Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, a Hidden Gem at Walt Disney World
When you think Disney World - what’s the first thing that comes to mind for you? Mickey Mouse? Splash Mountain? Cinderella’s Castle? For most people, their memory will be focused on a character experience or cherished ride. For me, it’s the food! I am always drawn to the food and drink selections across Walt Disney World. One of the most intriguing and unique locations is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto; it’s located at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, just two monorail stops away from the Magic Kingdom. Trader Sam’s is an unusual location, hidden away in a corner of the Polynesian, and focused more towards the adult population of Disney World guests. It’s a sequel to the famous Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, which opened in the Disneyland Hotel in May 2011. West Coasters have ranked the original as an incredible Tiki themed bar. Since its inception, that Trader Sam’s has been an outright smash hit, so it was inevitable that the East Coast got their own version in 2015, during the massive refurbishment of the Polynesian Village Resort. While the average guest may not even realize this Trader Sam’s location exists, if you’re a fan of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the South Pacific, or Tiki culture, this is a can’t miss location for you. An unusual aspect of the Grog Grotto is the exclusivity of the location - unlike most places at Walt Disney World, it’s small and hidden away, there’s no sign outside announcing its presence. There is a Cast Member at the entrance monitoring the amount of people allowed in and a wait list can quickly appear after opening, as the inside lounge holds 50 guests and the Tiki Terrace is limited to 82. There can be a lengthy wait on busy days, but you can leave your name with the Cast Member if you’re yearning to discover just what’s behind the door. Either get there at opening, or come in around 11pm for the best chances to get inside. Is it a beautiful day, or the line is too long? Walk outside to the Tiki Terrace - you can sit down outdoors, and order all the same drinks. If visiting the terrace, I recommend sending a member of your party around the corner to Pineapple Lanai, so you can have a tasty beverage AND a Dole Whip at the same time. What’s so special about Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto? Everything! You are transported to a far off South Pacific destination, with volcanoes erupting in the windows, typhoons literally blowing and spraying throughout (in a Disney manner of speaking), and Cast Members that fully delve into the theming of every drink. Pull up a seat at the bar and watch the mysterious Oyster that produces the pearl shaped mugs for the Polynesian Pearl (make sure to wish for a unique and mystical Black Pearl when you order). Look around and spot all the Adventureland influences in the elaborate theming, and enjoy the antics of the Cast Members, as they clearly enjoy being able to let loose in this location. Walk outdoors onto the Tiki Terrace and take in the ambiance of private waterfalls and the overlook onto the Lava pool complex and Seven Seas Lagoon. And most importantly, feel free to join in with the group chants when drinks are being served - if the Hippopatamaitai is ordered, when the lights flash red, be sure to yell out “TWO SHOTS OF RUM!” The whole menu is full of elaborate speciality drinks, and all the incredible concoctions have mugs available for purchase as a great souvenir for that Tiki-bar fan in your life. You must buy a drink to get the mug, so prepare your wallet because you can easily spend some cash here. There are several drinks intended for sharing, and depending on your drink order, you may get an amusing reaction from your Cast Member (I’m looking at you, Shrunken Zombie Head). For those who are looking for less indulgent drinks, there are multiple No-Booze Brews, and a full bar with excellent appetizers to share. The atmosphere is inviting, and it’s a perfect location for a group, a duo, or an individual lucky enough to wiggle in. While Walt Disney World is a family friendly location, this is one spot where it’s great to be an adult. I absolutely recommend you stop on by for a drink or an evening, and enjoy the festivities during your next stay. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is located on the first floor of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, just down the hall past Capt. Cook’s, and has a Tiki Terrace that overlooks the main pool complex. Hours are 4pm -12am daily. Dining Plans and the Tables in Wonderland card are not accepted. Children allowed with adult accompaniment only, until 8pm, and are not allowed to sit at the bar. You can visit here via the Polynesian Village Resort Monorail stop, on the Resort Monorail line; on a boat from the Magic Kingdom’s dock; walking from the Transportation and Ticketing Center; a Disney Bus drop off; self-parking at the Polynesian Village Resort (parking for non-resort guests may be limited at various times of the year).
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