these are already near and dear to you lucky local Disneylanders, but they were new to me on this trip, and I loved ‘em.

Each of these will be showcased in detail in longer review posts coming up over the next few months, but I couldn’t wait to share some of my personal new favorites with you ASAP!

Red Velvet Roulade

Over at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen we found plenty of new favorites. From the beignets to the garlic cheese bread, almost everything we tried was a winner.

But I have to say we were very pleased that we switched our dessert order last minute to this Red Velvet Roulade. Moist, rich red velvet cake stuffed with incredibly creamy, tangy cream cheese frosting. The perfect ending to a great meal.

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen Red Velvet Roulade

Plaza Inn Fried Chicken

I know — you’re shocked that I’ve never tried this before! I am, too! What an incredible piece of poultry this is.

A huge portion of golden brown fried chicken is supplemented by [Read more…]

Disney Food Blog D23 Expo Meet-Up

As we pack for the D23 Expo, we want to extend an invite to Disney Food Blog readers for an informal get-together in Disneyland!

Since the food options at the Expo might not be the greatest, we’ve decided to hang out at Trader Sam’s in Disneyland Hotel from 2:30-3:30pm on Saturday August 20, 2011!

Entrance to Trader Sam's

While Food and Beverage is at your own expense, the options here and over at the new Tangaroa Terrace should be fun and interesting to sample. Plus we know the Trader Sam’s drinks are good! ;-)

For food, friends, and fun, join us at Trader Sam’s on Saturday, August 20th, at 2:30pm! We’re looking forward to meeting you! You can RSVP over on facebook here.