Kungaloosh, adventurers! The true hidden treasure at Walt Disney World is Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto. Belly up to the bar for tiki specials and plenty of Jungle Cruise Skipper punny jokes! This true tiki bar created by Disney Imagineers will have you feeling right at home in a hospitable seaside-inspired environment. Now let’s set sail for tropical destinations with the help of our Grog Grotto Guide!
Trader Sam had his first bar at the Disneyland Hotel, on the West Coast, but both of these locations were inspired by an original animatronic character from the Jungle Cruise attraction. The “head salesman” of the jungle, Trader Sam was always looking to procure a few heads for his shrunken collection, and Jungle Cruise Skippers were never short on puns to create his hilarious backstory. As modern times have progressed, Trader Sams’s physical form has been removed from the bi-coastal attraction, but his essence lives on at his Gift Shop.
Trader Sam was such a beloved character of the Jungle Cruise ride that Imagineers gave him his own tiki bar inspired by all the Adventureland goings-on. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Disney’s most popular tiki bar!
Where to find Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
First “installed” in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto made its debut in 2015. Opening softly to large crowds of Adventureland enthusiasts, the intimate bar which was modeled after its Disneyland, California counterpart, was a part of the major transformation of the Polynesian Village Resort. The transformation also included lobby upgrades as well as other refurbishments.
If you wander through the Polynesian’s Grand Ceremonial House Lobby to the back windows, take a left turn past the stairwell and into the winding corridor. Pass Captain Cook’s Quick Service Restaurant, and before you exit the building through the sliding door, take a look to your right. You will most likely have overlooked the slightly recessed Trader Sam’s Door. The only clue to the contents behind the door is the wooden and seafoam-colored sign handing out front.
The small bar only holds about 50 people (Skipper Bartenders included) and does not take reservations. Instead, patrons will line up outside the bar about 30 minutes before opening (the bar typically opens at 3 pm and will take names as early as 2:30 pm) while a hostess takes their names and phone numbers to allow entry when space allows. Those under 21 are allowed entry until 8 pm after that the bar is only open to those above the drinking age. The mood nor the jokes change, yet it is more of an adult atmosphere.
While seating is available, it is not guaranteed. The booths or conversation sets may put you with another party, or you may be asked to stand around the area. The surfboard-style table can seat 10, though parties are often mixed. If you’re looking for a real treat ask the bartender if “anyone in the bar is feeling…low.” Leftover seating gags from The Adventurer’s Club at Pleasure Island remain here, and they are worth waiting for.
If there’s not enough space indoors for your party to play, try going outside for Trader Sam’s Tiki Terrace. Offering the same drinks (but sans the signature mugs for safety) and bites, the spacious patio sometimes has live music and plenty of space to stretch out in the Florida sun.
Menu at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
Do you need a bite to eat while you sip your libations? While Sam’s isn’t a full restaurant, there are plenty of small plates to sate your appetite while you wet your whistle. Savor the Headhunter sushi roll, Hawaiian poke bowls, dumplings, or chicken lettuce cups.
The lounge-style menu only offers eight dishes (no desserts are served), but share a few small plates among friends while you taste the tiki cocktails and make a night of it. The average price of a small plate is about $12, with the cheapest appetizer at $9.50 and the priciest at $15.00 (the largest of the sushi rolls, which could easier make a dinner for one).
Unique dishes and drinks at Trader Sam’s
The real stars of the Grog Grotto menu are the cocktails and the souvenir mugs they come in. Each tiki drink has the option to purchase the Disney tiki mug in a pack-able take-home box. Lined with styrofoam, your mug will easily be packed into your suitcase and comfortably ride home to be displayed on your bar shelves.
Many of them are specific to the drinks served in them, like the Zombie Head or the HippopotoMai-Tai (seen below in a translucent green glass), which is a Trader Sam’s Classic.
Alcoholic Tiki Drinks at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto retail for as low as $12.00 (Dark & Tropical Stormy) to as much as the multi-person Nautilus for $32. The average price is $16 per cocktail, not including the souvenir mugs. Of course, typical beer and wine offerings pepper the drink menu. Look for the unique pineapple ciders or the Hawaiian Kona Beer import options.
Three virgin mocktails are available for those underage or those wishing for a virgin option. The classic Schweitzer Falls mocktail, which is also available at the Jungle Skipper Canteen in nearby Adventureland, is available here. Guests can also choose from the Polynesian Punch, and the Skipper Sipper, which has a touch of Falernum (a true tiki flavor).
Easter Eggs at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
Looking for hidden touches here at the Grog Grotto? You won’t see characters here like you would at Minnie’s Hollywood and Dine, but you will see Walt Disney World, and possibly Disneyland tributes. One of the most recognizable elements is the Nautilus cocktail for two, served in a long and short submarine carved to look just like the ride vehicle from 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction! For $32, sip a blend of two rums, Tropical Juices, and Falernum. Take the giant mug home for another $26.
Those that remember the early days of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom may remember this Polynesian Goddess from the center of the room. Uh-Oa, the Tiki Goddess, now sits atop the rafters in her blacklight-paint glory, waiting for her sacrifices in the form of citrus and sugar cubes. Imagineer Brandon installed her as a tribute to the theme park attraction’s history.
Sadly, you won’t see Trader Sam himself. Much like the upcoming Jungle Cruise Lost & Found turned Gift Shop, Sam is out procuring new spirits for cocktails. You won’t see him, but you may find treasures among the wall that hint at his ownership, or perhaps other S.E.A. Society members. Disney’s website describes the whimsical artifacts left in Sam’s abode,
Head in to this tranquil hideaway for an enchanting evening packed with fantastic fun and delightful surprises. Explore the whimsically themed lounge—overrun with ancient artifacts and exotic treasures—or set sail for the open-air Tiki Terrace for a relaxing sip or nibble under the starry sky, complete with the melodious sounds of live Hawaiian-themed musical entertainment.
Does the name Trader Sam sound familiar? If you’re a long-time Disney fan, it should. Trader Sam is the legendary “head” salesman who offers you a hard-to-pass-up deal—2 of his heads for 1 of yours—at the conclusion of Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom park. Don’t worry! You’ll get an equally great deal—without losing your head—at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto inside of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort is not the only location for these fan-favorite tiki drinks! You can also find a Trader Sam’s location, the original Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar, on the West Coast at the Disneyland Hotel.
What’s your favorite tiki drink at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto? Leave us a comment about your most adventurous visit!