Trader Sam's Grog Grotto (Orlando, Florida)

As mentioned in my previous post, I had the pleasure to visit my friends in Florida a few months back. When I arrived in Orlando, my friend M. and I had planned to watch the Disney fireworks from the Polynesian Village Resort. Afterwards, we wanted to try out a tiki bar that was located at the Polynesian Resort and that I had read about - Trader Sam's Grog Grotto.

I read about this "whimsical" bar on some of the Disney blogs and it looked and sounded like fun.  I like tropical themed tiki bars, the cocktails and atmosphere. This place was also supposed to have some "interactive" cocktails that made it special. I was actually worried as it said there often are long waiting times, but we were lucky and got a spot right away.

The Backstory:

This tropical little bar is tucked away in one of the hallways next to the lobby of the Polynesian Resort. For me, it seems that the place is half hidden, you really need to look for the door. And when you open the door, you kinda step into a complete different world...

Trader Sam's tiki bar originated 2011 in Disneyland (California) under the name of "Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar". It was inspired by the Jungle Cruise. Trader Sam was the head salesman in the Amazon, known to always be ready to trade two of his heads for one of yours... He was also an expert in head-shrinking potions and mixology...  They opened up the counterpart of the tiki bar in Disney Word in 2015 - Trader Sam's Grog Grotto. The bar is kinda small and cozy. It has lots of tropical themed decorations and overflows with ancient artefacts and tropical treasures. There are tiki statues, shrunken heads, and even nautical equipement as a reference to 2,000 Leagues Under The Sea. It is a little overwhelming but the atmosphare is great. And the bartenders are making it even more special. There are some drinks that come in souvenir cups, but the price can be a little steep. Also, there are certain cocktails that conjure mystical events.... 

Special Cocktails to be aware of!

  • Uh-Oa! - This is a very special drink and is supposed to be shared. It will arrive "on fire", and there are little cups on the side of the mug with cinnamon. You can use the cinnamon and throw it in the flames of the drink to create sparks... Also, when someone orders the drink, the lights get darker and the Tiki Goodness of Disaster awakens...
  • Krakatoa Punch - There is a huge picture of a volcano on the wall, behind bamboo bars. It looks like you are looking out of a window and see a volcano. When someone orders the Krakatoa Punch, the picture comes to life, it gets darker, a storm starts and the volcano erupts. But don't get distracted by the wall picture! The bartender use that moment to take out their water pistols. So, don't wonder if you FEEL the storm coming :)
  • Nautilus - There is a swim ring on the wall behing the bar, in form of a duck. When someone orders the Nautilus, the bartender puts on the swim ring and a little Nemo hat and "swims" through the bar.
  • Polynesian Pearl - Here, the lights get darker, special music starts and a huge shell in the back of the bar starts to open up... The bartender grabs in and pulls out a Pearl Cup for the drink :)
  • Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum - This one is simple, but fun. The bartender starts singing "Tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki, tiki rum" while bringing the cocktail.

I have to admit, when we visited the bar it kinda was already a long day, we had already tried out the Hangar Bar at Disney Springs and we were a little tired. For that reason, we also "only" tried Sam's No-Booze Brews. Those were delicious as well. And while sipping our innocent cocktails, we were able to enjoy the atmosphere. Many other people ordered one of the special cocktails and we experienced the errupting volcano, the bartenders swimming through the bar, spraying everyone with little water pistols, singing "Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum" and more. I cannot clearly say what my highlight was... The erupting volcano was fun, but the bartenders being ridiculous was even better :)

The Shrunken Zombie Head

However, there was one little event that night, that was great: A couple came in and wanted to by the souvenir cup of the Shrunken Zombie Head, a very strong rum cocktail that has three different kind of rums in it. They actually only wanted the cup, not the drink, but the bartenders were not supposed to sell the cup without the drink. So, the couple asked us whether we would take the drink (for free) if they bought themselves the cup. We just couldn't say no to that :)

The Hangar Bar vs. The Grog Grotto

In my last post, I mentioned that earlier that day we had gone to Disney Springs and as a storm started we sought shelter in "Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar" - a slightly whimsical bar with a nice Indiana Jones' themed backstory and lots of little gadgets in the bar. The Hangar Bar is actually often compared to the Tiki Bar due to the same "whimsical" overflowing and detailed decoration.

It was fun to try out both of those two bars. I can see why they are often compared, however, there are also enough differences that you would not get bored if you try out both, like we did :) The food shall be better at the Hangar Bar. We did not eat at the Tiki Bar, so I cannot say anything about their food, but the snacks at the Hangar Bar were delicious! I would recommend to try out the Hangar bar rather in the afternoon and the Tiki Bar definitely later in the evening. Best to bring lots of energy to soak it all in :)

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