This past May, we were finally able to check out Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. We have been longtime fans of Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar in Disneyland and couldn't wait to check out its east coast counterpart at Walt Disney World. While the bars share many similarities, they're not exactly alike which made our visit super fun.
Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Room at the Disneyland Hotel is located in a freestanding structure (shared with Tangaroa Terrace). The entrance is fairly grand with large signage, tropical decor, tiki torches, and an exterior patio. We were surprised to find that Trader Sam's Grog Grotto in Disney World has a very different entrance. It is located inside of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and features a much more inconspicuous door. It really is just a "hole-in-the-wall" located down the hallway that leads from Capt. Cook's towards the marina and luau show. If you didn't know what magical surprises awaited behind the door, you might think that the bar was nothing spectacular.
We were surprised to see how sprawling Trader Sam's Grog Grotto was once we entered inside. Its counterpart in Disneyland is much more quaint and intimate so this was a much different experience. The bars are fairly similar in terms of decor and styling. The Grog Grotto is also chock-full of cool details, Disney ride references, artwork and mugs from some of this country's great tiki artists, and lots of fun theming. Like its west coast counterpart, it comes to life when special drinks are ordered and it features similar stylistic elements like the animated "windows."
Food & Drink
The menu at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto shares some drinks with the menu at its sister bar in Disneyland but it also has some unique cocktails of its own. We were most excited to try those and to also collect the tiki mugs that were much different from the ones we had already collected on the west coast. Here's a rundown of everything we tried:
The Nautilus comes in a HUGE submarine-shaped mug (with a nod to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and is best enjoyed as a punch for two (much like the Uh Oa!). It is somewhat similar in flavor profile to the Uh Oa! with a nice balance of fruitiness mixed with rum and a just a subtle hint of spice. The ingredients include: Barbancourt Pango Rhum, Appleton Estate Reserve Rum, Combier Creme d Peche de Vigne Liqueur, Tropical Juices, and Falernum.
The Polynesian Pearl is served in a plastic pearl that ceremoniously comes out of a giant clamshell at the bar. Every once in a while a special guest is lucky enough to receive a rare black pearl but we ended up with the standard white version. This drink is a creamy with some spice to it and contains: RumChata Creme Liqueur, Grand Marnier, and Cinnamon with Tropical Juices. While this drink was definitely good it wasn't one of our favorite Trader Sam's offerings that we've tried.
We've had this drink before but we wanted to get this version of the glass mug it comes in so we ordered it anyway. It's a Mai Tai with the following ingredients: Coruba Dark Rum, Bacardi Superior Rum, Bols Orange Curacao, Orgeat (Almond), Organic Agave Nectar, and fresh Lime Juice.
We ordered the Rum Flight mostly because we really wanted the mini-mugs the rums come in. We learned after the fact that, when you purchase the mugs, they do not come with the wooden holder and you can purchase them without ordering the drinks. In hindsight, we might have opted for a mixed tiki drink instead of this tasting. Still, it's nice to see that guests have the opportunity to do some rum tasting if they're so inclined.
Headhunter Sushi Roll
We weren't super hungry on our visit so we only ordered one item off the menu. Many of the options looked very similar to the small bites we've had at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto in Disneyland (Kalua Pork Tacos, Hawaiian Poke, etc.). Other items were quite different (Corn-battered Portugese Sausages, Roasted Chicken and Pork Bahn Mi Sliders, etc.). We ordered the Headhunter Sushi Roll since it sounded tasty and looked pretty unique. It was good but not as flavorful as we were expecting. We're definitely looking forward to trying some of the other items off the menu the next time we have the opportunity to visit.
The best part about both of the Trader Sam's bars is that they're filled with surprises. The bar comes to life and is an attraction in itself. We were constantly amused on our visit and found that Trader Sam's Grog Grotto offers more "interactive" drinks than its west coast counterpart.
Both bars have slowly sinking barstools that surprise guest out of nowhere. I've only seen one stool at Disneyland's Trader Sam's sink but it seems that every stool at the Grog Grotto is equipped with that capability. I noticed that something was off as soon as I started going down but Greg didn't believe me until I was almost on the ground. It happened to some other guests at the same time so I was happy to see that I wasn't alone!
The drinks that trigger special things to happen in the bar include the Nautilus (everyone yells "dive! dive!" while a cast member adorns a pool float & some goggles and blows bubbles around the bar) and the Polynesian Pearl (where a cast member coaxes a pearl of Shelly for a grand reveal). Other "magical" drinks include the Uh Oa!, the Krakatoa, the HippopotoMai-Tai (with cast member reactions similar to those on the Jungle Cruise), and the Shrunken Zombie Head (which illuminates the shrunken heads at the bar, pictured below). We can't remember which drink triggers it but the giant octopus arm (with liquor bottle) moves at certain times as well (also pictured below).
We had a blast at Trader Sam's Grog Grotto in Walt Disney World and we can't wait to visit again. It's a magical experience and can be enjoyed by the whole family (there are many non-alcoholic options on the menu as well). While we'll continue to enjoy Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar in nearby Disneyland, there are still so many other items for us to try on the Grog Grotto menu that are sure lure us out east soon!
Have any of you visited Trader Sam's Grog Grotto? Let us know what you thought of the experience in the comments section below! In particular, we'd love to hear any food or drink recommendations you have for our future visits!