Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto had a “soft opening” yesterday at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. I was very suprised that Disney announced it, and I knew that meant that the East Coast version of the popular Disneyland tiki bar would be extremely busy. Once announced, we planned to go in the afternoon – but at the last minute, we figured morning would be better and more organized. It was both.
This article is photo heavy, with about 150 pictures and a few embedded videos on 2 pages. We also have an article about Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar from 2011 if you want to see the California equivilent!
Parking at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for Trader Sam’s will be iffy, depending on the day. If there is a hard close at the resort (restaurant reservations & hotel guests only), then the most convenient parking may be at the Ticket and Transportation Center. That costs money for those who aren’t Annual Passholders, Cast Members or Walt Disney World resort guests. It would be nice to have a little more parking for guests wanting to enjoy Trader Sam’s.
This was the line for Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. I expected more guests early, but it was pretty quiet until about 2 p.m. (and still orderly when we went in). We arrived early, bought lunch and talked with some friends. There was a mix of Cast Members, locals and some guests from out of town. I expect this to be more of a locals bar, along with tiki bar and Disney fans who are on vacation. Last night, the energy inside the bar was very high – almost everyone who was there understood what was going on, and it really added to the experience. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto was created by Disney and tiki fans, and those who are both will appreciate it most. Most everyone who has read our updates on Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will know that Jeff and I have each been coming here to the resort since the 1970s (Jeff since 1971), and we like many of the recent changes and upgrades to the resort.
Dole Whips were brought out for those waiting. I was told later that it was a gift from a Cast Member (I’m not sure I should say who), but Jeff and I enjoyed splitting one.
While we where there, the hours of operation were posted.
We already knew the hours, which currently are 4:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. I would rather see an hour or two tacked onto either side. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is 21+ after 8:00 p.m. When innuendo was bantered about a little, the bartenders would say “After 8!”.
Bou-Tiki was selling this vibrant Trader Sam’s Hawaiian shirt for $54.95. Jeff picked one up, it is very nice. Many guests purchased one and wore it immediately.
This shirt is is $24.95.
The Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto pin costs $9.95.
At around noon, the line still wasn’t very long.
We had a nice view of the upcoming Lava Pool, which will open sometime in the next couple of weeks.
The patio was still being worked on when we arrived, and up until the time of opening. The landscaping was mostly done, with all tikis in place.
The patio could also be seen from the outside of Captain Cook’s.
Upstairs at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, the sign reflects all the dining choices.
Jeff and I took turns walking around the resort, but the nearly 5 hour wait was over before we knew it. Around 3:00 p.m., Cast Members took names and stamped hands of the first 48 guests.
This Cast Member had a belt, she said it was the only one (I’m not sure if that is the case or not).
Jeff shows his pirate stamp.
After the first 48 guests, pagers were handed to the rest of the line.
Everyone stood in line in the order they arrived. It was extremely organized, I give a lot of credit to the managers and Cast Members.
General Manager Norm Noble welcomed guests as we entered.
As much as I wasn’t planning to be early, it was really nice to feel the excitement of the first moments as Trader Sam’s opened.
We’ve shown this previously, the 20,000 Leagues artwork down the hallway that is themed to the bar.
This is the hallway Trader Sam’s is in, taking the place of the former Moana Mickey’s Arcade.
My first view of Trader Sam’s included a snorkel. I didn’t understand it at the time, but soon would.
Guests can purchase merchandise as they leave, or pick up their purchased mugs.
We didn’t ask for the difference in all the drink prices vs. buying with mugs, because at Disneyland it is almost always worth it to buy the mug. Our Krakatoa Punch with this heavy mug was $18.25. We did buy two Mai Tais; one with a souvenir mug and one without. The difference was only $4.50 ($10.50 vs. $15.00). It will usually be worth buying the mug, unless you really don’t want it. Also, some of these mugs are from Disneyland – new ones should be in soon. We haven’t been to Disneyland in over a year, so it was nice getting some of the mugs for our collection without having to carry them from California this year.
The Polynesian Pearl does come with the plastic souvenir cup. It isn’t as nice as the other mugs.
We didn’t purchase the Uh-Oa.
The nautilus wasn’t yet ready for purchase. This will be $52.00 with the equivilent of 2 drinks inside. Guests can purchase the drink now for $29.00, but can’t get the souvenir. There has been a lot of discussion about the price, but I think many fans would buy it at $52 without a drink if it was sold someplace like the Art of Disney.
We have a short video showing all of the items in the case.
Order the Krakatoa drink, and this is what you’ll see.
We’d originally planned to sit in the back of the room where I’m photographing from, but friends were at the bar and we joined them. It was a great place to watch everything happen.
Before we go into more photos, here is a video Jeff put together of the entire experience.
Trader Sam’s is very dark, and it can be hard to get clear photos without flash (but I tried to most of the time). Every so often, an effect will give just enough light to take a decent photo.
Two servers were at our end of the bar. This is Chris, and he was terrific. He is showing the bottom of the Nautilis, which has the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto enscription.
It says “1st Edition, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto”.
We each ordered 3 drinks while there, and 4 food items total. Jeff ordered a Krakatoa Punch and I ordered the Polynesian Pearl. The Krakatoa Punch is a favorite at Disneyland, and all of the drink pages are shown below. You will notice that only the food items have prices.
Note from Skip.
Krakatoa Punch and Castaway Crush.
HippopotoMai-Tai and Rosita’s Margarita.
Shrunken Zombie Head.
Chris wouldn’t make my Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum until I said the right number of tikis. It took 3 or 4 times since my menu wasn’t open.
There are a handful of beers, including Kona Longboard.
Wine is available.
There are several non-alcoholic specialty drinks (or “Sam’s No-Booze Brews”).
The pearls come from this oyster – most are white pearls, but very occasionally there is a black one.
We have been told that the tiki poles behind the registers (and elsewhere in the restaurant) came from the Tangaroa Terrace. I haven’t been in there but once or twice since the 80’s, and don’t remember them specifically.
This was our other server, Kat. She also was exceptional. I have a feeling all the bartenders are here.
We ordered food dishes one at a time, and also took photos of the items our friends ordered.
We first tried the Chicken Lettuce Cups with Hoisin Ginger Sauce. For $10.99, it comes with lettuce and cut-up pieces of chicken. There is also a little bit of garnish to add. It was tasty, but all the portions were pretty small (of what we had).
Next up was the Pan Fried Dumplings with Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce for $8.49.
The Kalua Pork Tacos are $9.99. They are very small tacos, but I liked the wrap they were in.
These are Roasted Chicken & Pork Pate’ Banh Mi Sliders for $9.99. We asked for no pork pate, so they were just chicken sliders. The bread is very good, like a toasted baguette. The chicken is not exceptional, but tasty. All of the items are decent finger food for the drinks. I just wouldn’t count on making it a meal (and Jeff and I often split entrees).
Our friends ordered the Corn-Battered Portugese Sausages for $8.99.
They also ordered the Headhunter Sushi Roll, and found it too sweet (they would order it without the sauce next time).
This was my Mai Tai, and the glass we took home. It is very sturdy, and says “Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto”. Guests do not take the mug they drink from home. Instead, a wrapped one is picked up on the way out.
One of my favorites at Disneyland is the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum, and it didn’t disappoint here. There is a lot of ice on the top, but plenty of drink inside too. The Polynesian Pearl is $16.25.
We only saw one black pearl during our visit, and it was a big deal!
Chris makes an Uh-Oa for a guest. I have had one in California, and the Uh-Oa has great effects here at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
A flame shoots out of the Uh-Oa.
There is always something going on behind the bar.
A friend bought the Mosquito Mojito, which called for a fly swatter.
Two pearls, side by side (not ours).
Two Kratoa Punch drinks are poured.
Our Krakatoa Punch with a heavy souvenir mug was $18.25.
Jeff purchased the Shrunken Zombie Head for $19.50 with mug.
Beers on tap include Kona Fire Rock and Longboard.
This is the Nautilus that one friend ordered. It didn’t look like it, but there was a lot of drink inside. We heard more than once that it was too much for one person.
Here is a video of the Nautilus effects!
Keep reading on page 2 for more Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto!